A question for those who make their own BP.


July 12, 2008, 01:17 PM
Do you mill your ingredients separately and then combine them, or combine them before milling?

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July 12, 2008, 01:38 PM
I don't make BP, but one of the methods doesn't involve any milling at all but rather mixing the ingredients with liquids to form a wet paste.

See "Cheap Tricks" at the bottom of this page:


Regarding the mixing procedure when milling, it says to:

Process - mix the ingredients by weight (75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal, 10% sulphur), ball mill with lead balls for at least 24 hours, dampen, screen, and dry.

July 12, 2008, 07:38 PM
Just finished making 8 oz. of BP. I did the search on this site and read all the posts at least twice and some three times. I used the accepted prescription of 75% KNO3 (Saltpetre) 15% charcoal and 10% Sulfur. I made my own charcoal out of willow, as I haven't a clue what an Alder tree is or where I could find one. The sulfur and the KNO3 came from the drug store and were ground pretty fine already. I put the charcoal in an electric coffee grinder. It made a real fine powder real quick. I then put all three into a 13 oz clean plastic coffee can along with 5 .58 cal round balls and closed the lid. I shook this container for about 20 minutes or until I figured out that I had enough fun. lol.. I then emptied the container into an 8" diameter plastic pipe cap. I poured a mix of 2/3 water and 1/3 70% alcohol into the cap and mixed until it made a real thick paste. I set it in the sun to dry in a flat container, spreading it out evenly. Once it was somewhat dry, I broke it into pieces and screened it through a large tea strainer. I then allowed it to dry completly. It is not as dark as Goex, but lites off just about as fast. I am gonna try some in my .50 cal tomorrow. I'll post back with how it works.

When you are up to your neck in alligators, it is hard to remember that your original intent was to drain the swamp.... Bobby :)

July 12, 2008, 07:56 PM
So it's considered safe to mill everything together as long as there's nothing sparking involved?

I can't wait to try this...but I'm not sure if i can get the ingredients locally. I could probably find saltpeter at the garden store but I doubt I could find sulfur and I would probably have to buy charcoal at the store...do stores carry plain charred wood, without additives?

oh also, does anyone have an opinion on the ball mill from harbor freight (the cheap one)?

July 12, 2008, 08:05 PM
I looked at the ball mill from Harbor Freight... They have 2. one is a single tumbler the other is a double tumbler... Both look cheaply made. The single one was only 23 or 24 dollars. I opted to make mine as above with out the milling.

As for charcoal, look in the outdoor cooking section of the stores. I remember seeing a plastic bag of charcoal that looked like pieces of sticks. Don't know what kind of wood, but it might work. I made mine with willow and it was easy. But you may not be able to build an outside fire where you live. Let us know how ya get r done... Bobby. :)

July 12, 2008, 08:15 PM
I mill the sulfur and charcoal together first. then add the potasium nitrate. makes it a bit finner and easier for the batch to mix. As far as sparks you need to add some lead balls to the mill. about 8-9 .50cal size balls should do. look up how to make black powder in the search function of this section. there are some big write ups on this. we had some big discussions back in january. there are a bunch of us that make our own.

July 12, 2008, 08:53 PM
I use real charcoaled wood for grilling that I've read is okay to make BP.
It's labeled as 100% all natural hardwood lump charcoal. The brand that I buy is called "Cowboy Brand".
It's not easy to find, only a couple of smaller stores in my area sell it but some larger stores may sell other brands just like it seasonally.
The charcoal itself is made up of several types of wood. Some pieces are really hard wood that are shaped as if they came from a woodshop or that sells their scap oak board pieces.
Other pieces are much softer & lighter wood pieces which break up much easier by hand.
Once you become familiar with the characteristics of the different pieces, you could easily separate them by type and try each of them separately for potency.
You can also send away for charcoal or willow wood, but this stuff is sold in 9 lb. and 20 lb. bags fairly inexpensively. You can always BBQ with it too! :D

July 12, 2008, 08:58 PM
From what I've been told, lump wood charcoal has clay binders too....I'd avoid that, just a mess and silicates can't be good in a bore.
The CIA ( wet mix method ) is simple, but the powder is never as good as a good ball mill can make. Good pure chems and Willow or Alder charcoal, milled for 3-5 hours in a good mill, will make better powder than most commercial consumer grades.
And yes, it's safe to mill dry BP chems. Only a spark or flame can ignite BP, it's not notably pressure, shock or static sensitive and it has a moderately high ignition point, so it's one of the safest "explosives" (if you call it that) to work with. I'd check the old threads on this, we discussed it extensively back in the winter.

July 12, 2008, 09:08 PM
Where's the clay binder in 100% natural lump charcoal?
You can actually see the original grain and texture of every single piece of charcoaled wood. Lump charcoal is not the same as the standard charcoal briquettes. This lump charcoal ignites really fast and burns very hot.
It's hardwood that's been charcoaled in Tennessee.
Maybe you're thinking about the lesser quality, pressure formed briquettes like Kingston's which aren't 100% unadulterated wood?

July 12, 2008, 11:13 PM
I was wondering the other day if maybe some 1" dowel rods would make good charcoal. Sure would be simpler than cutting up, splitting, and debarking willow. I remember reading cedar makes good charcoal, and I think dowel rods are made of some type of cedar.

Like JCT says, I don't think you can beat a ball mill. Mine is a Lortrone brand rock tumbler that I bought at an auction. I make 2000 grain batches, could make more, but I don't have a decent scale. I use my RCBS powder scale which only weighs to 500 grains, and the pan won't hold but around 250 grains of KNO3.

July 13, 2008, 12:03 AM
if you do it, be sure you are careful and do it in small quantity.

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