8

In the third mistborn book the main characters get their hands on some Aluminium from a set of cutlery from a noble's house.
It is stated that is is incredibly rare and valuable, much more so than gold. I don't recall how it compared the Atium (did they make a comparison?)
This makes sense - Aluminium is really hard to refine.
To my surprise, Native Aluminium can be found naturally occuring, so that explains where it comes from. (Is that the explaination given in the book?)

Indeed I suspect Native Aluminum nuggets would be of a reasonable size for burning.
But how is it shaped into cutlery?
You can't heat it, or it will ignite. (That the reason we use MIG welding today),
So how was it shaped?
(I honestly can't remember if the book went in to this. Did they have to find large pieces and cold forge it? It seems like Aliminum would be too brittle for that.)

So my three questions:
In the original Mistborn trilogy, (Misborn - the Final Empire)

  • How was the raw Aluminum produced? (native nuggets?)
  • How was Aluminium shaped into objects
  • How does the value of Aluminum compare to Atium?
5

There was no in-universe explanation for how aluminum was worked or how it was found in the wild that I recall. It's possible it is a metal that occurs naturally at a higher frequency in that world than in our own (even while being rare). The wikipedia article for Allomancy notes that it is a "pure metal", which I take to mean occurs naturally since metals there are noted as either being pure, or alloy.

I also do not recall a comparison to Atium. It's in universe worth is surely less than Atium. For one, you don't see anyone sporting atium cookware/figurines/etc. Atium is simply too powerful and too jealously horded to be used like that. Breaking out the Atium-ware for a big dinner party wouldn't look like showing off. It would look stupid and reckless. While Aluminum had an allomatic (I wonder if I'm saying that right) purpose (or tactical use, anyway), it as limited. Atium's importance, generally, is far greater. I would estimate the value of atium to be much, much higher than the value of aluminum as a result

  • I wouldn't have thoughtitwouldbe as valuable as Atrium, more that it would have a valueexpressable as a fraction of the value of Atrium. (Eg itcould beworth 1/10th the ammount.) Perhaps we can caluclate the value of aluiminuim,compaired to gold (Which it is more valuable than, in Final Empire time), and then use the value ofgold compaired to attrium – Lyndon White Feb 23 '12 at 2:46
  • If we had those figures, yes we could do that. I don't recall much in the way of those sorts of numbers from the series though. Bear in mind I haven't read it in years. – peacedog Feb 23 '12 at 18:28
6

I haven't read the books, so in-universe this is all speculation. However, it is certainly possible to melt and cast aluminum with primitive technology: http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/

Also, the first historic production of aluminum was done by chemical means (without electricity), although of course this was very expensive and inefficient.

I'm not sure why you think aluminum would ignite. Perhaps you are thinking of magnesium?

  • From my distant memories of Chem, Al is pretty damn reactive, once you remove the oxidised surface. – Lyndon White Feb 12 '12 at 3:58
  • 1
    It's so reactive that it forms a newly oxidized surface within moments of the previous one being removed :) – Tacroy Feb 16 '12 at 16:29
  • I've done backyard casting myself with aluminum. It's easy to heat and cast, and I've never had it ignite. I think you are confusing it with magnesium. – Saiboogu Feb 16 '12 at 16:34
  • 1
    He's not confusing it with magnesium. If you oxidise enough aluminium it will ignite, though I don't think melting it is enough. – AncientSwordRage Apr 29 '12 at 12:06
  • @AncientSwordRage - If melting it isn't enough to make it ignite, then why is that not the answer to how it might have been worked? I would guess that being able to melt and cast it would make cutlery possible. – Megha Jan 16 '16 at 7:40
3

Aluminum was found naturally in volcanoes according to the newest Mistborn book, Bands of Mourning.

"(...) the metal is now common. Bauxite refining, modern chemical processes, these have given us access to metals on a level that was never before possible. Why, the Last Obligator’s autobiography explains that early aluminum was harvested from the inside of the Ashmounts!”

0

Atium was invaluable. There's no amount of aluminium that a noble would have traded for a single bead of atium.

  • 3
    Now your going to far, Valuable yes, but not so much that there could be nothing worth more. I'm sure some nobility would be willing to trade a bead of atrium for say a full set of alimunium chainmail, boots, helm, shield and sword - just to show of there wealth. And beads of atrium was use as currency for transations of high value – Lyndon White Apr 29 '12 at 12:15
  • @Oxinabox 's comment makes sense to me. Also, as a purely practical matter, there would likely be situations that someone would trade that bead for things 'worth' much less - like clean water, or food. Value is not absolute, after all. Which has no bearing on a question of relative value, of course, it's just poking at absolutes is amusing. – Megha Jan 16 '16 at 7:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.