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Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Ironsights View Post
    I just don't like grinding BP by hand. I really hate burned knuckles/eyebrows.

    OTOH, used rock tumblers are cheap and they produce a better/more consistent blending... plus you can do about a pound at a time while keeping the blending process away from your face.
    you only mix charcoal and sulfer in the ball mill

    i do it this way http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkWKffzY0Yk its alot safer
    and it keeps in the granulated for a good bit

  2. #42
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    Here is the write-up

    I made my powder tonight and took pictures along the way. First, let me say that along with other processes discussed on this site, making your own black powder has its own set of risks and hazards all of which should be well understood and mitigated should you decide to do it. Also, make sure that if you decide to do it, you are in compliance with any laws that may apply. Lastly, I have read all the posts on this thread about the dangers of this process and why we shouldnt be doing it, I especially am entertained by those that counsel against it because of how dangerous it is....so is melting lead. If you dont think this should be done then dont do it. I am posting this because I think its neat, it makes me feel a little connection with those that have gone before me and paved the way for our 'hobby' (which was their necessity), and I like to know how things worked. If you are wondering if I am qualified to do this, dont worry about it, I am an adult and can take care of myself. I wont post about how qualified I am.
    Last but not least, I have fired this powder in my .50 cal TC black diamond with great results, next year I intend to kill a deer with powder I made and a bullet I cast.

    Ingredients:
    The ratio is 15:3:2 Of KNO3, Charcoal, and Sulfur respectively. I make batches using (in grams) 150g KNO3, 30g charcoal, and 20g sulfur. You must make your own charcoal out of willow, grass, or another very soft wood or it wont work well. I make my own out of willow, grind the charcoal in a hand crank old fashioned meat grinder, then screen it to sift out the chunks, and use only the fine product for the process. To learn how to make your own charcoal, google it.
    You will also need some 90+% isopropyl alcohol, chilled in the freezer (i put it in the night before), 750ml is fine, and I use the whole bottle.



    I buy my other ingredients on line from a pyrotechnic supply co, get the finest grade you can.

    Process:
    1. Measure your amounts and screen/sift the charcoal and sulfur together to keep it fluffy.
    2. Bring about three cups of water to boil on stove, stir in 150g KNO3. Keep stirring and make sure all the KNO3 is dissolved, dont overwater the mix as it will be harder to reprecipitate later. Turn off heat.


    3. Slowly sift in the charcoal and sulfur mix. It will float on top of the water so wisk it in or stir vigorously until you have a grayish sludge.


    4. Once the sludge is fully mixed and wetted, remove it from the stove and pour in the chilled alcohol while stirring.

    5. Keep stirring until the sludge is cool. I actually will put the pan in an ice bath to bring the temp down to ice water temp. What this does is causes the KNO3 to precipitate out of solution onto the charcoal and sulfur particles allowing for intimate oxidizer/fuel apposition. You will see the previously watery mix begin to thicken as the precipitation occurs.



    6. Once you are confident all the KNO3 has precipitated out (its been ice cold for about 5-10 min), you can begin to carefully pour it through a coffee filter supprted by a screen strainer.



    7. Let the liquid filter out, it takes a while and I usually have to do two filters worth as they fill up quick. I also scoop and pour into the filter to reduce mess.

    8. After most of the liquid exits via gravity, bunch up the filter, wrap another filter around it and begin to slowly squeeze out excess liquid until you have a compacted ball of powder. This you can set on a wad of paper towels until ready for use.



    9. It is necessary to get as much liquid out as you can prior to corning, if excess remains it will mud up when pushed through a mesh and not grain up properly. Once you have a nice ball, grate it through a screen onto a large pan lined with paper for drying. Allow this to dry over night, undisturbed, away from flame, where a kitty cat wont find it!!!!





    Meet your new black powder. I store it in cleaned out tupperware or used powder cans that seal well. I have used some in my .50 cal that was a year old successfully. You can put a packet of rice in to absorb moisture and dont store too much in one container. Test it, play with it, have fun. Remember, you are responsible for your own actions not me (or anyone else for that matter). I post this only in the spirit of sharing something that I made that I found to be quite enjoyable so do your homework and be safe.
    Again, for those that have poo poo'd making black powder, dont do it then. BTW, the batch I just made cost me about 50 cents.
    Mike

  3. #43
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    Outstanding post!
    Boolits= as God laid it into the soil,,grand old Galena,the Silver Stream graciously hand poured into molds for our consumption.

    Bullets= Machine made utilizing Full Length Gas Checks as to provide projectiles for the masses.

    http://www.cafepress.com/castboolits

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  4. #44
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    ALL RIGHT, GREAT JOB!
    Glad someone on CB did it and posted the process here, as proof positive that it is as easy as it sounds, and looks- just takes time to do. The old timers had to find everything and refine the ingredients to make it, which made it much harder to acquire, and more work intensive. Heck, they probably weren't as safety oriented either.
    I've watched others on You Tube, etc., and this is just as good as any of those productions I've seen there. Congratulations!
    USMC 1980-1985

  5. #45
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    Awesome tutorial Atom! Can't wait to try it out. What website do you get your ingredients from?

    Matt

  6. #46
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    EBay, scienceforyou.net is where I got mine.

  7. #47
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    Screen size could allow you to change granulation from 4Fg, to 3Fg and 2Fg.
    Would you say your BP is as fine as 4Fg after pushing through your sieve, or is it finer or coarser?
    USMC 1980-1985

  8. #48
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    Yes, changing screen size would give you different burn characteristics. I haven't messed with that yet. Mine is about 3F. My grains are more fragile than commercial powder but still functioned well. My buddy is gonna use some in his optima and run his chrono. I would like to know how fast its pushing the sabots I'm shooting.
    Last edited by atom73; 01-26-2011 at 11:30 PM. Reason: spelling error

  9. #49
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    I think that is fantastic. I am glad I have seen it. It makes sense.
    I have no plans to follow through, but to have seen it done is great. That is right up there with watching the stock making machine at the Springfield armory. I am pretty sure I will remember it.
    I tried gold processing. I saw it done, and got all fired up. Not as easy as it looks. I tried it though. I spent several hundred dollars, and got less than one hundred. Not as bad as it could have been. I did it though.
    Thanks for taking the time, and sharing with us.
    I appreciate it.

  10. #50
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    Thumbs up More info, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by atom73 View Post
    Yes, changing screen size would give you different burn characteristics. I haven't messed with that yet. Mine is about 3F. My grains are more fragile than commercial powder but still functioned well. My buddy is gonna use some in his optima and run his chrono. I would like to know how fast its pushing the sabots I'm shooting.
    Yea, I'd like to know the how well it performs also. Please, post the results whe nyou get that info.
    I think the factory adds more "binder", as someone said above, or maybe a glaze to coat and protect it from absorbing moisture less rapidily, IIRC. I think that is what they do to modern powders to inhibit burn rate and for same protection, IIRC. Graphite coating is added to aid despensing, which may contribute to preventing moisture absorbtion too. Can't remember exactly- been too long since I read about it.

    I've got some new one gallon paint cans that I can use as my retort to make the charcoal- lots of it, as I have lots of black willow!
    Last edited by Charlie Sometimes; 01-27-2011 at 12:27 AM.
    USMC 1980-1985

  11. #51
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    I have considered adding a dextrose binder but haven't tried it yet. Yes tumbling with graphite inhibits burn and protects the grains. It just worked so darn well when I shot it in my gun I really hate go screwing with it. I'm sure I will tho. I will post chrono info when I get it, might be a while.

  12. #52
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    Aren't you losing some of the KNO3 in the fluid you wring out of the filter? I'd think that would lower the percentage as there has to be some that is still dissolved in the water (not sure how soluble it is in isopropyl). Speaking of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) the usual 70% is flammable so the 90% stuff is even more so. I have only seen it in 70 & 99% strengths not 90.
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    With 16+revolvers, I've been called the Imelda Marcos of cap&ball.

  13. #53
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    KNO3 is not very soluble in cold water. A little bit will be lost, but not much. (NaNO3 is soluble in cold water.)

    I still think using a ball-mill is a better process.

  14. #54
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    It would seem that using the ball mill to combine your charcoal & sulphur might be the way to go for a really well combined mix.
    I shoot mostly BPCR and I'd really like to try this for grins and giggles. Thanks.

    Bob
    GUNFIRE! The sound of Freedom!

  15. #55
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    I can't say that I will try this but I did enjoyseeing and reading about how it is done. I have a deeper knowledge of this hobby and a lot more respect for our fore fathers.

    Thanks for posting this Atom..It's a job very well done........woody
    23 rd. Vice President of Old Farts International

  16. #56
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    Lightbulb ALL % alcohol is flammable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hellgate View Post
    Aren't you losing some of the KNO3 in the fluid you wring out of the filter? I'd think that would lower the percentage as there has to be some that is still dissolved in the water (not sure how soluble it is in isopropyl). Speaking of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) the usual 70% is flammable so the 90% stuff is even more so. I have only seen it in 70 & 99% strengths not 90.
    Doesn't matter what % it is, ALL alcohol is flammable- no "more so" about it. The water just thins it a little. When it burns, you can not always see the flame either. THAT would be the real hazard. Good 'shine will burn with a blue flame- and a lot of that is, or can be, 190 proof! That gets hard to see, in more ways than one.

    I noticed in the link that camerl2009 posted, that the guy squeezed off the alcohol and didn't save it (maybe for convenience sake at the time of production). I would think it would be reuseable to a point, and therefore no KNO3 would be lost in any of the process- potentially, by using the same liquid to make other batches. Atom73 sent his down the kitchen sink for the local sewer treatment plant to deal with, too (unless you have a septic tank).

    The only way to keep all of the KNO3 in the batch would be to remove all the water, since it is water soluble. Even the finest charcoal get washed out in the filtering process. The filter turns black, and most likely so is the liquid drained off.

    Maybe someone with a little chemistry back ground can show us how much water can be "absorbed" or displaced by the alcohol.
    Last edited by Charlie Sometimes; 01-27-2011 at 11:15 AM.
    USMC 1980-1985

  17. #57
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    I am not overly concerned about loss of KNO3 in the water, yes there is some loss but the powder still works very well. Chilling the mix with ice does help as does using greater conc. of alcohol. I don't have a ball mill and don't plan on getting one. The thing I like about this process is that the oxidizer precipitated onto the fuel for optimal proximity. This does have an effect on burn rate. As for dumping alcohol down the drain, there are no hazardous disposal guidelines on the bottle, I am about as concerned about dumping that down the drain as I am the pan drippings from cooking dinner or ringing shampoo out of hair. It isn't a big deal.

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by zxcvbob View Post
    KNO3 is not very soluble in cold water. A little bit will be lost, but not much. (NaNO3 is soluble in cold water.)

    I still think using a ball-mill is a better process.
    you cant put all 3 ingrediens in the ball mill thats a pipe bomb waiting to happen
    and i think that too much water in the pot there you want to use just enough to
    cover the saltpeter. then let it dissolve then add the charcool and sulfur mix
    to a paste like clay

  19. #59
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    I agree, use the very least amount of water possible and heat to dissolve. I am not planning on ball milling (I have read a bunch on it tho) just because this process is so easy, is safer, and produces great results. Plus, ball mills cost money, even to make. I bought the pot I use at goodwill for a buck.

  20. #60
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    Cool Not knocking your methods..........

    Quote Originally Posted by atom73 View Post
    I am not overly concerned about loss of KNO3 in the water, yes there is some loss but the powder still works very well. Chilling the mix with ice does help as does using greater conc. of alcohol. I don't have a ball mill and don't plan on getting one. The thing I like about this process is that the oxidizer precipitated onto the fuel for optimal proximity. This does have an effect on burn rate. As for dumping alcohol down the drain, there are no hazardous disposal guidelines on the bottle, I am about as concerned about dumping that down the drain as I am the pan drippings from cooking dinner or ringing shampoo out of hair. It isn't a big deal.
    It's a good, practical process, IMHO.
    As to disposal, I could care less what you do with it. I just refered to the fact that if someone were that concerned, they should capture all the drippings and recycle- that might save some saturated solution, and the alcohol contained in it might still displace additonal water (to a point), especially when more is added. It could be self defeating if used too many times, too.
    That is why I mentioned needing to know if alcohol looses it's effectiveness in absorbing or displacing water at some point.

    Only so much KNO3 can be added to hot water to make a super saturated solution- which is called for in this process. Since you have a known ratio amount of KNO3, then figuring out how much water is needed exactly would be easier. KNO3 is the oxidizer in the process, and the more presence, and even distribution it has, the better the burn.

    If you dry out the drippings, I'd bet the quantity of KNO3 is very insignificant. You can even compost your paper filters to help your garden, too!

    I've got a Thumbler's Tumbler that I plan on using to mill the charcoal and sulfur together, when I get around to this. Going to cut the willow limbs today.
    USMC 1980-1985

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