There's really no "limit" to the amount of folds. But after 12 to 15 folds your material loss will be 50-75% depending on the quality of the bloom from the start. You don't really "burn" out the carbon by folding so long as it's not an oxidizing fire. Carbon loves oxygen.
It varies from no carbon to cast iron. The brighter, silvery pieces are higher carbon, the duller pieces are lower carbon. If all you end up with is low carbon, you can re-melt it (a process called "oroshigane"wink, adding more carbon.
Ebay is a place to get the authentic Japanese stuff. I make my own version of Tamahagane with iron ore collected from playground sand and a large magnet. Chemically it's the same. And yes, I have made Damascus. Both bloom iron (tamahagane) and damascus go hand in hand as folding is necessary to "purify" the steel.
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