I met a fellow named Al who used to work for the titanium-making operation ATI (Allegheny Technologies Incorporated) in the 1970s and '80s as a smelter of titanium ingots. His father apparently held several patents concerning the Kroll process of smelting titanium, so I guess it runs in the family. It was an interesting conversation, as he described the process of taking titanium sponge and turning it into purified slabs of titanium, using a stainless steel vacuum furnace to melt the titanium, then adding an equal amount of 2000 degree centigrade molten magnesium, followed by some sort of chloride, and then flooding the chamber with an intense flow of super-heated helium to strip away the dangerous magnesium-hexachloride-something-something, all while hoping the crucible chamber didn't explode. It was past my understanding, but suffice to say, it isn't that titanium as an element is rare, but that it's extremely difficult and technical to isolate, purify, and alloy it into a usable hunk of metal. After the smelting process, he and his cohorts would open the chamber and start chipping out the hunk of titanium alloy from within the slag, much like retrieving the hunk of steel from beneath the ashes of the traditional Japanese tatara iron-smelting furnace. Most of the titanium sponge they were smelting was from Russia, and some was from Japan. He joked about how the U.S. was in a cold war with the Soviets, yet openly bought titanium sponge from them with which to build jet engine parts and machines of war. He said at the time the titanium from both Russia and Japan was of extremely high quality, which is still true to this day. Al presented me with two scrap bin pieces of titanium left over from his days of working with ATI. One is a little prybar he and his fellow workers fashioned from a bar of ti, and the other is a big bar of titanium, alloy unknown. The big bar had been driven into the dirt as an electrical ground for an electric fence, and there it stayed for more than a decade, buried in the soil and conducting electrons. What you see in the photo is how it looks now. It's a big bar, so I will have it tested to find out what alloy it is, or if it's simply pure titanium. If it's an appropriate alloy, it will be made into a big sword.