Levels 1-29 Edit
The Knight's Sword is a free-to-play quest that gives 12,725 Smithing experience upon completion. This reward would elevate a level 1 smith to level 29 immediately. It is strongly recommended that people interested in Smithing do this quest as soon as possible. For ironman characters to obtain the iron bars, head to the trees located in level 18 Wilderness next to the bears west of the Graveyard of Shadows
Levels 1-15 Edit
If questing isn't your thing and you'd prefer straight Smithing, bronze bars provide 6.2 experience upon creation of a bar in the forge. Every bar of bronze used in the process of forging weapons or armor will grant you 12.5 experience. For example: A bronze platebody requires 5 bronze bars to forge. 5 x 12.5=62.5. Forging a bronze platebody, therefore, awards you with 62.5 experience in the Smithing skill. (Bronze platebodies aren't available until level 18)
Level 15-35 Edit
At level 15 you can smelt iron, though it is not advisable. Players only have a 50% success rate when smelting iron. Forging iron items is generally skipped over as it is more economical, time and money-wise, to either smelt bronze bars and forge bronze items until steel bars can be smelted, or simply complete the Knight's Sword quest and skip to level 29. Players are able to achieve 100% success if they are using superheat magic, although it is not advisable because of the cost of nature runes.
Levels 29-40 Edit
Level 30-50 Edit
Steel or Iron. Specifically for regular ironman, this may be the best, since iron ore is so quick to collect, and you only need 2 coal per iron ore for steel for ultimate ironman, this method is very slow unless you have nature runes for superheat, but it is better to save nature runes for superheating mithril.
At 17.5 XP per steel bar, you would need 5027 bars to get 87972.5 XP to get from level 30 to 50. If you also smith the steel bars into items at 37.5 XP per bar, you would need 1600 bars to get 88000 XP. Using iron bars at 12.5 XP, you would need 7038 bars, or 2346 bars provided you smith them into tools. This is all assuming that you do not superheat the ore.
In order to minimise losses, it might be recommended to make steel nails depending on prices and then selling them to the GE, this does take longer but can be more economical.
Levels 50-70 Edit
Levels 70-85 Edit
Levels 85-99 Edit