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Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #7321
    Boolit Buddy Brimstone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HighUintas View Post
    I'm excited to see the shooting results of that southern red cedar powder that Brimstone had the fantastic assay numbers from!
    It's on the list of things to do. I am waiting for the heat index to drop. Gets way way too hot in that steel box to do anything.

  2. #7322
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swineherd View Post
    Thinking on trying human hair, cause why not?
    I'm sure that will smell terrible as you're cooking it. I wouldn't try that but I have had the idea to try different things.

    Junk mail came to mind.

  3. #7323
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    I’ve wondered whether some of the less desirable carbon sources could be jazzed up with the introduction of fine sawdust with higher volatiles. It could be that pulverized red cedar or balsa dust can be integrated into otherwise “dead” carbon to create an approximation of brown charcoal. A good sander with a fresh 36 grit belt will generate a pile of wood dust in a hurry.

    Just an idle thought…

  4. #7324
    Boolit Master
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    Be carefully if you want to Sand the wood to make sawdust to make into charcoal.
    Sanding stuff also drops in pieces of grit from the sanding paper.
    Not really that much.
    But it is in the sawdust.
    You get less chance of getting grit in your sawdust if you cut the wood with a saw.
    I do not make charcoal out of sawdust , or add it to try and bring my charcoal up to Brown Charcoal Dust.
    From what I have seen.
    The best charcoal is the solid lumps that are cooked.
    Then ground up.
    But it seems if you save the charcoal Dust in the charcoal maker.
    It just seems like the Ash is a little higher.
    If the lumps of charcoal still have the brown streaks in the lumps, when ground it should be considered more Brown Charcoal
    Last edited by LAGS; 09-18-2023 at 08:19 PM.

  5. #7325
    Boolit Bub Swineherd's Avatar
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    I'm actually more excited to try the creosote I scrape from my chimney than anything else. Unfortunately, I didn't think of it until well after I'd done the spring cleaning. Here in a few months I'm sure I'll have collected enough in there to harvest for experimentation. I'm not afraid of a little burning hair stink, it's not like I'll be doing this inside. Was only thinking of wool, hair and the like on account of the inherent oily "volatiles" they may contain.

  6. #7326
    Boolit Master
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    It occurs to me I must be a little strange
    Its fun reading all the experimentation and ideas here but that not my thing at all to actually do it!

    I got lucky early days, the third batch of stuff I made was really good powder - clean , consistent, maybe a tad whisker more energetic than my old GoEx. I was a happy camper - took my HM to some major shoots and came home with some bling for the sideboard.

    The jibby jab thing messed up our travelling more than a little so havent shot as much as we could have - that batch of good stuff is almost gone (maybe 4 kilos left) I looked at the last of it the other day, label says ---guess what ?? "Sporting Blackpowder - Ctg No2 - (FFg Equivalent) 1/08/2018"
    I have a decent stash of ground meal waiting processing from two years ago so time to move on that
    Have several gallons of charcoal ready for the next round or two.
    All I am after from here on in is to make stuff as good as that last lot (the second lot I made was ok too but we didnt puck any of it - all screened for front loaders)
    It was Fly's encouragement and info that got me pointed right at the start then a lot of little tweaks and wiggles around processing and equipment from all of you guys as we went along - eternally grateful for all of it - we will never need to buy a grain of blackpowder again.
    Last edited by indian joe; 09-18-2023 at 09:15 PM.

  7. #7327
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swineherd View Post
    I'm actually more excited to try the creosote I scrape from my chimney than anything else. Unfortunately, I didn't think of it until well after I'd done the spring cleaning. Here in a few months I'm sure I'll have collected enough in there to harvest for experimentation. I'm not afraid of a little burning hair stink, it's not like I'll be doing this inside. Was only thinking of wool, hair and the like on account of the inherent oily "volatiles" they may contain.
    hah !!! just threw about twenty pound of that stuff out in the yard a couple weeks ago - the wood we burn makes great blacksmith charcoal but you wouldnt even think about it for powder

    hair - wool - and feathers - ya gonna stink the whole district out - these are proteins tho - low carbon ???????

  8. #7328
    Boolit Bub Swineherd's Avatar
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    Almost gone at 4 kilos? That's a big batch!
    We're all carbon based lifeforms here, so feathers, hair, fur, skin... it's all fair game. Not that I'm expecting any one of those in particular to yield spectacular results. Trying to think a bit outside the box and maybe luck onto something new.

  9. #7329
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swineherd View Post
    Almost gone at 4 kilos? That's a big batch!
    We're all carbon based lifeforms here, so feathers, hair, fur, skin... it's all fair game. Not that I'm expecting any one of those in particular to yield spectacular results. Trying to think a bit outside the box and maybe luck onto something new.
    I had wondered myself if the creosote from a chimney would be a good additive to liven up some slower charcoal

  10. #7330
    Boolit Master
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    This is from 'Like Fire and Powder: Black Powder For The Modern Shooter' page 43.
    "My unsolicited, unscientific, personal theory: superior black powder is made from charcoal that still contains some tars and oils that have not been completely removed. This is especially true in terms of fowling. A "fully cooked" charcoal, that has been prepared at high temperature and has a very high percentage of carbon content, will not have any of the creosote or tars remaining (or very little), and while it will probably still work in gunpowder and give satisfactory velocities, it will be a "dry burning" powder. By using fairly low heat and stopping the carbonization a little earlier, the charcoal retains some of the creosote, oils, and tar that will leave softer, wet-looking fouling in the gun. This fouling is not hard and loading subsequent rounds will be easy and smooth. It is the mark of a truly excellent powder, perfectly suited for the military muzzleloading rifle-musket and the first generations of breechloading black powder cartridge rifles.
    He then goes on to say:
    Every conceivable method and variation of processes for making charcoal for gunpowder has been tried. Experimentation was done by all the Powers of Europe, and in the United States, for much of the 19th century. Numerous patents for devices and schemes for making better charcoal were issued by several governments. Plans for heating charcoal consistently with superheated steam were actually put into use in France. Charcoal made this way, at a fairly low temperature, had a reddish brown color and produced higher velocities.
    Quoting the general who wrote most of the powder proofs of Waltham Abbey Powderworks, for the Government of England :
    "Charcoal prepared between 500 and 600 Fahrenheit has a brown color (charbon roux) and although it is more easily inflamed than the black powder charcoal obtained at higher temperatures, its employment in gunpowder is not advantageous. The charbon roux is very hygroscopic." (I, myself have witnessed this, as well as the higher velocities)
    He goes on to finish:
    In spite of all the research and experiments, the proposed improvements and changes did not produce a gunpowder that was remarkably better than the original
    Experimenting is fun and has increased my homemade powder's quality; but, I'm with Indian Joe "All I am after from here on in is to make stuff as good as that last lot." Indeed; consistency is my primary goal, at this point. Consistent powder is accurate powder.

  11. #7331
    Boolit Bub Swineherd's Avatar
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    Yup, I'll definitely be playing with some creosote.

  12. #7332
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleBuck View Post
    This is from 'Like Fire and Powder: Black Powder For The Modern Shooter' page 43.
    "My unsolicited, unscientific, personal theory: superior black powder is made from charcoal that still contains some tars and oils that have not been completely removed. This is especially true in terms of fowling. A "fully cooked" charcoal, that has been prepared at high temperature and has a very high percentage of carbon content, will not have any of the creosote or tars remaining (or very little), and while it will probably still work in gunpowder and give satisfactory velocities, it will be a "dry burning" powder. By using fairly low heat and stopping the carbonization a little earlier, the charcoal retains some of the creosote, oils, and tar that will leave softer, wet-looking fouling in the gun. This fouling is not hard and loading subsequent rounds will be easy and smooth. It is the mark of a truly excellent powder, perfectly suited for the military muzzleloading rifle-musket and the first generations of breechloading black powder cartridge rifles.
    He then goes on to say:
    Every conceivable method and variation of processes for making charcoal for gunpowder has been tried. Experimentation was done by all the Powers of Europe, and in the United States, for much of the 19th century. Numerous patents for devices and schemes for making better charcoal were issued by several governments. Plans for heating charcoal consistently with superheated steam were actually put into use in France. Charcoal made this way, at a fairly low temperature, had a reddish brown color and produced higher velocities.
    Quoting the general who wrote most of the powder proofs of Waltham Abbey Powderworks, for the Government of England :
    "Charcoal prepared between 500 and 600 Fahrenheit has a brown color (charbon roux) and although it is more easily inflamed than the black powder charcoal obtained at higher temperatures, its employment in gunpowder is not advantageous. The charbon roux is very hygroscopic." (I, myself have witnessed this, as well as the higher velocities)
    He goes on to finish:
    In spite of all the research and experiments, the proposed improvements and changes did not produce a gunpowder that was remarkably better than the original
    Experimenting is fun and has increased my homemade powder's quality; but, I'm with Indian Joe "All I am after from here on in is to make stuff as good as that last lot." Indeed; consistency is my primary goal, at this point. Consistent powder is accurate powder.
    And we should all remember there is a point of diminishing returns, where you just won't get any higher velocity - because, well, it's black powder and that's the end of the story. As the author stated, all the major governments tried throwing money at it and abandoned the exercise when smokeless came along. We might create the perfect batch of BP at home but we won't get another 1000 fps out of our efforts.

  13. #7333
    Boolit Bub Swineherd's Avatar
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    Conventional wisdom dictates we leave blackpowder in the dust bin of history. I'm not about to start following conventional wisdom any time soon.

  14. #7334
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swineherd View Post
    Yup, I'll definitely be playing with some creosote.
    I wonder if you could add creosote to overcooked charcoal to an advantage.

    Tim
    Words are weapons sharper than knives - INXS

    The pen is mightier than the sword - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

    The tongue is mightier than the blade - Euripides

  15. #7335
    Boolit Master
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    dtknowles;
    I spent a couple of hours looking for the quote I read by Bill Knight on GOEX at one time in the 90's adding creosote to a powder they produced called CTG. I finally found it, on this forum actually.
    If you search this site, there is a thread named 'The Mad Monk Files'. If you pull up that thread, and scroll to post #12, from 09-15-2019; you can read the whole copied comment by Bill, from the files.
    The biggest positive to creosote, natural or added, is the fouling characteristic of being moist and easily able to shoot multiple shots without swabbing. With creosote, and with it removed with acetone washes; his tested powders had identical velocities. The biggest drawback is that it is very hygroscopic powder. GOEX's added creosote to high heat charcoal was from petroleum based creosote, not wood based. And it was a flop. But, that doesn't mean that if you use natural wood creosote, that it won't give you positive results. But, he flatly states that increased velocities will not be one of them.
    If you're not familiar with Bill Knight, he is the author of the Mad Monk Files and was a guru of commercial powder manufacture and marketing testing. He had many articles published on black powder and related subjects, from 35 years or so in the business. He knew black powder manufacturing inside and out. While being an avid shooter and end user, as well.

  16. #7336
    Boolit Bub Swineherd's Avatar
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    Big thanks for the reference to the Mad Monk Files, DoubleBuck. I can think of more than a few reasons a soft, wet fouling powder is worth the trouble to produce.

  17. #7337
    Boolit Master
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    Swineherd;
    You're welcome and if you search the net, you can find full copies of all the Mad Monk Files. It is some long reading, if you choose to read it all. But, he tells the histories of several companies in the modern era, as well as their policies, manufacturing procedures and even business dealings. This is a pretty good link to all of them, if you want to research his work further: https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/in...?topic=63465.0

  18. #7338
    Boolit Master
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    12 days ago, my wife's brother, his wife, their daughter and her 15 year old daughter came to visit and spend some time on the shooting range. Scarlet, the 15 year old, had asked me a couple of times about coming to visit and shoot one of my black powder rifles. I set her up on the table with a 50 CVA old inline I have with a PBR and 65 grains of homemade Tree of Heaven and homemade caps. She is right handed and right eye dominant, but felt she was more comfortable shooting left handed. I told her it was more important to be comfortable than correct. She missed the target on the first shot, from jitters. These are the next five she shot. I was impressed. Raised in the city until two years ago (a liberal one at that), she's taking to rural Oklahoma and rednecks pretty well. haha Her school has archery and shooting sports both supported and she did well with three rifles and a pistol. She asked if she could come back and do it again. And wants to watch and learn how to make BP. I think we have a keeper.
    Last edited by DoubleBuck; 09-21-2023 at 05:53 PM.

  19. #7339
    Boolit Man
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    Way to go!!! This is the exposure that most kids need instead of the video games. Good on ya!

  20. #7340
    Boolit Master
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    That is great.
    I love it when people promote shooting sports to their family.

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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