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Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #6001
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    2,645
    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleBuck View Post
    Guys, now I've got a question or three. Has anyone else tried cooking Brown charcoal? I'm wondering if charcoal cooked at a low temperature (550-<600f) do you still use the smoke to determine thorough cooking, or is time the only concern? Do you have to remove it, cool it and check the wood, (like I did) or what would be the factor you're looking for to determine when it is done?
    I cooked some last fall and it turned out pretty good, but I had to check it two times to see if it was done. That means cooling the retort down so it won't ignite the coal and then check it for done, and if it's not (mine wasn't) heat it back to cook temp and cook it awhile longer.
    As I said, my charcoal came out good, but that I got from Almar was not really black at all but more golden brown. And, the tests I did on it told me that it was really good.
    Just to be clear, I've always cooked my charcoal on an open or semi open fire in my wood stove, or homemade bbq pit/smoker. I cook it until the vent lights and watch for it to die off to a small flame. The English at Waltham Abbey watched for the vent flame to have a 'violet' color; which I have seen, but did not that day. It was in the daylight outside and I didn't ever notice the violet flame. As it was my first time, I was unsure of how far to go.
    I'm thinking maybe I need to just do it at night, so the flame color is more noticeable.
    Just wondering if anyone else had experience making good brown charcoal, and what indicators you use, or if others had to just wing it like I did. I'm going to cook a new batch up soon, and would like to be more confident of my ability to pull it at that golden brown, but fully cooked point.
    All input is appreciated.
    I have done brownish
    A bloke that used to win most of the firelighting comps at primitive shoots showed me how he made charcloth one time and thats the logic I followed.
    He used a smallish tin maybe half pint size, single nailhole in the lid about 2mm (max) - soon as smoke started from the vent hole he sez now dont take yr eyes off that smoke for a second - we watched it build up then the instant the volume of smoke stopped increasing he hooked the tin out - "dont want to cook the guts out of it"
    I use large cans if I can -- 1 gallon paint cans, a couple of ten litre ones, got a 20 litre with a clip on lid is favourite, bigger vent holes but same idea as the charcloth - dont light the smoke and soon as it steadies even a little haul it out - some will be black but most of it will be brownish and some not done - my test for done is if I can snap a stick and it breaks clean is good - whats not done enough to grind goes back for a re cook later - I put it through a big old hand meat mincer (outside please - charcoal dust in yr lungs is not good !) then I ball mill it and stash away for later in sealed plastic containers.

    This works best in the cold weather - if it gets too hot and the cans dont cool pretty quick the contents will preignite and burn to ash in the can - so I am outside on a cold day and if there is a few inches of damp green grass helps cool it out. Couple inches of snow to drop em in would be good but we dont ever see it here.
    Last edited by indian joe; Today at 10:35 AM.

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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
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GC Gas Check