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v0.31:Melt item

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This article is about an older version of DF.

You can melt items at a smelter, using the furnace operator labor, to recover some of the metal they were made of. Decorations in a different metal are not recovered or considered; the metal recovered is the specific metal that basic item was listed as being made from. The % return is predictable and consistent for each item type, and ranges from 10%-100%, depending on the item. Higher skill levels in furnace operator speed up the process, but have no effect on the % return.

Recovered metal is measured in 1/10th's, and 1/10ths of bars of each metal are saved at the smelter where the item was melted. Fractional bars are not "shared" between smelters, nor do they exist as usable objects as is. When 10/10ths of a type of metal are accumulated at the same smelter, 1 bar of that metal is produced. If the smelter is torn down or destroyed, all fractions are lost.

Example: If two items of the same metal worth .4 bars each are melted at the same smelter, that smelter has .8 bars worth waiting in it.
If a similar item of a different metal is then melted there, that smelter would have .8 bars of the first metal and .4 bars of the second.
If a similar item of the first metal is then melted at a different smelter, that smelter will have .4 of that metal, and have no connection to the fractions in the first smelter.
If (finally!), a 3rd, similar item of the first metal is melted at the first smelter, adding another 4/10ths, and giving a total of 12/10ths of that type of metal, 1 bar of that metal is produced, and 2/10th's are waiting (plus the 4/10 of the second metal, also waiting).

So, it's recommended that you designate one smelter as your "melting" smelter (or one/metal type), to guarantee that fractions will add up effectively.

Designating items to melt[edit]

You can designate metal items for melting from any interface that allows you to view the object's description screen, such as from the Stocks page or the Look interface.

To bring up a individual object description screen when the object is:

  • On the ground: Type k, scroll to the object, select it from the list, and type Enter.
  • In a workshop: Type t, highlight the workshop, select the object from the list, and type Enter.
  • Held by a dwarf: Type v, highlight the dwarf, type i to show his inventory, select the object from the list, and type Enter.
  • Inside another object: Display the container's object description screen, navigate to the specific object you wish to see, and type Enter.
  • In the stocks menu: Type z, hit right-direction a few times to select "stocks" and press return. Scroll to the type of object you wish to melt, type Tab to show individual items (You have to have an exact number or this won't work. See Bookkeeper for how to get this), scroll to the specific object, and type v to view.

To designate the item, simply type m to mark the object for melting. If the item is designated for melting and forbidden then the item will not be melted.

However, this only marks which items you want to be melted - you still have to place the job-order in a smelter...

Melting the items[edit]

Items designated to be melted will be left alone until you queue a "Melt a metal object" job o at a Smelter. Melting down an object requires the Furnace operator labor (and consumes a unit of fuel for a non-magma smelter).

The job gives the same experience to the furnace operator skill regardless of % yield of the item melted.


The type of item being melted (and its stack size) determines how many bars of metal will be recovered. Melting objects generally nets you fewer bars of metal than were required to make them, although for some objects this loss is much greater than for others. Some metal items are otherwise refuse, so melting is a distinct option. An entire suit of chain armor, including shield, consumes 7 bars to make - melted it yields only 3.3.

Melting yields do not respect MATERIAL_SIZE for armor items - regardless of how many bars are used to make the item, the yield will be the same.

Items yielding 1 full bar:

Items yielding 0.8 bars:

Items yielding 0.5 bars:

Items yielding 0.3 bars:

Items yielding 0.2 bars:

Items yielding 0.1 bars:


  • Ammo yields 0.1 bars per 10 units, rounded down, plus 0.1. A stack of 1-9 bolts will yield 0.1 bars, 10-19 will yield 0.2 bars, etc. - a freshly smithed stack of 25 bolts will yield 0.3 bars, for a 30% return.
  • Coins yield 0.1 bars per 50 units, rounded down, plus 0.1. A stack of 1-49 coins will yield 0.1 bars, 50-99 will yield 0.2 bars, etc. - a freshly minted stack of 500 coins will yield 1.1 bars, for a 110% return.

Training metalsmith skills / Maximizing return[edit]

It can consume many, many bars of metal to train the various metalsmithing skills up to high levels*. If you are short on metal, producing items, melting them and re-producing them may be necessary. If you want to retain as much metal as possible from this process, some items are better to produce and re-melt than others. The skill to be trained in the chart below is trained at a forge; melting items at a smelter only raises the furnace operator skill. When using a produce/melt loop to train up a skill for a minimum metal loss, the following items work best:

(* 600 bars to train from Dabbling to Legendary, and 367 more to reach Legendary+5, the highest skill level)
to be
weaponsmith 50% weapons or trap components
armorsmith 60% gauntlets, high boots, or low boots
metalsmith 100% bucket
metal crafter 110% coins