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Thread: Here is the write-up "My homemade black powder"

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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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

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    markinalpine's Avatar
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    I was reading an article at another board in the past, and I've always wondered if you could use graphite, which I believe is pure carbon, insted of charcoal. I remember using graphite to lubricate door locks in the past. It came in a can in a fine powder form, was applied to the internal lock mechanism with a small brush, and was REALLY messy.
    Any way you sell it,
    No matter how you spell it,
    When you start to smell it,
    BO Stinks!

  3. #3
    Anti-Socialist Texan


    geargnasher's Avatar
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    Very nice overview of the process, thanks for sharing.

    Gear
    You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something. --Stephen Adams

    To universalize one's experience and state it as the norm is always thin ice on which to stand.--CharGar

    Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff has always been a valuable skill in all of life's activities. --Bwana


  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    markinalpine : GRAPHITE is used to coat the powder it slightly slows the burning process and helps keep powder from absorbing moisture from the air. While Graphite is nearly pure carbon so are diamonds neither burn well because of the way the atoms are chained together.

    atom73: Have you ever tried with much less water potassium nitrate will not dissolve in alcohol but every drop of water leaving takes some with it.
    When I think back on all the **** I learned in high school it's a wonder I can think at all ! And then my lack of education hasn't hurt me none I can read the writing on the wall.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    Thanks Mike, that's exactly what we needed. Your explanation and recipe should keep some of the rest of us from making mistakes with the process.
    I always felt that if our forefathers did it, we could to. After all they would have gone hungry and the next generation might never have been born. That means NO US.
    IT AIN'T ROCKET SCIENCE, just a process that produces a needed product, with common kitchen tools and common sense.
    If ya have any doubts in your ability, buy yours ready made at the store.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks for posting this. I don't plan on trying it at the moment, but it is very interesting.

    Great tutorial!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Kudos! I think this tutorial is both useful and .... cool! Well done.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Here's that article I mentioned above:
    Home Gunsmith Forums, "Homemade black powder, once again", by Swede.
    http://www.homegunsmith.com/cgi-bin/...;f=101;t=20596

    It's 29 pages long, 286 comments.

    Mark
    Any way you sell it,
    No matter how you spell it,
    When you start to smell it,
    BO Stinks!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master garbear's Avatar
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    how much did that batch make?
    Garbear
    Garbear

  10. #10
    Atom73=Thanks for posting this process. I may have to try this soon. looks pretty easy. Iam almost out of blackpowder. LatheRunner

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    200 grams of ingredients. If end result is the same weight, then a little less than 1/2 lb

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Rockrat

    Have you thought about what firefly1957 has said about throwing away the liquid and with it the ingredients in souloution.
    I would think that you would not end up with the same ratio of components as you started with. Most of what I have read tell about pressing the slurry to remove the liquid. Is this of any concern? Is the loss of ingredients this way compensated for by the amount you start with? Must be huh?
    I just might make some just cause it is cheap and I am curious and I am an inveterate tinkerer.
    Who knows what you may have started? Thanks for making the process simple for us.

    Life is good

  13. #13
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    atom73:

    Thanks for posting. You have a nice kitchen friendly method! I mixed 80:13:7, but have been away from doing it for a while. I used the same mix for propellant in damp rammed model rocket engines and fireworks. I always purchased ball milled saltpeter and sulfur and airfloat grade charcoal. I used a small wooden tumbler and glass balls for mixing in an "out building" and have posted about that. I used to make fireworks and handled some nasty stuff to make colored stars for bursting shells and rockets.

    I first started making BP at age 8 to feed a flintlock rifle.

    I now have nasty asthma attacks from any slight exposure to sulfur or it's smoke, so I am out of that fun and miss it. I have to use the no sulfur substitutes with my smoke-poles. Well, It works, but I miss the real stuff.

    Still have all my fingers and eyes. Only had one small incident as a boy after a very stupid science teacher told me that pool chlorine makes a wonderful oxidizer instead of saltpeter. FLAAAAAAAAAAAAAASH! But I was dressed for it. You shouldn't tell boys things like that. My brother still calls me Flash.

    Gary
    Last edited by onondaga; 01-31-2011 at 06:11 PM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    I think we have a sticky here.
    I am a sovereign individual, accountable
    only to God and my own conscience.

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub Big brass ones's Avatar
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    I use to make fireworks as a younger man and often made black powder for sparklers, fountains, ect. Once I bought 10 lbs of powdered graphite for and tried to make black powder with it. It was the nicest looking stuff, but burned so slowly I could find no use for it. I've still got some of that graphite, which I've used in bullet lubes with limited success (far too messy).

  16. #16
    Boolit Master xfoxofshogo's Avatar
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    i make bp and never have to boil on stove but i do mix it with alcohol and let it dry woks grate

    my stuff shoot just like off the shelf pyrodex RS

    i will have to make some like you did and see if it make it beter

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
    canyon-ghost's Avatar
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    Clarification: KNO3? What is it?

    Ron
    In all, the .41 Magnum would be one of my top choices for an all-around handgun if I were allowed to have only one. - Bart Skelton

  18. #18
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    KNO3 is saltpeter. or saltpetre for our British cousins.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master in Heavens Range
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    Potassium Nitrate. There several grades of it because of it usefulness. You want a chemical grade, rather than an agriculture grade. You do NOT need reagent grade. 99 percent should be much better than good enough. ... felix
    felix

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Marlin Junky's Avatar
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    KNO3 could become more difficult to obtain in the future since it is primarily made by reacting NH4NO3 (Ammonium Nitrate) with either KOH or KCl... so, stock up while you can. I don't think Ammonium Nitrate can be purchased in CA anymore.

    Two questions:

    1) Why not substitute Denatured Alcohol for the 91% isopropyl?

    2) How would one make cartridge grade BP?

    MJ

    P.S. BTW, this procedure looks pretty safe to me. It's only explosive after it's dry, right? KNO3 is non-flammable.
    Last edited by Marlin Junky; 06-24-2011 at 03:49 PM.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check