Lee PrecisionRepackboxMidSouth Shooters SupplyRotoMetals2
ADvertise hereTitan ReloadingReloading UKInline Fabrication

Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #4721
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona!
    Posts
    789
    And a major fire was started, among many other accidents with "gender reveal" stunts.

    Let me tell you... when you work with the general public in some fashion, and are exposed to a lot of people, you truly start wondering how the heck the world keeps going 'round!!

    And the things the idiots do on YouTube!! Totally clueless! Common sense ain't so common...

    We don't need those people making powder. There's no stopping the government infringements--> we need to keep our heads down!

    Safety police!!

    Ok, ok, I'll quit...

    ;~)

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

  2. #4722
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona!
    Posts
    789
    Ha! Another forum I lurked through reading about black powder... in that one, if you even Whisper "homemade powder", you're expelled!!

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

  3. #4723
    Boolit Buddy



    HamGunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Ozark, Missouri
    Posts
    243
    I charred up a small batch of Sassafras wood this evening in my 20 Lb. Lee casting furnace retort made up with a can inside a can that is placed down on top of about one lb. of melted lead inside the furnace. Three small flat lava rocks hold the inner can up off the bottom of the outer can just a tad. Lead casting thermometer placed through a tight fitting hole in the upper can lid down into the middle of the wood. Does not do a whole lot of charcoal at once, but then I shoot small calibers and they are not as hungry as the big bores.

    Anyway, I kept the temperature well below 600 degrees, at least the center of the wood. The outer edges might have gotten a bit hotter, but I gradually got the temperature up, so not likely that the outer wood over roasted much. The temperature wanted to start climbing eventually after the smoke really turned loose, but I kept the thing regulated so that it did not surge past 600 degrees. Not quite as reddish colored as the Black Willow though. More of a dark brown chocolate color.

    Sassafras gave me the exact same ash level as the Carolina Buckthorn at 2.6% ash. Sounds promising so far.

    I did manage to shoot a few rounds of the Carolina Buckthorn powder yesterday, comparing it to my Black Willow. Same volume measure gave Black Willow 21 grains and the Carolina Buckthorn only 19 grains so the same weight of powder placed in the cylinders of my 1851 .36 cal. showed a good difference in the two powders volume. Normal charge of Black Willow gives just enough room for one of my home made greased felt wads and the ball seated flush with the cylinder throat. The Carolina Buckthorn powder of the same charge weight filled the cylinders so I had to crush the powder a bit when seating the ball.

    Black Willow gave 650 fps with good accuracy. Carolina Buckthorn gave a bit less at 615 fps., but still with decent accuracy. I imagine the reduction in velocity might have been because of the over compressed powder, so although not as dense, I am not ready just yet to give up on the Carolina Buckthorn as a useful charcoal wood. The compression into pucks seemed to be about normal, but somehow the density came out a bit less.

    I will get the Sassafras worked up soon and make another comparison shoot. I can hope for a better showing with the Sassafras. If so, that stuff grows along about every fence row in this part of the State or on any land that has not been brush hogged for a few years. And best of all, I can stay out of the ticks when I go cut some.
    RICK
    NRA Benefactor Life Member/VFW Life Member

  4. #4724
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    294
    Thank you for the report Hamgunner. I found a few carolina buckthorns here but they were so small i don't think i would have made much with them. Glad you did the test. Did you check the puck density by any chance? I suppose that the buckthorn pucks might have less density given that the finished powder was less dense, at least that seems logical to me. I recently discovered with my tests (accidentally) that density is a huge factor that affects powder performance. Although, less dense gave me better velocity...
    Last edited by almar; 10-22-2021 at 06:21 AM.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  5. #4725
    Boolit Buddy



    HamGunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Ozark, Missouri
    Posts
    243
    I did not do any density tests. Actually I have no clue exactly how to do it. I suppose it involves measuring the amount (distance) the powder compresses?

    Anyway, I did not shoot a lesser volume amount of the Carolina Buckthorn so that it would properly fit into the cylinder of the chamber without excess compression as I forgot to bring any of it along to my shooting area other than what I had already loaded in the revolver. I suspect I would have gotten a bit higher velocity result with an uncompressed load as that seems to be the norm with my loading experiences with Black Powder. Over compressed loads seem to give less velocity. I did get a very good extreme spread with the Carolina Buckthorn and the standard deviation was about as low as anything I have ever shot. I have the Chrony model with the wired remote readout so it was right there beside me and I watched the velocity of each shot and the chronograph did register each one separately, but the readings were just a couple of fps different from each shot. Had me wondering if the chronograph was in error, but it was an overcast day and my Chrony seems to work really well, without shade screens, looking up at a gray sky. Accuracy was not extra remarkable, but certainly not what I would consider bad by any means. I plan on doing more tests. I will bring all my different powders next time.

    I bought the Chrony with the remote readout after a stray gas check took out the screen of my last unit. I actually shot the one I had before that one. Was working up a load with my Mini-14 .223 and got interrupted in my testing and it was strung out over several months. I had decided to change scopes and then by the time I resumed testing, I had forgotten that the scope needed sighting in. Scored a direct bulleseye on the Chrony with the first shot. Now I guess they are out of business, but I am happy with the one I have. It only gives errors if the lighting is too bright or too dim.
    Last edited by HamGunner; 10-22-2021 at 01:07 PM.
    RICK
    NRA Benefactor Life Member/VFW Life Member

  6. #4726
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    294
    The density of the pucks is the amount of weight you have for a specific volume of the puck, typically should be close to 1.7 grams per cubic centimeter. If you divide the weight in grams by the volume of the puck in cubic centimeters you get the density.

    This is the way i understand it: When you get that puck very dense and break them up into grains they contain more particles of BP than grains from a less dense puck, therefore each grain consumes itself slower.
    If you take a given weight of dense grains and put it next to the same weight of less dense grains, the dense powder takes up less volume. This is because the same amount of milled powder is spread across a larger number of grains, so more surface area.

    The greater the total amount of surface area exposed to flame the faster the entire charge will burn. And since that bullet is moving and increasing the volume of the burn chamber as it does, if the powder doesn’t burn fast enough, it will not reach optimal pressure.

    However what I’m pointing out is that even though your willow was denser, it still shot faster.

    As I read it, the dense powder is particularly favorable for blasting whereas a less dense powder is favorable for use in small arms where a quick impulse is more important than the build up of gases.

    The downside of less density or hardness is that the grains will tend to wear more easily and make dust over time if moved around a lot.
    Last edited by almar; 10-22-2021 at 01:53 PM.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  7. #4727
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona!
    Posts
    789
    Here's how I would test densities in your case Almar. I realize you're getting a bit tired of all this, but you're on the cusp of possibly making the best homemade black powder ever made! And repeatably!! And you're almost done!

    I think you are pretty close to having optimized the recipe, the charcoal etc. Dialing in density is the only thing left, right? Again, this is just how I would do it...

    Make up a batch of your very best green meal. Then do a detailed, multi-step compression routine. Start at what you would guess would give you a density of say, 1.55 g/cc, in reasonable test steps all the way up to 2 g/cc.

    So that it's repeatable, record how you got there. What jack pressure, how long exactly, how many times re-pressurized, at what time point, etc. Also record what relative humidity, and/or exactly how much water you add.

    Then, keeping each puck separate and labeled, --> bust, grind, and grade each sample. Lastly, re-weigh the bulk density, record it for reference, and go have fun shooting it all and recording the results.

    You've done outstanding work and you're really close to wrapping it all up. You've got this!!

    Vettepilot
    Last edited by Vettepilot; 10-22-2021 at 03:16 PM.
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  8. #4728
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    294
    Hi vette, the routine I use is now to obtain a density I believe is substantially better than using the pressure and time alone, in fact I strongly suggest it to anyone. The amount of pressure applied and time is dependent on the amount of moisture content. The spring effect of a drier powder is greater than a powder with a certain amount of moisture therefore the amount of time required for a given pressure will vary. There is a substantial amount of variables to control. When I compressed my best batch, it was very dry and therefore I obtained an unusually low density puck, this is what started me to question density and performance and how they relate. I initially thought that the more amount of powder you can condense into the grains the better it will be, it just isn't so. The method I use now is much better because there are no variables. You control the density.

    1) I measure the final volume desired that will give the puck thickness I want. I note where the piston has to be. Notice the red mark.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20211018_172505.jpg 
Views:	9 
Size:	31.9 KB 
ID:	290681



    2) I calculate the weight of powder that will give me the desired density for the target volume.

    3) I add the amount of powder to the piston and apply pressure. I still use a pressure gauge so I can add when it drops and to monitor the compression but it is not required. All you have to do is wait till the mark is reached. You should be at the target density. It works for me.

    The game I need to play here is like you said, figure out the best density for my given powder that will give me durable grains, consistency and acceptable power and fouling.

    I just recently received a gift to myself in the mail and its a Howell cartridge conversion for my 1858 Remington in 45 colt. I think its going to open up a new dimension for testing. I may have to order a mold from accurate molds for a hollow base and machine a punch for it in order to expand a .452 to the .454 bore of the uberties though. I'm not tired at all.
    Last edited by almar; 10-22-2021 at 06:15 PM.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  9. #4729
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona!
    Posts
    789
    Oh man!!! I've been wanting to buy myself one of those for a long time but just can't make myself "get off the money". I'm jealous...

    :~(

    I think we're secretly brothers you and I; it often shocks me how much we think alike.

    Ok, well you're ahead of me on the compression, and as always, great thinking.

    You'll get there.

    Vettepilot
    PS. I mentioned you maybe getting worn out because you mentioned all the number crunching "taking the fun out of it". No harm intended...
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  10. #4730
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    294
    Haha true. Similar minded people often find themselves in the same places.

    Didnt think about getting brass...hard to find. Ill go by the indoor range tomorrow to see if i can get some.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  11. #4731
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona!
    Posts
    789
    Yeah, every time I'm just about to "pull the trigger" on getting one of those conversions, I stop and think, "No, then I'll need brass, bullets, dies, molds, etc." I've got all that for every single other caliber I own. It's a lot of stock, and no small expense!

    So, the Alder works, but not as good as Black Willow, nor the Red Cedar chips. It might be as energetic; hard to tell just from a burn test, but it's clearly a bit dirtier. One of the commercial powder companies uses Alder I believe. Is it Goex? I wonder why they use it?

    Anyway, I've now got some for when I manage to go out and chrono test, in both 2f and 3f.

    Vettepilot

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

  12. #4732
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    2,318
    Quote Originally Posted by almar View Post
    The density of the pucks is the amount of weight you have for a specific volume of the puck, typically should be close to 1.7 grams per cubic centimeter. If you divide the weight in grams by the volume of the puck in cubic centimeters you get the density.

    This is the way i understand it: When you get that puck very dense and break them up into grains they contain more particles of BP than grains from a less dense puck, therefore each grain consumes itself slower.
    If you take a given weight of dense grains and put it next to the same weight of less dense grains, the dense powder takes up less volume. This is because the same amount of milled powder is spread across a larger number of grains, so more surface area.

    The greater the total amount of surface area exposed to flame the faster the entire charge will burn. And since that bullet is moving and increasing the volume of the burn chamber as it does, if the powder doesn’t burn fast enough, it will not reach optimal pressure.

    However what I’m pointing out is that even though your willow was denser, it still shot faster.

    As I read it, the dense powder is particularly favorable for blasting whereas a less dense powder is favorable for use in small arms where a quick impulse is more important than the build up of gases.

    The downside of less density or hardness is that the grains will tend to wear more easily and make dust over time if moved around a lot.
    FWIW (opinion ) .... Blasting powder comes in large grains - the stuff I used in bygone days was about 3/8" gravel size - that was for a post hole gun that had a one inch bore and powder chamber about 8 inches long. The larger grain size slows burn rate much more so than any perceived change in density - doesnt mean the coarse stuff has any less potential power, it just needs to be more forcefully enclosed to get to its maximum. Same works to a degree with small arms blackpowder I believe, long barrel, big heavy boolit Fg or FFg (slower burn rate) gets it done best - shorter barrel, lighter boolit, or patched ball = FFFg for sure.

    Regards clean burn or otherwise ? for me comes down to how many shots can I fire before accuracy is affected - much and all as it is FUN - all the open air tests under the sun wont get me that answer - might point the way some and it is fun but the gun barrel is the test that counts. This I also believe changes with load - a "dirty" powder will burn cleaner if its a strong charge under a heavy boolit than that same powder in a light load or with a round ball over it

    just opinion developed from shooting - I got me no proof for any of this ..........................................

  13. #4733
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    294
    Its true that grain size is a big factor but our grain size is consistent, not the density. The question is how does that affect our powder.

    In a quick attempt to test it out, I loaded three rounds of 45 colt with 30 grains per volume of three powders under a 220 grain bullet, the exact same case was used in the same chamber every time. (I only have one 45 colt brass case for now haha)

    First powder was swiss FFFG with a typical 30 grains of weight per 30 grains volume velocity 912 fps.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Swiss 30gr 1 shot.jpg 
Views:	3 
Size:	44.2 KB 
ID:	290715


    Second powder was my 30-60 mesh powder but 77 13 -10 this time of brown willow (not my fastest batch) but this one has a density of 1.40 g/cc and 24.2 gr/30 gr volume velocity was 882 fps.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Low density 1 shot.jpg 
Views:	6 
Size:	47.2 KB 
ID:	290716

    Third powder was the same as the second but with a 1.82 g/cc with 30.58 gr/30 volume, velocity was 918 fps,

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	High density 1 shot.jpg 
Views:	3 
Size:	45.6 KB 
ID:	290717


    If you can base the efficiency on velocity per grain (weight) since the bullet weight is the same:

    swiss : 30.4
    2nd: 36.4
    3rd: 30.02

    Now obviously this isn't a full blown large scale conclusive test with several shots and several bullets weights and barrel lengths, but I think it gives a birds eye view of the effect of density on efficiency and fouling.


    edit: not a 220 grain bullet, this was a 230gr RN that I typically use for 45 ACP
    Last edited by almar; 10-23-2021 at 10:05 PM.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  14. #4734
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    294
    now one thing I forgot to mention however, the 1.4 g/cc is not satisfactory for grain strength, they hold together much better than screened but nothing compared to the 1.82 g/cc or swiss grains. There must be a proper balance in there and I have a gut feeling that its between 1.65 and 1.7 g/cc.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  15. #4735
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona!
    Posts
    789
    Indian Joe told me a good while back that our homemade powder would shoot a good bit cleaner than commercial powder, and I've found it's indeed true. Just still don't know why...

    I've never used Swiss powder though, and am mildly surprised to see it verified there as well.

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

  16. #4736
    Boolit Buddy almar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    294
    Quote Originally Posted by indian joe View Post
    you have me confused - in my world grains is WEIGHT - was your second load 30 grains weight ? . I tested several years ago and so long as the initial components were same (taken from same batch of meal) there was negligible velocity difference in brass case loads caused by density so long as charge weight was the same - even to the extent that screened powder held same (squeezing the equal weight charge of screened into the case was "interesting") some of this was surprising
    No all were by VOLUME, measured in the powder measure, all at the same 30 gr mark. I measured their weight also with that amount and that's what I put there.
    I personally was not surprised at all, it answers a lot of the frustrating results that I couldn't answer before. I was darn near quitting this altogether at one point. I press a powder one day, get great results then press the same powder the next day and get way off results with the same measures by weight. This answers it and i'm at peace, Its also what these people discovered way back when at Waltham abbey, they have a whole chapter dedicated to it.
    Last edited by almar; 10-23-2021 at 10:06 PM.
    “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

  17. #4737
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    2,318
    Quote Originally Posted by almar View Post
    No all were by VOLUME, measured in the powder measure, all at the same 30 gr mark. I measured their weight also with that amount and that's what I put there.
    I personally was not surprised at all, it answers a lot of the frustrating results that I couldn't answer before. I was darn near quitting this altogether at one point. I press a powder one day, get great results then press the same powder the next day and get way off results with the same measures by weight. This answers it and i'm at peace, Its also what these people discovered way back when at Waltham abbey, they have a whole chapter dedicated to it.
    FWIW forget volume in your testing - weigh each charge - 30 grains by weight, then you at least are comparing apples to apples. By the way did anybody happen to notice your velocity is right there alongside swiss per grain weight. and it looks a cleaner burn - I think I would call that a win !!!!!

  18. #4738
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    115
    Over at the Muzzleloading Forums, user sealgaire has posted this:
    A chemistry professor at West Point has published her research on black powder used in 14th and 15th century bombards. There is a non-technical article in today's New York Times at

    www.nytimes.com
    This Chemist’s Pandemic Hobby? Firing Medieval Cannonballs.
    Gunpowder used in cannons helped change the nature of warfare, but it took a while to get the recipe just right.
    www.nytimes.com www.nytimes.com

    Dr. Riegner's technical report in the Amer. Chemical Society journal Omega can be found at

    https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acsomega.1c03380#

    Enjoy
    t
    This article covers recipes from the early period of bombards and tests them chemically. Still to read all the way through myself but so far its very good info.

  19. #4739
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    115
    Frustration: it's such dirty work. Can't pop into the workshop, cycle the press for a few pucks plus maybe weigh some charcoal without getting clothes changed, peeling off gloves and a major laugh session when the family spot the raccoon emerging, blinking in the daylight.

  20. #4740
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    115
    Someone asked where the most dangerous moments are in making your own.
    My views on safety:
    1) Bad housekeeping - allowing buildups of dust to remain - is the single worst risk.

    2) Airborne dust. If a mill leaks, and the motor fan blows mill dust into the air, is a time of maximum danger. Remotely turn the power off and leave it alone for hours. When the mill finishes a run I power it off and leave it for a while before opening the barrel; heat and static can dissipate. When I tip out the barrel into the media screen and bucket I do it outside, with full face protection, and try to minimise rising dust. I immediately mist in moisture for pucking and mix it through the meal. The dust is now partly suppressed. Close the container and put it away.

    3) After each job, brush and vacuum up all spillage, all dust, all floor sand, all drill press shavings, all sawdust, all misplaced scraps of flannelette from cleaning, all offcuts of stuff.

    4) Chain reaction. Store amounts of product, commercial powders, and intermediate materials like meal or pucks, labelled in the proper containers, locked in a wooden container suitable for Class 1.1C dangerous goods, away from work areas and work in progress.

    5) Sources of ignition must be controlled. Poof tests. Soldering, lead casting, steelworking. Electrical switches in dusty conditions. Candles or smoking. Testing flintlocks. Electric motors in appliances if flammable dust gets in, are dangerous. Use none of these if dusty powder or mixed pyro materials bigger than a tiny test amount are open or even closed but in the same room.

Page 237 of 251 FirstFirst ... 137187227228229230231232233234235236237238239240241242243244245246247 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
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