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Aluminum and Hemalurgy


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Some recent discussions got me thinking about the way aluminum (and its alloys) interact with the metallic arts. We know that aluminum has odd effects on all forms of investiture. For reference, here is what we know so far about its role in the Scadrial systems:


(Spoilered for length, and so you will feel free to skip ahead if you don't want the recap.)



Allomancy: When burned, aluminum purges other metals without using them. It is also inert to nearly all the other allomantic effects. It has no atium-shadow, iron and steel can't Pull or Push it, zinc and brass can't Riot or Soothe if it's in the way, and it gives off interference of some sort when Seeking with bronze. (Questions about time bubbles and aluminum have been RAFO's but we can bet something unusual happens.)


Feruchemy: An aluminum mind stores spiritual identity--we haven't seen this onscreen, but there are a number of theories about what this means. Aluminum (such as a bullet) can in a limited way prevent gold-healing. It is likely that aluminum can similarly interfere with other feruchemical abilities, though internal nature of feruchemy means that the circumstances leading to such an interaction are far fewer than those leading to the allomantic effects.


Hemalurgy: An aluminum spike transfers allomantic enhancement abilities (chromium, nicrosil, duralumin, aluminum).




Allomancy: Superboosts another metal, using it all up in the process.


Feruchemy: A duralumin mind stores spiritual connection. Again, no on-screen confirmations, but several theories on how it works and possible users.


Hemalurgy: A duralumin spike steals feruchemical spiritual abilities (chromium, nicrosil, duralumin, aluminum).


Side Question: We know that some alloys of aluminum share its inert/shielding qualities. Do we know if duralumin is one of these? Can duralumin be Pushed, etc?


Okay, on to the main point.

One of the "side effects" of hemalurgy is that it opens the spiked individual to outside influence. This can be leveraged by Shards, but also by Soothers or Rioters. The influence can range from mental suggestions to total control (depending on the amount of power used to exert this influence; according to HoA, Soothers can cooperate for sufficient strength to control Koloss, for example. A nicro-boost or duralumin boost also works.)


My main question: What about an individual spiked with aluminum (or perhaps duralumin)? Does aluminum's resistance to emotional allomancy translate to protection from hemalurgic control? Or is its metallic inertness trumped by the fact that the direct access to their soul introduced inherently in the process of being spiked?

Edited by ccstat
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Well, duralumin is quite heavy on aluminum; depending on the mix, it's only between 1-5% copper, usually, with the rest aluminum.


So, does the high percentage of aluminum carry over the inertness qualities?  Or does the fact that duralumin itself has a separate Allomantic ability mean that it's exempt from the "most aluminum alloys" qualifier?

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The books tell us that allomancer's duralumin is 3% copper. If I were to guess, I'd say that is close enough to aluminum to be inert to Pushes, etc. but we would need confirmation. I was hoping someone might find a scene from the original trilogy where Vin noted the presence or absence of blue lines pointing to her duralumin, but I think there was no mention either way.


I personally doubt it's that simple.

Are you talking about the possible inertness of duralumin, or the potential for an aluminum spike to mask the Flaw introduced by hemalurgy? With the paragraph break it wasn't quite clear.

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Since aluminum doesn't interfer with feruchemy (it stores Identity), I doubt it would interfer with hemalurgy. However, just as an allomancer shouldn't be able to push or pull on an aluminum metal mind (since we already know that they can't with non-metalmind aluminum), I doubt that an allomancer could push or pull on an aluminum hemalurgic spike. The spike wouldn't grant emotional allomancy defense, since it seems that the user needs to... well, they need to have a tinfoil hat, and a spike is not a hat.

As for if duralumin is immune to pushes and pulls, why should it be? We know that not all alloys are, and that without evidence to the contrary, it seems most reasonable to treat it like any other random alloy (that is, not immune to pushes and pulls). If anything, I'd guess that it would make pushes and pulls stronger (though I am dubious that Sanderson would make things quite so symetrical). The real question is: is the aluminum that the Vanishers use burnable by a mistborn/aluminum gnat (my guess is yes)? And also, does chromium block allomancy as well?

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 The real question is: is the aluminum that the Vanishers use burnable by a mistborn/aluminum gnat (my guess is yes)?


The metal that the Vanishers used was not allomantic aluminum, the proof is somewhere in the AoL but I don't have my copy on me right now.  It took Wax, who is experienced in metallurgy, a good chunk of a night to come up with an idea of what the alloy was since he had never seen it before.  If a mistborn or an aluminum gnat burned it the most possible result would be that the allomancer would become very sick and unable to do anything, like what happened to Vin in her attempts to discover duralumin.  However the other possible outcome would be a weakened effect from the aluminum if it was close enough to pure allomantic aluminum.  This could raise the question of what would the effects of a weakened impure aluminum do when burned? would some amount of your metals be left after burning the aluminum?

Edited by bluepotion
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The very fact that Duralumin has a different Allomatic effect means it is an entirely separate metal.


Aluminum spikes ... Unlikely. The aluminum needs to be surrounding the head to block Pushing / Pulling on emotions.

Heh. Aluminum-headed Koloss 

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Thanks for the input. I haven't completely abandoned this possibility, but it does seem a bit less likely. Here's my thought process:

  • Someone with a hemalurgic spike can be influenced by an outside force, such as a shard or a soother. That influence only works when the spike is in place (e.g. Vin's earring, Spook's spike).
  • Spiking has been described as stapling an exogenous piece of spiritweb onto your soul. There are two pieces here that could provide the route of influence: the spike itself, and the stolen piece of spiritweb. Specifically, the susceptibility to outside influence could be a direct result of the amalgamated nature of your spiritweb (I think of it as loose contacts in the grafted piece). Alternatively, the influence could get in via the spike itself (like an antenna). 
  • If the influence gets in via the spiritweb and just travels down the spike, then aluminum shouldn't make a difference at all. If it instead gets in via the spike, then there is a fair chance that aluminum would do something funky.

Since a soother's normal abilities aren't dependent on a spike in their target, I suspect that their ability to take over a koloss (for example) is simply a case of overloading the system until some overflow through the modified spiritweb causes a loss of control. I don't know for sure, though.

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