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Hardened steel is an essential step to your progression through Conan Exiles. It’s a critical part of upgrading your weapons, armour, and workstations, and acquiring large quantities of it for all your crafting needs is a necessary struggle that many players will run into. Today, I’ll show you exactly how to craft massive quantities of Hardened Steel to suit all your survival needs!
What is Hardened Steel?
Hardened steel is a strengthened ingot of steel reinforced with extra materials to make it stronger and more versatile than regular steel. It’s a high-grade ingredient used for crafting various pieces of high-level armour, high-yield tools, and high-damage weapons. It can be stacked up to 200 units and has a base weight of 0.13 per bar, making it reasonable to carry in small quantities, though it can very quickly weigh you down.
What does it do?
Hardened steel is used as a stepping stone between Steel and Star Metal. The latter is relatively hard to attain, depending on your base and the tools you have on hand. It’s used to craft various items, the most notable of which are epic quality base game & DLC armours, Acheronian weapons, and tools. Along with Hardened Steel weapons and tools, which are a valuable stepping stone in increasing your damage output in combat and increasing your yield of resources when you’re out farming wood, stone, bark, or anything else you need.
It is also used to craft various adjustment and repair kits on the Tinkerer’s Bench and preservation boxes to keep your food and other perishable resources fresh. Finally, it is also used to make the end-game crafting stations, which can provide a massive speed boost or reduce resource costs, depending on which bench you choose to craft.
Where do I get it?
Hardened Steel bars require two primary resources to craft. The first is a supply of regular old Steel bars. If you don’t already know how to craft steel, we’ll go over the best way to do that shortly. The other resource you’ll need is Black Ice, a fairly scarce item usually found in hard-to-reach locations. These resources are used in a 1:1 ratio for crafting within a furnace, meaning that for each Hardened Steel bar you want to craft, you’ll require 1 Steel bar and 1 piece of Black Ice. Throughout the rest of this section, I’ll show you the best ways to acquire both of these resources, and then finally, we’ll look at the best crafting bench.
Black Ice nodes can be quite easily differentiated from regular Ice deposits. They take a similar shape but with a much darker color throughout the ice, making it very clear that it is indeed a Black Ice deposit. Black Ice is best harvested with a Pick, as you’ll get slightly more of the resource than you would with a Pickaxe or Hatchet. However, this is a minimal gain. The difference between a Steel Pick and Steel Hatchet is 13 per swing and 12 per swing, respectively.
Therefore, if you only have a Steel hatchet to hand, don’t worry too much about going out of your way to make a new pickaxe. This difference increases slightly at the upper end of gear, with the difference between the Star Metal tools being slightly more pronounced. However, there isn’t a massive difference between a hatchet or a pick, so just use whichever tool you happen to have on hand if you don’t have the best option. You’ll also get small quantities of regular ice whilst harvesting Black Ice, which is excellent for keeping your preservation boxes running back home or helping with exploration within the Volcano.
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Black Ice – Exiled Lands
Black Ice in the Exiled Lands is best found where you’re probably already guessing it will be. If you head into the Frozen North, you can find plenty of nodes scattered around to harvest. With even a semi-decent Steel tool, you’ll get more than enough to tide you over for a while. Throughout The Frozen North, you’ll find tonnes of Black Ice nodes scattered around. Some are easy to find; others are indeed in some hazardous locations.
Therefore, my recommendation for farming Black Ice in The Exiled Lands is near the north-eastern Obelisk, between the Frozen Slopes and the Temple of Frost. This spot has a handful of nodes, but given the fact that you can harvest quite a bit of Black Ice from each node, this should be more than enough to keep you stocked up on Black Ice. You’ll have to take quite the journey back, so it’s best to travel here with a horse, but it is the best and safest option for acquiring Black Ice on The Exiled Lands. If you’re unsure how to attune and use the nearby Obelisk, you can check out our comprehensive guide on all the Obelisk locations and how to use them here.
Black Ice – Isle of Siptah
Finding Black Ice on the Isle of Siptah is a bit harder, given the lack of a snow biome. However, there are smaller clusters of Black Ice scattered across the map. The highest concentration of these nodes can be found right in the centre of the Isle, surrounding the Tower that stands tall over the land. However, this can be quite a dangerous location given all the surrounding enemies. If the Maelstrom is active, the area is filled with ungodly abominations that will rip you, making getting your fill of Black Ice particularly difficult.
The best spot to find Black Ice on the Isle of Siptah depends on your base. Without the Obelisk system, the map can be challenging to traverse correctly. My recommendation is located in Map Square N12, on the north-eastern island. This island is populated by aggressive creatures, including bears, lions, and sabretooths. Still, fortunately, you can avoid combat with these animals.
On the rocky outcrops near the mouth of the waterfall on the south-western side of the island, a few Black Ice deposits are scattered around. These can provide you with a decent amount of Black Ice, enough to suit your needs. Again, recommending a good spot on the Isle of Siptah is tricky, depending on your base location. If you’re nowhere near this spot, you can try to find some deposits near you using this resource map.
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If you don’t already know how to craft steel, it’s not too difficult to attain; you’ll just have to do a little bit of resource farming to acquire it. Steel bars require Steelfire smelted together Iron Bars. They’re smelted at a 5:1 ratio, using 5 Iron and 1 Steelfire per 1 Steel bar, though this ratio can be improved with some of the end-game crafting stations.
Creation of this resource also requires the Firebowl Cauldron feat, made available at Level 15 and requiring 3 feat points to unlock. Iron bars are pretty self-explanatory; you just have to smelt Ironstone in a furnace to create them, though Steelfire is often a stumbling point for players entering the mid-game and struggling to attain enough resources to keep up a steady supply. If you’re in that situation yourself, I recommend checking out a guide from fellow Conan expert Ceronesthes on how to make Steelfire.
As I’ve already mentioned, different crafting benches will have different outcomes on your crafting times and resource ratios. This usually poses quite the problem. You’ll have to decide whether you prefer a resource cost reduction or an increase in crafting speed. However, with Hardened Steel, that decision is fortunately made quite a bit easier.
Since Hardened Steel is crafted at a 1:1 ratio, it’s impossible to get the input amounts of 1 Steel and 1 Black Ice any lower, making the path of progression from the regular furnace to an end-game choice much easier. As you progress through the different furnaces in the game, you’ll see an increase in the crafting time. Some furnaces also reduce fuel costs, making your fuels last longer and thus smelt more resources per unit. To make this progression path clear, I’ll detail a list below of each furnace and its Hardened Steel crafting time. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend making your furnace choice based solely on its capability to smelt Hardened Steel, but it is something to consider.
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Furnace -15 seconds per bar)
Improved Furnace -15 seconds per bar)
Improved Furnace (Kiln) – 10.5 seconds per bar
Fuel-Efficient Furnace – 10.5 seconds per bar
Heat-Efficient Furnace – 3 seconds per bar
If you’re looking to pump out massive quantities of Hardened Steel in a concise amount of time and have a healthy amount of resources, the Heat-Efficient Furnace is your best bet to meet that goal. However, this probably isn’t a common scenario to encounter.
If you’re progressing through the game as normal, or you just need some more Hardened Steel in the later game, you should factor in your other crafting needs when deciding between a furnace that reduces smelting time, like the Heat-Efficient, or a furnace that saves you time and resources in the long run by conserving your fuel, like the Fuel-Efficient Furnace. If you’re rolling in oil (not literally), then the smelting speed increase can be beneficial. However, if you’re struggling with fuel, it is worth trading off that increase in crafting time to ensure you don’t run dry on fuel.
See also: Conan Exiles Shaped Wood Guide
Question: Is there any way to craft or farm Black Ice without going out and mining the nodes?
Answer: I’m afraid not. Some enemies can drop very small quantities of Black Ice. Still, much like many other resources in the game, it is not worth attempting to farm these drops, as it’s inefficient and honestly a waste of your time. Instead, it’s best to harvest Black Ice from the nodes as intended. Yes, it can be a pain, but you’ll end up with much more Black Ice in the long run.
Question: Is it worth attempting to build up a stock of Hardened Steel early in the game to avoid running into a drought later on?
Answer: Yes and no. If you happen to have some Steel bars and some Black Ice, it’s not exactly a terrible idea to smelt up a few bars of Hardened Steel, especially if you have a clanmate high enough level to make some of the basic Hardened Steel weapons, it can be very much helpful. However, building up a large stock of these bars before you need them isn’t a great idea, in my opinion.
There are many things to worry about in the early game, and Hardened Steel only joins that list in the mid to late game. That’s not to mention the inevitable frustration if you manage to lose your backstock of Hardened Steel in a PvP raid or a purge. Instead, wait until you need to acquire them. You’ll have better tools, armour, and weapons by that time, making it easier to fulfill that need quickly.
Question: Considering how relatively easy it is to make Hardened Steel, is it worth trying to skip the Steel phase?
Answer: In my opinion, yes, if you know what you’re doing. If it’s your first time playing, I highly encourage getting familiar with all of the intricacies of crafting and farming. However, if you’ve played your fair share of Conan Exiles and you have a decent grasp of things, you could quite easily save any Steel you smelt to turn into Hardened Steel and completely skip the Steel phase. I wholeheartedly recommend going straight to Hardened Steel if you want to be efficient, but make sure you have a firm grasp on the basics first.
Hardened steel is an important stepping stone between Steel and Star Metal. It provides access to some great armours, weapons, and workbenches within Conan Exiles. Hardened steel is relatively easy to produce in a decent quantity of higher-end resources, requiring only Steel bars and Black Ice. Acquiring the steel is quite self-explanatory, but the part that most will usually find difficult is developing a steady, sustainable supply of Black Ice.
Hopefully, this guide has made it clear to you how to set up that sustainable supply and ensure you always have access to Hardened Steel. It can be a bit of a pain. Still, by acquiring Hardened Steel, you can make your eventual transition into Star Metal a much easier process. So you can eventually get your hands on even more powerful weapons, tools, and armour.