Minecraft Iron Ore Guide: Best Level to Find Iron

In Short
  • Iron ores generate at almost every altitude, but the best levels to find and mine iron are Y level = 16 and Y level = 232 in Minecraft.
  • You may explore caves or branch mine to get iron. Either way, you should bring torches and a fortune pickaxe to do the job faster.
  • Huge iron veins also generate in the deepslate layers, and they contain lots of tuff blocks and iron ores.

Iron is undoubtedly one of the most important resources in Minecraft. It is part of several recipes, mechanics, and progression features that are essential in every Minecraft world. An iron farm is the best source of iron in later stages, but you are more likely to simply go mining in the early game. In this guide, we’ll share what the best level to find and mine iron in Minecraft is and how you should go about it. So, let’s get started!

Best Y Level to Get Iron in Minecraft

Iron ores are unique compared to other ores. Taking a look at the ore distribution chart, you may see that there are three different iron ore generating levels in the world. The first one is present in the high terrain only, so in mountain Minecraft biomes. It generates iron ores from Y level = 80 to Y level = 256. The most iron ores the game will generate appear around Y level = 232 for this batch.

Ore distribution chart
Image courtesy: X/Henrik Kniberg

The second batch spawns iron ores underground from Y level = -24 to Y level = 56. The most ores you’ll find in this area are around the Y coordinate of 16. The iron ores that are generated in the deepslate layers replace deeplsate and tuff blocks (Java edition only) and become deepslate iron ores. The third batch simply generates iron ores evenly from Y level = -64 to Y level = 72.

So, to sum it up, you will most commonly find iron ores at Y level = 16 and Y level = 232. Out of these two Y levels, the 232 level is better, as it spawns more iron ores. Moreover, they are usually even exposed, so you can spot them easily.

Though, this is just the case in the mountain biomes, which may not be so easy to locate. Hence, the safest Y level for mining iron in Minecraft is 16, as you are guaranteed to find iron ores here pretty much everywhere.

Items You Should Bring to Mine Iron

Now, let’s figure out what items you should bring while mining for iron underground. The items we recommend are:

  • Decent armor
  • Weapon and a shield
  • Decent amount of food
  • Preferably Fortune III iron, diamond, or netherite pickaxe
  • Decent shovel
  • Lots of torches
  • Bucket of water
  • Crafting table
  • Chest or two
  • Bed

The armor, weapon, and shield will keep you safe from approaching hostile mobs from the caves. Food will let you replenish hunger and health. All pickaxe tiers, except wooden and gold, can mine iron ores. By default, they’ll grant one raw iron item. But, if you have a Fortune III enchantment on your pickaxe, you will increase the number of dropped raw iron items from a single ore. Silk touch enchantment will let you obtain the ore block itself.

So, if you have assembled the enchanting set-up, definitely try obtaining the fortune enchantment first. The shovel will be useful for mining underground dirt and gravel. Torches are essential in any underground expedition. They’re easy to make light source blocks that will stop hostile mobs from spawning in an area and also allow you to see your surroundings. Water bucket will help you reach some locations easily and also get rid of the lava.

Crafting table will help you compact the raw iron items you get into raw iron blocks, which will save inventory space. The chest‘s purpose would be the same. While you’re branch mining (explained in our guide to find gold) you will get lots and lots of blocks.

Player's inventory full of useful items for finding iron in Minecraft

To maximize the iron gain, you should prepare a chest or two to get as much of valuable resources as possible. Finally, the bed will let you skip nighttime and therefore make the surface monster-free, so it’s safe to leave your mine.

What Is the Best Way to Find Iron in Minecraft

As you might’ve noticed, we talked about the caves and branch mining in the previous section. These are the two methods of mining and finding valuable resources in Minecraft. Both of these ways are viable and simply depend on your personal preference. So, let’s go over some of their characteristics right now.

Method 1: Exploring Caves

Massive cave where you can find lots of iron ores

Exploring caves is a fast way of gathering resources like iron. The iron ores might generate in the floor, wall, or ceiling and your job is to locate them to mine them. The time it takes to get plenty of iron depends on you, your movement speed, and your observation skills. However, this method is also fairly dangerous.

Hostile mobs spawn in dark areas and depending on the size of the cave, there might be lots of mobs for you to defeat. Not only that; dripstone caves and the deep dark are more hazard-filled, lush caves and no underground biome areas. So, if you need iron fast and are up for a combat challenge, then caving is the way to go.

Method 2: Branch Mining

Branch mining technique to find iron in Minecraft

Branch mining is a mining method that implies you dig a two or three-block tall and one-block wide tunnel into the side of the terrain. Then you branch off the main tunnel and create other ones going towards different directions. By doing so, you’ll uncover materials that have no air exposure but still generate.

This method is a safe way of gathering resources. You’re creating all the spawnable areas and therefore can initially prevent them from spawning mobs. However, opposite to the caving method, the time it takes to get lots of iron depends on the speed of your tools, as well as luck.

You might be branch mining for a while but still not finding that many iron ores. So, if you’re not in a hurry and just want to relax and safely mine some blocks in Minecraft, then branch mining is the perfect mining method.

Finding Huge Iron Veins in Minecraft

Finally, let’s talk about one special feature that is related to iron and iron ores. If you’re lucky, you can stumble upon huge iron veins in Minecraft caves. These terrain features are generated only in the deeplsate layers of your world from Y level = -56 to -8 more or less.

You’ll probably find some large ore veins while casually mining resources, but these iron veins are truly huge. They can generate in a winding pattern with lots and lots of deeplsate iron ores.

Huge iron vein

Two very clear indicators suggest iron vein is not a regular vein but a huge one. Firstly, tuff blocks are the main part of this feature. They will always generate intertwining with iron ores and there will be an absolute abundance of them. However, a regular iron vein can simply generate in a blob of tuff too. The difference is that tuff and iron ores will together spread in various directions and cover a large area.

The second indicator is raw iron blocks. These blocks don’t generate anywhere else in Minecraft, so once you find them you know that’s the huge iron vein you’re looking at. You may then break the ore in the crafting grid to get 9 raw iron items, which turn into 9 iron ingots after they’re smelted.

There you have it. Now you know what the best level to find, mine, and collect iron is in Minecraft. So don’t waste any more time and start mining away!

Is iron renewable?

Iron ingots are renewable. They are easily farmable through an iron farm. Though iron ores, just like other ores are not farmable. They generate in the world and you may only get them by exploring and mining them manually.

Do villagers sell iron?

No, the smithing villagers will buy iron from the player, but not sell it.

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