The Fan, on 07 July 2011 - 08:27 AM, said:
Are we debating if it is possible, or is it easy, I think the defense has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is possible, even if it isn't easy...
Of course melting gold is POSSIBLE. It just doesn't fit the circumstances described in the book. You don't use an ordinary cooking fire to melt gold, and you don't use a bonfire or a kiln to boil stew. If you took special measures to increase the heat of the cooking fire (none of which are mentioned in the book - he just pours out the stew, puts the pot back on the fire and waits), and you DID get the iron pot hot enough to melt the gold within it, the iron pot would be GLOWING BRIGHTLY.
Ordinarily, when you cook, the sides and handles of a pot don't get very hot. This is because the boiling liquid within the pot is carrying away excess heat in the form of steam. This effectively means that the sides of the pot above the water line, and the pot handle, is never going to get much hotter than 212 degrees Farenheit, which is the boiling point of water.
As many a forgetful cook has discovered, all this changes once the water boils away. Iron is a great conductor of heat. The entire pot gets hot real fast. If you try to grab the handle, it will burn you. We are not even talking yet about a glowing-hot pot. Just an ordinary overheated pot.
If we further consider that reasonably large "campfire" is needed to produce the temperatures necessary to melt gold, we can expect that an ordinary stew pot, small enough to conveniently dump over a person's head, will heat fairly evenly if placed over such a fire. If the bottom is glowing white-hot or at least bright-yellow hot (as it would be) then the sides and handles would also be superheated and glowing, to a perhaps lesser but still considerable degree. You cannot just pull such an item from the fire with your horsehair mittens. Your mittens will burst into flame on contact.
Edited by Fearsome Fred, 07 July 2011 - 10:57 AM.