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Anyone make their own black Powder #16203631 06/27/21
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DingoDuk Offline OP
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Kinda thinking about giving it a try any advice would be much appreciated.

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Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16205860 06/28/21
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Uh, don’t?

Supposedly the old powder mills had the siding loosely nailed on so when they blew, and blow they did, the survivors could nail them back on.


What fresh Hell is this?
Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16206220 06/28/21
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szihn Offline
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I did it a few times when I was a kid. The secret is to NOT dry it in any way but sunlight.

Mix your powders wet so they can't blow and combine them like a black bread dough. I used a cardboard box and set it in the sun for 2 months and then ground it using pieces of about the size of a walnut, one at a time until I got the granulation. Last I sprinkled with graphite and mixed it in small batches. I never had a problem but I was VERY careful and never worked on dry cake in any piece larger than a walnut at one time I figures if a walnut sized piece blew when I held it in my hand (with welding gloves on) and my face was covered with a shield I'd be ok.

Might soil my shorts............but still be OK

Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16206429 06/28/21
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deerstalker Offline
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almost every explosion recorded in any mill was caused by accumulated dust being ignited by a metal on metal spark. some of those mills the guys were over their shoe tops in dust. they had black lung far worse then coal miners.
if a person is even 10% above street IQ today he can make BP safely. i have made BP since the mid fifties and never have had any problems.
except the time i went fishing with little bottles of BP in one hand and a quart of JD in the other. still have a piece of glass in my ass from that.
i fired 20 round ball yesterday from my Mortimer flintlock using my ffg. 18 rounds from 50 yards in a 4 inch circle. the other 2 were at 6 inches. (sweat got in my eyes, my story and i'm sticking to it!)
i mix my batches one pound at a time in a ball tumbler for 8-12 hours. in my experience that is what makes it the best.
in shot for shot test over a chrono my powder is generally 50 fps slower then goex, charges measured by weight. volume measured my mix is 20% more. i figure they press their pucks with high pressure, giving more density.
i am happy with mine. jm2cents .


the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded. Robert E Lee
~Molɔ̀ːn Labé Skýla~
Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16206548 06/28/21
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saddlegun Offline
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Some good advice here.

I have never done it, but I did carefully read the reports of a Swiss technical guy who did it as a hobby.

The components, obviously, are potassium nitrate, sulphur, and charcoal.

The potassium nitrate should be available as stump killer, but do some research. It needs to be almost 100% pure and not contaminated with retardants to stop it from functioning as an oxidizer.

Sulphur, I'm not sure where to get.

The secret to successful black powder is in the complete mixing and in the charcoal.
That charcoal has to be made, as I recall, from small branch sticks of hardwoods like hazel.

The sticks are confined in a full can with a lid pinned on with a skewer, and cooked over a campfire while the volatile gases escape through a small hole in the lid. The idea is to cook the sticks, not burn them, and to ignite the volatile gases. When the volatile gases cease to burn then you should be left with just charcoal. Some experimentation would be needed obviously.

Completely reducing all three components separately with a ball mill (rock tumbler) to the consistency of flour is needed, and then complete mixing is needed in the tumbler, perhaps using glass marbles.

Water is added to make a dough and this is spread out and rolled flat on a dry varnished piece of plywood to dry in the sun. Then the resulting tortilla or pizza crust is broken up and sifted through fine screening, repeatedly until it all passes.

A spark, obviously, would really ruin your day. So no ferrous tools or objects, and you must work outdoors in small batches. Your final tumbling well away from people and buildings.

I take no responsibility for the accuracy of this, nor what happens. This is what I read and what I recall. I neither recommend nor advise anyone to make black powder.

Last edited by saddlegun; 06/28/21.

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Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16206775 06/28/21
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only caution i would add to saddlegun's post is do not use glass marbles. i use .54 cal round ball cast with some alloy i had that tested 25 . almost impossible to sctatch.
glass can chip and contaminate your mix. sulfur is easily obtained in any do-it-yourself store or garden center as a rose supplement food. again as Saddlegun say's it needs to be 100% or as close as possible.
as for drying, any material that can absorb shouldn't be used. Paper ,wood, etc. the potassium nitrate will leach out and reduce the burn rate .
black willow is the holy grail standard for charcoal.
i made a batch and being out of willow charcoal i used mesquite barb-b-que briquettes. that pound of powder needed 2x by weight to equal Goex.

another little tidbit. if a batch does turn out bad, as in you calculated the %'s wrong , add a little more potassium nitrate but don't increase the sulfur. then ball mill it again.
even after granulation i will sometimes re-mill a batch and then run it through a different size screen.

i use pyrex bread pans i stole from the wife and plastic spoons for mixing. the only time i use metal is during the screening/corning/graining process.
of course at that stage the puck is wet to the feel of playdough.
the amount of pressure applied against the screen dictates the size of the grains.

Dextrin as a binder. i find it causes more of a crud ring and don't use it. when graining i mix 50/50 water and rubbing alcohol . i tried straight alcohol but the grains crumble more. the water retards the drying more and the grains are harder.
be safe and if you can't be safe ..........have fun.


the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded. Robert E Lee
~Molɔ̀ːn Labé Skýla~
Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16209175 06/29/21
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saddlegun Offline
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Lots of good information here.

I think that some intrepid souls are going to be making some BP now. grin

Good points about using black willow for charcoal making, and not using glass marbles.

Last edited by saddlegun; 06/29/21.

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Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16222166 07/03/21
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ihookem Offline
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I have been wanting to make black powder for a while now. I got the charcoal but used a hybrid poplar wood . I hope I didnt already mess it up. I will make it sometime and we will see.


But the fruits of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, Gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. Galations 5: 22&23
Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16222257 07/03/21
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deerstalker Offline
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the poplar may work for ya. just mill the dickens out of the combination. i have done experiments with the milling and the longer you mill the faster the burn is. to a point of course.
i find a 12 hour mill is 20% faster than a 8 hr run.
have fun.
when you char the poplar , if the sticks "clink" when its done it should be fine.

Last edited by deerstalker; 07/03/21.

the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded. Robert E Lee
~Molɔ̀ːn Labé Skýla~
Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16227634 07/05/21
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ihookem Offline
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Thanks Deerstalker!! I will go with a 12 hr. mill and see what happens .


But the fruits of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, Gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. Galations 5: 22&23
IC-B

Re: Anyone make their own black Powder [Re: DingoDuk] #16235413 07/08/21
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Sharpsman Offline
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My buddy did but he’s no longer available!


"There ain't no freedom....without gunpowder!"

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