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Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #5261
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
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    I get a significant difference in velocity between grain sizes in cartrdges both with 45 colt and 45/90 im done with 3f for awhile and 2f so i repress to get 1.5f or just keep them for the next milling and toss them in the ball mill for the next run
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
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  2. #5262
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by HWooldridge View Post
    I took the leap and bought 5 lb bags of both KNO3 and Sulfur from Duda. I'm going to experiment with local woods in my area for the charcoal portion. I am expressly interested in cartridge BP at this point.

    Many thanks to all who have posted on this thread to date. I will post results when I have something to write - or you will read about me in the newspaper...BOOM...<LOL>
    Since you're wanting to load cartridges, you'll definitely want the extra density of pressed powder instead of screened, so figure on going that route, and welcome to the "fraternity" and good luck.

    A YouTuber with the channel "Elemental Maker" did an interesting video on using other sources of carbon you might like. Bottom line; stick to wood charcoal.

    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  3. #5263
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    Quote Originally Posted by almar View Post
    Interesting results DB, im not expecting much difference with the 76% batch compared to 75%. You seem to have got a lot better with sassfrass though if i remember correctly. I wish i could send you some of my finished powder to compare. what are you shooting and with what? 1853 enfield with RB? How are you measuring the loads? weight or powder measure? What load are you using? Do you have a benchmark with commercial powder?
    AlMar;
    I did get much better results with my screened Sassafras. BUT, I have come to conclude that the prime reason is, it was so much less dense, that the loads were nearly one third larger, by volume, given the same weight. My pucked Sassafras was faster, but not a lot.
    I'm shooting a .58 caliber 1861 Springfield repop, with patched round balls. I dropped the mini's at the suggestion of a gunsmith friend, a couple of years ago. The rifle was highly inaccurate, out of the box and I was fighting too many variables. He suggested PBR, to get my loads and sights tuned in, and then go back to the conicals.
    I use my 30+ year old triple beams, to measure powder, and do all the tests by weight. All of these tests were 278 grain PBR over 60 grains. I have stayed primarily with 60 grains, because it was the factory recommended load.
    I do not have a bench mark commercial powder. I bought 4 pounds of Graf and Son's Swiss powder when I first bought the rifle, and a 60 grain measure. The powder measured near exact to the 60 grain volume, by weight. Until last year, when I figured out how to get my densities up, my powder was always less dense than the Swiss. I did not buy the chronograph, until after I was out of the Swiss powder, so did not have that word on my tests, until many of them were done. Recently, I started to buy another pound of the Graf powder, to compare with, but they had changed manufacturers, so it was pointless, for my older tests.
    I wish you could send me some of your powder, as well. That would be the true test.
    I only have one concern with this powder and am thinking it is not the powder, but the amount that I was milling. These are the smallest amounts I have made, to test. Every time I opened up my mill jars, the powder was packed in the ends and nearly welded to the rubber in the middle. But the jars had 50 each of .60 cal. round balls and only 20 grams of powder. I would scrape it all off and mill it further, but if it was clumping quickly, it may not have been properly milled. I milled all of the batches 8 hours minimum. I noticed you said you had clumping problems, too. It may not all be the humidity, but the charcoal may have that trait. I still have some of your charcoal, and if one of these tests looks really good, I'll make a larger batch of just the one.
    “Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.” – Yogi Berra

  4. #5264
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vettepilot View Post
    Since you're wanting to load cartridges, you'll definitely want the extra density of pressed powder instead of screened, so figure on going that route, and welcome to the "fraternity" and good luck.

    A YouTuber with the channel "Elemental Maker" did an interesting video on using other sources of carbon you might like. Bottom line; stick to wood charcoal.

    Vettepilot
    Sticking with wood is good advice - thank you. I found a page from a fireworks hobbyist who tested various wood charcoals and it looks like light softwoods are the way to go. Bamboo apparently doesn't have much oomph for gunpowder.

    http://www.wichitabuggywhip.com/fire...oal_tests.html

  5. #5265
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleBuck View Post
    AlMar;
    I did get much better results with my screened Sassafras. BUT, I have come to conclude that the prime reason is, it was so much less dense, that the loads were nearly one third larger, by volume, given the same weight. My pucked Sassafras was faster, but not a lot.
    I'm shooting a .58 caliber 1861 Springfield repop, with patched round balls. I dropped the mini's at the suggestion of a gunsmith friend, a couple of years ago. The rifle was highly inaccurate, out of the box and I was fighting too many variables. He suggested PBR, to get my loads and sights tuned in, and then go back to the conicals.
    I use my 30+ year old triple beams, to measure powder, and do all the tests by weight. All of these tests were 278 grain PBR over 60 grains. I have stayed primarily with 60 grains, because it was the factory recommended load.
    I do not have a bench mark commercial powder. I bought 4 pounds of Graf and Son's Swiss powder when I first bought the rifle, and a 60 grain measure. The powder measured near exact to the 60 grain volume, by weight. Until last year, when I figured out how to get my densities up, my powder was always less dense than the Swiss. I did not buy the chronograph, until after I was out of the Swiss powder, so did not have that word on my tests, until many of them were done. Recently, I started to buy another pound of the Graf powder, to compare with, but they had changed manufacturers, so it was pointless, for my older tests.
    I wish you could send me some of your powder, as well. That would be the true test.
    I only have one concern with this powder and am thinking it is not the powder, but the amount that I was milling. These are the smallest amounts I have made, to test. Every time I opened up my mill jars, the powder was packed in the ends and nearly welded to the rubber in the middle. But the jars had 50 each of .60 cal. round balls and only 20 grams of powder. I would scrape it all off and mill it further, but if it was clumping quickly, it may not have been properly milled. I milled all of the batches 8 hours minimum. I noticed you said you had clumping problems, too. It may not all be the humidity, but the charcoal may have that trait. I still have some of your charcoal, and if one of these tests looks really good, I'll make a larger batch of just the one.
    Well barring actually doing the test yourself, I guess that the next best thing is to search the internet for reports of other people doing test in their firearms.

    https://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/t...enfield.65679/

    If you go to post 6. He gets 1288 with 80gr of goex so...there may be barrel lenght differences, not sure, but +20gr is alot...

    Now to know if its badly milled, burn some if you see specs of white then it needs to go back. But a clean burn is not always a sign that its the best it can be either.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  6. #5266
    Boolit Buddy
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    These are the main results of the tests I've made since early Spring, a year ago, when I bought the chronograph.
    All are 75-15-10 recipe, 60 grains weighed powder under a 278 grain PRB. All have been milled with a HF 2 drum mill, using just one jar, with 50 pure lead round balls of .60 cal., for 4-8 hours, depending on looks and burn rate tests, and cleanliness. Densities of 1.6-1.7 g/cc. with a target of 1.7. 2ff unless noted.

    Black Locust Sprouts: 1170 fps 5 shots
    Balsa: 1325 fps 5 shots
    Sassafras screened + 2% Dextrin: 1364 fps 10 shots (not pucked) 50 yds.
    Paulownia: 1300 fps 10 shots (50 yds.)
    Paulownia: 1299 fps 10 shots (75 yds.)
    Paulownia: 1269 fps 10 shots (75 yds.)
    Paulownia: 1300 fps 10 shots (75 yds.)
    Paulownia: 1301 fps 10 shots (75 yds.)
    Sassafras: 1360 fps 10 shots (75 yds. screened, 2% dextrin not pucked)
    Sassafras: 1351 fps 21 shots (100 yds. screened, 2% dextrin not pucked)
    Sassafras: 1343 fps 10 shots (100 yds. pucked 1.7 density)
    Cannabis Sativa: 1222 fps 10 shots (75 yds. 1.7 density non debarked) 9 shots hit 3" bull
    Cannabis Sativa: 1214 fps 10 shots (100 yds.)
    'Brown' Black Willow: 1258 fps 10 shots (50 yds.)
    'Brown' Black Willow: 1266 fps 10 shots (75 yds.)
    'Brown' Black Willow: 1110 fps??? 10 shots (75 yds. 22 days after above 2ff 1.72 density) Same powder as above.
    'Brown' Black Willow: 1297 fps 10 shots (75 yds. 3fff 1.72 density)
    For some reason, my test (75-15-10) yesterday which averaged 1229 fps (only 3 shots) is out of ordinary. I'm not sure what the problem is. I know it is not the quality of the charcoal, and the other ingredients are from the same batches of all the other tests. Clumping in the mill may be a reason, and loss of lead into the batches could possibly be another. I had a 1/2 gram weight gain on one batch, after 8 hours. I'm fairly sure that was lead loss into the powder. Don't know how drastic that changes burn rates, but I'm going to change media and go with .58 caliber balls with tin in the lead.
    Last edited by DoubleBuck; 01-14-2022 at 08:08 PM.
    “Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.” – Yogi Berra

  7. #5267
    Boolit Buddy
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    AlMar;
    Yes, if he got 1288 with 80 grains of Goex, I've got that and better several times, with 60 grains. I'm going to check and see how high I can go, before losing accuracy.
    I tested the green meal and it seemed very good. No specks. I did have that in the first batch of Paulownia and didn't know what it was, but figured it out. I wetted it and screened it, dried it and pucked it and it didn't do that any more. I have since read or been told that is a sign of insufficient milling. I'll have to see if the fines I have left over from the 8 batches I made show KNO3 balls. Never thought about that.
    Last edited by DoubleBuck; 01-14-2022 at 08:14 PM.
    “Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.” – Yogi Berra

  8. #5268
    Boolit Buddy
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    It’s interesting that balsa produced a high velocity; it was one of the hotter charcoals listed by the fireworks folks.

  9. #5269
    Boolit Buddy
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    AlMar;
    If you can see these pictures, I think this is exactly what you were talking about? I built a tin foil box and put a half gram of the fines I had left over and this is the result. Actually quite clean, other than the Nitrate.
    I said I tested the green meal earlier and the lie detector test determined that was a lie. I actually tested some green meal I found, while I was working on your powder and went brain dead.
    Excellent call you made and I should have caught it, but had so little powder, I didn't want to waste any. It turns out it would not have been a waste. So, if it begins to clump when I re-mill it, I wonder what to do then? You think cutting back on the amount of media would help, with such small batches? I knew that there was something not right! I heated the powder to remove any moisture before I milled it, so I'm pretty sure that was not the problem.

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    “Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.” – Yogi Berra

  10. #5270
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by HWooldridge View Post
    It’s interesting that balsa produced a high velocity; it was one of the hotter charcoals listed by the fireworks folks.
    Balsa is amazing, if you can find it! I still have a chunk of it, and I'm nearly positive that I overcooked the first batch of charcoal. That stuff overcooks really easy. I'm going to cook more of it to the brown stage, and see if it is not as good as it gets.
    “Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.” – Yogi Berra

  11. #5271
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleBuck View Post
    AlMar;
    If you can see these pictures, I think this is exactly what you were talking about? I built a tin foil box and put a half gram of the fines I had left over and this is the result. Actually quite clean, other than the Nitrate.
    I said I tested the green meal earlier and the lie detector test determined that was a lie. I actually tested some green meal I found, while I was working on your powder and went brain dead.
    Excellent call you made and I should have caught it, but had so little powder, I didn't want to waste any. It turns out it would not have been a waste. So, if it begins to clump when I re-mill it, I wonder what to do then? You think cutting back on the amount of media would help, with such small batches? I knew that there was something not right! I heated the powder to remove any moisture before I milled it, so I'm pretty sure that was not the problem.

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    Yup thats not milled enough. Actually pretty bad buddy, thats what it looks like after an hour or 2 of milling on my end. With my new mill i get very little clumping. I think it could be because my mill is much more agressive now. This i what i would do, I would leave out the low sulphur batch and combine the other batches and mill again. This was milled for 12 hours? I use a piece of paper, when the milled powder is right it flashes fast and the paper is not ignited at all. There are no specs. I wonder if it would help to add larger chunks of lead in there to bang things up a bit. I think it might be hard to acheive with the HB mill but maybe not impossible.
    Last edited by almar; 01-14-2022 at 10:56 PM.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
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  12. #5272
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    AlMar;
    No they were all milled at least 8 hours though. I've never had the clumping problem before. The balls were coated, the corners were filled and the middle was just plastered with powder. I checked it on every batch several times, and would have to screen the balls, and scrape the inside of the jar, and start over. I figured it was either the type of charcoal, or too much media causing it.
    I have the two batches of 76-14-10 in the mill right now. I'll do the same with the other three, but not sure how this is going to work. I may have to mix a few grams more, of each batch, to have enough to test. I know my mill will do it, because it has for three years, but I've never had this problem. I'll just have to keep working at it and see how it goes.
    Edit: I decided to go against my thoughts and dumped all the media from both jars together. I'll rule out it being to small an amount first. I also mixed up 10 more grams of powder to go with it. Will mill it for an hour or so, and check it. Being finished powder, it should not clump at all, but we'll see. There's a hundred .60 cal. balls beating the hell out of it.
    Edit #2 100 lead balls in the jar didn't help at all. After two hours of checking every 30 minutes, and the powder pushed in the corners and clumped, I pulled 60 balls out and tried it with 40. Same problem, but not as bad. So, I brought the mill in the house where I could keep up with it, and every 15 minutes I beat the drum with a spoon, to loosen it up, and then shook the hell out of it. This is the hardest powder to mill, of any I have made, in five years It does not cooperate at all. If you plan to make it, you better have an aggressive mill, for sure. I have a total of over 13 hours of mill time on 45 grams of powder, which I also morter and pestled twice. I'm going to shoot it, but if it isn't substantially better than my old powder, I'm done with it. If it isn't fantastic, it ain't worth the trouble, is what I'm saying.
    Last edited by DoubleBuck; 01-15-2022 at 05:15 PM.
    “Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.” – Yogi Berra

  13. #5273
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    I've suddenly started having very exasperating problems with clumping too. Can't figure it out and it's driving me nuts. As you all probably know, I'm a proponent of milling very, very well. When this happens, you have no clue how long it actually milled properly. And it's such a PITA to clean out clumping and start over, (multiple times); then in the end you don't really know how long it milled well/what you've got!

    Dry ingredients, low humidity, mill jar half full of lead filled copper tubing media, three "trippers" in the jar, dead level mill, varying amounts of powder,----> yet bad clumping.

    :~(

    Any ideas?????

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  14. #5274
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    VettePilot;
    I've only had clumping one time, that I remember and it was from humidity. I dried the powder out and it worked beautiful. This powder has been dried, mortar pestled, milled, made into powder, screened to size, and stored a few days, and then dumped back in the mill, and immediately clumped up again. I've made several pounds (more than 10) with this mill and media, and this is my first clumping problem. It is highly frustrating, for sure.
    It has been raining here, and is snowing, right now. So, we have high humidity, but I put the powder in a pan, on the wood stove, and heated it up and it still immediately clumped. I'm clueless.
    “Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.” – Yogi Berra

  15. #5275
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    As I experimented with various woods and methods, at first I did not see much clumping even after a lot of hours of mill time. My mill was running a bit slow back then. I sped the mill speed up and my other methods of screening and preparing the ingredients had improved as well.

    I started seeing more and more clumping. I would stop the mill after a few hours and it would be clumping. So once every hour or so I would shake and slam the barrel around to bust up any clumping. But when finished with the milling it would still be clumped up. I have about come to the conclusion that this only shows that the powder has been sufficiently milled and the ingredients have been pulverized to perfection. At least I am hoping that is the reason.
    RICK
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  16. #5276
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
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    DB, i run my mill 9-12 hours and i dont have clumping until after 10 hours or so, im not sure what to tell you.
    Now i dont have milled powder right now, so i crushed up some 3f a little and put .5cc on a paper and an aluminum foil to show you what it does. The white traces is not potassium its scorched aluminum Maybe you can compare? I can understand that you are aggravated, and you seem to like the HF mill but it runs too slow for effective milling, its designed to be a small tumbler. With its jar ID and the ball size it should run about 90 RPM for a ball mill but it runs half that, the jar should be half filed with balls and 1/4 with powder with 1/4 left empty. People have studied this. Until you build one that does that, the performance of your powder will be limited by how easy the powder is to mill, not by how good the ingredients are. I almost feel like pulling my HF mill off the shelf in the barn to make a batch in order to demonstrate it.

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  17. #5277
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HamGunner View Post
    As I experimented with various woods and methods, at first I did not see much clumping even after a lot of hours of mill time. My mill was running a bit slow back then. I sped the mill speed up and my other methods of screening and preparing the ingredients had improved as well.

    I started seeing more and more clumping. I would stop the mill after a few hours and it would be clumping. So once every hour or so I would shake and slam the barrel around to bust up any clumping. But when finished with the milling it would still be clumped up. I have about come to the conclusion that this only shows that the powder has been sufficiently milled and the ingredients have been pulverized to perfection. At least I am hoping that is the reason.
    uhmmm...i beg to differ on this HamGunner, i think clumping is an obstacle not a sign. I used to get bad clumping after a couple of hours, i can tell you right now the powder was not ready by any means. Keeping the mill level, changing my media, jar and mill speed solved the problem for now.
    Last edited by almar; 01-15-2022 at 06:43 PM.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
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  18. #5278
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    My mill barrel is always level and the clumping is uniform throughout the whole barrel and not just on the sides. I am running my 15 lb. hexagon barrel at 40 rpm now and the clumping has started as soon as 4 hours or so. I have about 1/3 of the barrel full of lead ball. Originally I ran it at 20 rpm and it only clumped after about 8-10 hours. I might try splitting the difference and slowing my next batch down to 30 rpm and see how that goes. It might be a while before I do another batch, but the clumping seems to have to do with tumbling speed rather than time or ingredient make up.

    I know that my very first batch that I made had some Potassium Nitrate that was not fine enough and it's green meal burn test certainly had lots of burn spots through the paper due to a good many specks of unmilled Potassium Nitrate. But there was no clumping like there is now.
    RICK
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  19. #5279
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HamGunner View Post
    My mill barrel is always level and the clumping is uniform throughout the whole barrel and not just on the sides. I am running my 15 lb. hexagon barrel at 40 rpm now and the clumping has started as soon as 4 hours or so. I have about 1/3 of the barrel full of lead ball. Originally I ran it at 20 rpm and it only clumped after about 8-10 hours. I might try splitting the difference and slowing my next batch down to 30 rpm and see how that goes. It might be a while before I do another batch, but the clumping seems to have to do with tumbling speed rather than time or ingredient make up.

    I know that my very first batch that I made had some Potassium Nitrate that was not fine enough and it's green meal burn test certainly had lots of burn spots through the paper due to a good many specks of unmilled Potassium Nitrate. But there was no clumping like there is now.
    If you have a jar like mine Ham, and i think you do, try running it at 60 rpm but fill the jar half way with .57 high antimony balls. That is exactly what i do and i have no problems.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
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  20. #5280
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    I will see if I can find another larger pulley for my motor and give it a try.
    RICK
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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