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Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #3901
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    2,209
    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleBuck View Post
    I think your point is probably what Goex was saying when under 'Composition' they said By weight, 8-18% charcoal. 9-20% Sulfur and 70-75% KNO3. I bet your density thoughts are just what that is saying. That is, or seems to me to be, a very wide variance on all three chemicals, for some reason. 10% on charcoal, 11% on Sulfur and 5% on Nitrate. I nominate you, to do the experimenting. lol
    Not me ! I work on the aint broke dont fix it principle - but I am gonna do sea monkeys' idea of maintaining pressure for longer, and see if we gain a bit of density.
    Had had those thoughts about charcoal density before but I have ample supply of willow just out my back door - it works - I like it - end of story.
    what might be interesting is experimenting with sulphur content - supposedly that is what controls ignition temperature and need it to make a flintlock work - might be we could reduce that for cartridge guns? Less stink - more power? - and its the expensive component of the mix.............................................

  2. #3902
    Boolit Man
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    Oct 2020
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    Quote Originally Posted by indian joe View Post
    Not me ! I work on the aint broke dont fix it principle - but I am gonna do sea monkeys' idea of maintaining pressure for longer, and see if we gain a bit of density.
    Had had those thoughts about charcoal density before but I have ample supply of willow just out my back door - it works - I like it - end of story.
    what might be interesting is experimenting with sulphur content - supposedly that is what controls ignition temperature and need it to make a flintlock work - might be we could reduce that for cartridge guns? Less stink - more power? - and its the expensive component of the mix.............................................
    Joe, you should be able to get Sulfur very reasonable. Duda Diesel sells 10 pounds >99.5% pure Sulfur, for $11.38, before shipping. Walmart sells 5 pounds of the exact Duda product, for $17.64. That equates to about $.35 cents per pound of finished powder.
    I'm with you, on the longer wait time, on the pucks. I think I'm going to try a couple dry again, too, with a long wait time and see what they do.
    Last edited by DoubleBuck; 05-27-2021 at 03:51 PM.

  3. #3903
    Boolit Master
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    For what it's worth on experimenting with the pressing. As I recall, it was considered important to periodically release the pressure, and then re-apply. Not sure why, but it would be easy to include in the experimentation. (Sorry, can't provide a citation---> in that lost data of mine...)

    All this interesting speculation has me wanting to change my current project timeline, and get back to playing with BP!!

    Vettepilot
    Last edited by Vettepilot; 05-27-2021 at 04:36 PM.
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  4. #3904
    Boolit Master
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    Feb 2018
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    Lake Havasu City, Arizona!
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    Just a little side note here. We don't want to scare off newbies with unnecessary complexity. The simple processes here DO WORK, as shown by hard data from posters to whom we are grateful. Whether doing screened powder or pressed, one can do it and enjoy success with the simplest of processes such as throwing a paint can of even remotely suitable wood in a campfire, grinding the 3 components together, and then either screening or pressing the powder.

    Otherwise, it's just the tinkers and curious among us here that like to experiment, and hence the talk of finding the very best wood, exploring charring temps, playing with formulas and methods, pressing techniques, etc., etc. This is all unnecessary to just go ahead and make imminently useful powder for shooting. It's just a curse us tinkers live with---> we can't leave "good enough" alone and are driven to research, study, and experiment.

    So don't be intimidated by our ongoing speculation and experimentation. Just make ya up some powder and go shootin'!! As Indian Joe is fond of saying, "If it works don't fix it!"

    ;~)

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

  5. #3905
    Speaking of speculation.. I've been speculating that binder might be beneficial after all... if just a little water does something to "activate" the ingredients and make them bind better, maybe just a touch of bider could also make the batch bind better. Not to increase density, but maybe to get fewer fines from the grinding process? Maybe give up a small ammount of power to get less reprocessing of the fines?

  6. #3906
    As far as dwell time... I've noticed that it seems when my pucks are done, they are done. I'll put the initial squeeze on them and the pressure will back off within a couple of minutes. Then it will back off again one or two times over the next 20-30 minutes. After that, it remains steady - even overnight. Letting off and redoing the pressure would be easy to try.

  7. #3907
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paramax55 View Post
    Speaking of speculation.. I've been speculating that binder might be beneficial after all... if just a little water does something to "activate" the ingredients and make them bind better, maybe just a touch of bider could also make the batch bind better. Not to increase density, but maybe to get fewer fines from the grinding process? Maybe give up a small ammount of power to get less reprocessing of the fines?
    Hmmm... That's an interesting theory, with the only downside being that binders slow the burn rate. I don't think it would take much though. One per cent?? Then there's whether to use Dextrin, Red Gum, Acacia Gum, or SGRS (Rice Starch.)

    Man! This experimentation could turn into a full time job!!

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

  8. #3908
    Boolit Master
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    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  9. #3909
    Boolit Master
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    Sorry. Accidental double post.
    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  10. #3910
    Boolit Man
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    Northwest Arkansas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vettepilot View Post
    For what it's worth on experimenting with the pressing. As I recall, it was considered important to periodically release the pressure, and then re-apply. Not sure why, but it would be easy to include in the experimentation. (Sorry, can't provide a citation---> in that lost data of mine...)

    All this interesting speculation has me wanting to change my current project timeline, and get back to playing with BP!!

    Vettepilot
    That's what I recall, as well. And, don't remember why. Which, releasing pressure is something I've done on several pucks, too. For no particular reason, but sometimes I'll cycle them from zero to 20, two or three times in two or three minutes. BUT, I'm usually tired and ready to get the pressing done and am not, or have not been, too high on letting them set. I'm going to definitely give that a try, but will have to make a couple to compare against that and then try to decipher the results. I really hope the time deal is bogus. haha Or that more pressure is king and overrides time. ha

  11. #3911
    Boolit Man
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    Oct 2020
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    Northwest Arkansas
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    To anyone new to this medieval Black Art, I agree with VettePilot. If you keep it simple, you will make the best Powder, known to man.
    Meanwhile, there are a few points you can take from this thread, to ponder on.
    1) You can bake your charcoal, deep fry it, or cook it on an open fire. All three make the best powder. Or, you can use retort or an updraft system. They both make the best powder, that we know of.
    2)You can use any one of 3,672 woods or natural products. They all make the best black powder. While very light, low density wood makes the best powder, very dark, dense and slow growing woods will make the best powder, you can make.
    3)You can use water, but distilled water makes the best powder, or you can use Alcohol and no water or water and alcohol, as it makes the better powder.
    4) If you want the best powder you can make, you want to use Stump Remover from Wal-Mart. But if you want to make the best powder ever made, use lab grade KNO3. It just costs a dollar to go first class.
    5) All the best powder is milled for 72 hours, but if you want to make it even better, mill it for four and have it certified Kosher.
    6) If you want to make the best powder you can make, wet it, screen it and let it dry. But if you want to top your best, press it for four hours dry or 37 seconds wet, with a four million pound press. Either way makes your best powder.
    7) To make the best powder, you can use five different ways to bust your pucks, and anything from free screens, to the $200 variety. Both ways are the best and will give you the most reliable and fastest, greatest lift; while retaining cleanliness.
    8) Drying your powder and storage are keys to making your best powder. You can dry it one of only two ways. Hair dryer, stove, open pit fire, dehydrator, and slow cooker. Only these two ways will give you the best results.
    Storing your powder, again, can only be done in one of two ways. Cans, bottles, vacuum packed bags, tin cans, five gallon cans, used coffee cans or three thousand dollar canning machines. But only these two ways will yield the best results.
    If you're short on humor and long on patience, you will make your best powder.
    I'm doing all I can to help, in both areas. Buck

  12. #3912
    Doublebuck - true words.

    As far as a binder slowing burn rate... if you were to use only 1% ot so, I'm not imagining that it would make a huge difference. I gave some 38 sp and 357 mag rounds to a friend (I only have a 38). He said he loaded 38 and 357, every other in the cylinder, and he couldn't feel any difference. He didn't chrono them, but the volume difference was a 22 case's worth of powder. That's more than 1%, so I'm thinking that binder wouldn't be an issue. I need to make some more powder this week and I have some red gum. I hope to give it a try.

  13. #3913
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Posts
    16
    Quote from Paramax55:

    As far as dwell time... I've noticed that it seems when my pucks are done, they are done.

    I'll put the initial squeeze on them and the pressure will back off within a couple of minutes.

    Then it will back off again one or two times over the next 20-30 minutes. After that, it remains steady - even overnight.

    Letting off and redoing the pressure would be easy to try.
    This, in just a few words, explains the process very nicely.

    Once the under pressure powder has settled into its most compact state it will not press any further.

    It just takes a few minutes at each stage of pressure to reach the desired end result.

  14. #3914
    Boolit Master
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    May 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleBuck View Post
    That's what I recall, as well. And, don't remember why. Which, releasing pressure is something I've done on several pucks, too. For no particular reason, but sometimes I'll cycle them from zero to 20, two or three times in two or three minutes. BUT, I'm usually tired and ready to get the pressing done and am not, or have not been, too high on letting them set. I'm going to definitely give that a try, but will have to make a couple to compare against that and then try to decipher the results. I really hope the time deal is bogus. haha Or that more pressure is king and overrides time. ha
    and heres me thought the change in pressure was just my 40 year old truck jack leaking back through a worn out O ring !!!

  15. #3915
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    2,209
    Quote Originally Posted by Vettepilot View Post
    Just a little side note here. We don't want to scare off newbies with unnecessary complexity. The simple processes here DO WORK, as shown by hard data from posters to whom we are grateful. Whether doing screened powder or pressed, one can do it and enjoy success with the simplest of processes such as throwing a paint can of even remotely suitable wood in a campfire, grinding the 3 components together, and then either screening or pressing the powder.

    Otherwise, it's just the tinkers and curious among us here that like to experiment, and hence the talk of finding the very best wood, exploring charring temps, playing with formulas and methods, pressing techniques, etc., etc. This is all unnecessary to just go ahead and make imminently useful powder for shooting. It's just a curse us tinkers live with---> we can't leave "good enough" alone and are driven to research, study, and experiment.

    So don't be intimidated by our ongoing speculation and experimentation. Just make ya up some powder and go shootin'!! As Indian Joe is fond of saying, "If it works don't fix it!"

    ;~)

    Vettepilot
    I think I disagree with you
    plenty of info what charcoal makes good clean fast powder = willow, tree of heaven, paulonia, buckthorn alder, red cedar, there are others.....
    and what makes crappy dirty powder = hardwoods in general, barbeque charcoal, ... so why not do some reading and start out with something will give a decent result? easy for me there was willows out the window - but I also had a couple bags of hardwood charcoal already cooked for my blacksmith forge - chose not to use that because what I read here said its a dumb idea.

    ditto sulphur - I went in the ag supply looking and they offered fungicide sulphur - ten percent clay - not interested - garden shop has 99% pure - just up the street

    we dont see stump remover but greenhouse grade KNO3 is good stuff, soluble is easier to use than prilled but no big deal either way

    Binders - read a lot of stuff there and eventually conclude dextrin was the go - (redgum needs alcohol - a different process.) I cooked dextrin in the kitchen oven - couple bucks of corn starch on a tray - instructions are out there for it. Simple really.

    This is a simple process yes but makes no sense to start it with what we know are second rate materials - not talkin lab grade here just decent stuff. Nothing beats success like success - do some reading. If you wanna short the reading just follow Fly's posts through and ignore the rest.

  16. #3916
    Indian Joe - Vette Pilot is right in a sense and you are right in a sense. If someone is looking to make their first batch, any materials you can get your hands on will make something that goes "bang" and will "set the hook." I have seen posts here by many who suffer from paralysis by analysis and have never made a first batch. I was starting down that same path until I decided I just needed to make something and see what happens. I made some graded powder, and put it in some firecrackers. It went "bang," made smoke, and I giggled. I made a couple more and they were just as much fun. I made a couple more amd took them to my neighbor's house and we both giggled. I made dies, started pressing, and never looked back. The hook was set.

    Any KNO3 and charcoal and sulfur will make something that is fun. Even if it's just to impress the grandkids, I'd say start with a batch using whatever you can get your hands on. The progression to the better stuff will be natural.

  17. #3917
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Posts
    205
    Yup, keep it the simplest if you need to and you can have serviceable BP!

    Some folks consider success as having a powder that will make their ball hit a target. Some want to have commercial grade or better powder. I think the key is for the beginner I know there's many ways to skin this cat!

    I made my first BP by taking the test charcoal I made from cedar bedding chips, grinding some horribly inaccurate amounts of kno3 and sulfur and charcoal together in a small bowl just to show my kids how awesome it is. It was so slow burning I watched the trail go up and the sulfur was choking haha. But I was hooked! And for some reason my kids didn't get too excited. I guess they're not quite firebugs like me.

    I need to buy my lifetime supply of kno3 and sulfur in the next year to make sure I have it in case it ever becomes hard or impossible to get.

  18. #3918
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
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    Here's my powder on paper burn test I did a couple of weeks ago just to see cleanliness and speed. Something interesting to note is the yellow halo around my homemade burn. I wonder if that is from the leftover volatiles in my charcoal since I cooked it at a pretty low temp. It was a much darker yellow but seems to have faded a bit over the weeks. I think it left about the same amount of black fouling as my OE

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's the OE. Important to note it wasn't the same weight of powder. There much was less OE on this paper and that's why it looks like there's less black fouling left.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's my grinding progress chicken scratch notes. This is my first couple sessions with pucks that weren't as hard and just figuring out the best grinding method. Top to bottom is the progression.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's the most recent. Decently hard pucks, broken up with wirecutters first. The too left shows the initial weight of my pucks going into the dehydrator. They lost 2-4g of water over 48 hours, depending on puck weight. The grinds are at the top... 2 very coarse grinds on the same setting, then 11 grinds on progressively finer settings. Then there's the final yield. I'll be testing this powder against my OE tomorrow over the Chrono!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by HighUintas; 05-28-2021 at 11:07 AM.

  19. #3919
    Boolit Man
    Join Date
    Oct 2020
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    10 shots 278 grain .58 cal. PRB's, 75 yards. Sassafras powder, 60 grains. 1384 FPS average. Deviation 33 FPS. Rifle sighted for 100 yards. Point of aim dead center. 3 inch bullseye. The target I made from an old yard swing and some used cutting edges off my dozer.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #3920
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
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    Nice shooting!! What kind of sight is on your rifle?

    Here's the link I mentioned:
    https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a150455.pdf

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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