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Hardening and Softening High Carbon Steel
Article © MAIL User: thexnihil

How to soften: Heat steel to a nice red glow (if you have a magnet handy, heat till it's no longer magnetic); if you let the metal air cool after this you are normalizing it, which will make it considerably softer. To make the metal as soft as possible, cool it as slowly as possible (by sticking it in ashes perhaps).

How to harden: Heat metal to red again and then quench in either water or oil (some carbon steels will crack if you water quench them). After you have done this be VERY nice to the metal, because it will be extremely brittle.

Tempering: to make the metal less brittle, it goes through a tempering process. The ideal temper for chainmaille is a nice spring temper. The easiest way to do this is to use an oven. Set it at 500 degrees and leave the metal in for a good bit of time. If the metal was polished before reheating, you should see a nice blue oxidation. If you temper the metal lower than 500 degrees, it will be harder, but you run the risk of it being too brittle.
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