View Full Version : Black powder composition

11-16-2006, 10:14 PM
What are the % of sulfur, saltpeter and charcoal in BP? How would you make BP? How would you grind it up to make the different grades? Anybody know?

11-16-2006, 10:36 PM

11-16-2006, 10:46 PM
See if any of this helps



11-16-2006, 10:46 PM

There's a LOT more to making BP than just stirring up sulfur, potassium nitrate and charcoal. You have to have the right kinds - especially charcoal - and there is a lot of dampening, pressing into "cake", breaking up the cake, sifting by granule size, coating with graphite, etc., etc., and some of the processing steps are dangerous indeed. In fact, powder mill grinding and sifting rooms were designed to "blow" (safely, with NO-ONE present once the machinery was switched on), with sturdy beam frames, and light scantlings for walls and roof held with one nail per. One of the old "Shooters" crew, Bill Knight (aka "madmonk"), and our own "Linstrum" have forgotten more about the topic than the rest of us will ever know. Yes, you CAN mix the three magic powders, and - when fresh - they will go "POOF" when lit off, you still won't have REAL Black Powder (and you may lose your eyebrows - that scene from "Viva Zapata" with the powder train slowly sizzling along enroute to the RR tunnel is a fake - it will all go at once!)

If you think casting the perfect boolit is sorcery, making good BP is pure magic of the highest order! Don't mean to be discouraging, but... most of us who date from the '40's have "been there, done that".

[Gang: where is the Mad Monk hanging out these days; anyone seen him lately?]


11-16-2006, 11:29 PM
Ok now I see. I knew of the recipe but the process was unknown. Thanks for the info guys.

Can you guys give me any good websites on BP shooting and hunting?

11-16-2006, 11:52 PM


just google for "make black powder"

11-17-2006, 02:22 AM
It's really somewhere in between pure magic and the most dangerous processing steps indeed. Google and library some of the oldest encyclopedias and you will find all the information needed to make your own. I am one of those '40s' guys and I will tell you this; You can do it, but you best stick with small quantities................................PERIOD! Been there and done it.....
As a side note, there are many recipes for making the 4th of July salutes we all appreciate every year. That is also a simple formula, typically only TWO ingredients. And I know many people who "roll their own". But they do so with SMALL amounts. It's the difference between ringing ears and singed eyebrows and the periodical story that makes the local newspaper of a house moved off its foundations, with no survivors found(let alone identified, although DNA testing is very good these days.:-D )..........................Lee:)

11-17-2006, 09:50 AM
Like a bunch of you guys I to made my own back in the 60s The carbon was the hardest to get right for me back then.Next hardest was corning.I did make a batch or two that was close to the old Dupont we were using as a standard.Well maybe 75%.But with the internet info around now and the charcoal and homemade ball mills info I think I could make a darn good BP.
BUT,being able to buy 25 lb at 10 bucks a lb I think I will pass.I have sorta grown attached to the body parts I have.Even if they dont work so well anymore.

11-17-2006, 09:54 AM
BTW,Goex and Dupont before them who do this for a living would have a accident every 3-4 years.ISTR Goex plant went up in La. a couple years ago.

11-17-2006, 11:27 AM
If you're interested in a good book about the history & development of BP, take a look at Jack Kelly's "Gunpowder" (2004: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-03718-6). There's even a chapter about smokeless powder that is substantially, but not completely accurate.

Old Ironsights
11-17-2006, 12:24 PM
The most excellent site on Net is Ulrich's Black Powder Page.


Read it ALL. The guy is a Swiss Engineer and has it totally dialed in.

11-17-2006, 05:16 PM
How about some buckskinning web sites?

Old Ironsights
11-17-2006, 05:31 PM
For liability reasons, most of the US buckskinning sites I'm on are HIGHLY reluctant to discuss "homebrew"....

11-17-2006, 06:35 PM
[Gang: where is the Mad Monk hanging out these days; anyone seen him lately?]

There is someone posting under that handle at The Muzzeloading Forum (www.muzzleloadingforum.com). Don't know if it is the same person or not.