making black powder


March 19, 2011, 05:00 PM
anybody here make their own? i have been doing it for years and i have used it in not only guns but in cannons, firecrackers, even rockets. i figure that making blackpowder is cheaper than buying it if you buy all your ingredients cheap or even make you own softwood charcoal. in California finding real black powder is like finding a condom dispenser in a church bathroom. however i can find potassium nitrate really cheap, i make my own softwood charcoal, and i get my sulfur for free. my blackpowder has been tested and it burns incredibly well. i have found it can be made in the kitchen with some basic chemicals and tools. :evil:

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March 19, 2011, 09:27 PM
Which softwood do you use, and where do you buy your saltpeter and sulfur?
I've made a small batch with drug store saltpeter and sulfur, with charcoal I made from tulip poplar and white pine. It burned well, but not as fast as commercial. It would be great for longrifles and fowling pieces.
I don't know yet if my burn rate was hampered by one or more of my ingredients, or if it was the method I used for making it. I used a mortar and pestle to grind my saltpeter. I used a rock tumbler to grind the charcoal.
I think I need to put more lead balls in the tumbler and mill the charcoal longer.
I wanted to get a 2 drum tumbler from Harbor Freight, but the price has over doubled in the last 5 years.

Be forewarned, there are some grannies here who will warn you against making it and insist that you will kill yourself doing so. They will cite the safety protocols used by commercial powder mills and the accidents those makers have had. What they do not take into account is the fact that there is a different level of care taken when you are making it for yourself as opposed to someone who is doing it as a daily grind. There is a level of complacency that affects folks on the job that won't affect a hobbyist who understands the risks and safety measures.

I haven't had time to make any in a few years. It's easier, though much more expensive to order it from Powder Inc. I have too many irons in the fire and the poudre noir has fallen by the wayside.

I'd like to see someone experiment with white and red powder in their smokepoles and I'd also like to see someone experiment with ammonpulver for their cartridge arms.
Nevermind the ammonpulver. I found some info from people who've made it. The fact that it degrades at temps of around 90 degrees F is still the main problem. IIRC, the AN crystallizes and it can detonate and blow up yer boomstick. Big problem. If that could be overcome, it would be a great replacement for smokeless and BP. It burns with no smoke and little to no flash.Of course, you'd have to clean your smokeless gun like it was a BP gun. Otherwise it would rust up since AP is hygroscopic.

March 19, 2011, 10:21 PM
this site shows some promise for chenical supplies.


March 19, 2011, 10:42 PM
There's a Back Powder Essentials sticky at the top of the Blackpowder Shooting page that contains an extensive thread about Making Black Powder:

March 20, 2011, 02:10 AM
Busyhands94, I've been doing small lots over the past six months or so... I guess you would call my process an abbreviated precipitate method. Ball-mill the charcoal and sulfur together, then mix in water equal to 1-1/2 times the weight of the charcoal-sulfur mix. Heat the "soup" until it starts bubbling, and then stir in the potassium nitrate. Pour the sludge onto a plate, let it dry, crumble it up. Works great.

Recently I learned how to make potassium nitrate from ammonium nitrate and potassium chloride, and I learned how to make my own willow charcoal (put short lengths of willow branches into a Lee melting pot, put a lid on top, let it cook on max temperature for two hours).

March 20, 2011, 10:23 AM
Y'all making your own black powder rule! :)

Carl N. Brown
March 20, 2011, 10:41 AM
Commercial mills made large batches at a time and accidents were serious.

I believe the Foxfire books detailed mountain manufacture of BP once.

Perfect BP would be where the molecules of potassium nitrate would be adjacent an atom of carbon and an atom of sulfur. Starting with drugstore saltpeter, sulfur and home kilned charcoal, getting mixed that fine takes a lot of mixing.

(The best I ever did was suitable for smoke bombs for use with model tanks and toy dinosaurs to recreate scenes from Godzilla, kinda like the stuff they made on Mythbusters trying to recreate a scene from Star Trek.)

Carl N. Brown
March 20, 2011, 10:54 AM
BP (KNO3, S and C, few impurities, maybe a dusting of graphite to prevent clumping) is perhaps the most stable of all gun powders when stored under half-way reasonable conditions of temperature and humidity.

Sodium nitrate powder and ammonium nitrate are for mixing today for blasting rocks tomorrow, not for loading guns or cartridges.

March 20, 2011, 02:52 PM
You can use sodium nitrate as a substitute for potassium nitrate, but it's more hygroscopic. Ammonpulver was developed as a propellant, not an explosive. The problems with it are how hygroscopic it is, and the fact that it breaks down and becomes unstable/explosive at temps above about 90 F. It would be a great fall/winter/spring propellant.
I have read something about sodium nitrate explosives. I don't know how they're made, since I have NO interest in explosives. If I need a stump removed, I'll dig it up, burn it out, or get it ground.

March 20, 2011, 03:18 PM
back when commercial powder mills were more common you probably had guys smoking cigarettes and chucking their smoldering butts into empty (or so they though) barrels. besides, i never had a problem with sensitivity, i have been using sensitive chemicals in my globe torpedoes for years and i never had a problem. that is because i am incredibly safety conscientious about explosive chemicals. when i am making black powder i do so away from anything that could potentially catch fire, i found that if you grind your potassium nitrate in a coffee grinder, then place it in a separate container taking care to remove all of it, and then grind your charcoal, and mix the two in a jar with some lead balls. you will have very good black powder. very fast burning. that is the method i have found works best for me, however there is always a better method out there.

March 20, 2011, 05:23 PM
Although I use Triple Seven3fff (have a damn good supply to) I do make a few ounces (3 to 5 usually) about every 9 or 10 months just because I get bored and to keep my hand in so to speak. I do shoot a couple of balls out of every batch I make, usually out of a Uberti Colt Pocket .31..The best I can tell it shoot's pretty damn good. I alway's pour the rest of the batch on the ground, run a small short fuse and 'POOF!' it away..I buy my ingredients. Well, don't buy much anymore. I'vd got it stockpiled; buried in some containers made of plastic like material that is supposed to be able to stay buried under ground for 300 years without damage to the contents. Oh I'm a good law abiding American; it's just that sometimes I think my government may not care much about my rights as an American..I use Potassium Nitrate, Flour Sulfur, and Charcoal Float. My screens and ball mills and barrels (tumblers) were ordered online. My lead media is I THINK .56 caliber although I mix a small handful of .451's in with them. Make's it grind quicker. I also use a little rubbing alcohol which seem's to help it dry faster. (the drying faster part might be my imagination)..Scrat, who started the 'Walker Club' on here taught me how to make it through his posts. I fine tuned it a little to suit myself but he is the one who taught me....PS. sitting here thinking. Had to correct this post where I originally stated I made 4 to 7 ounces maybe once a year. I know damn well I have never made a full 7 ounces at one time. Usually around 3 or 4 and maybe sometimes 5. Don't burn it all up either. Sometimes if an indian friend of mine need's it (he make's his own. won't give me the recipe but it burn's hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hell) I'll hold it for him, just most of the time I burn it up. I have a good fireproof locking box I could keep it in but I don't bother....

March 20, 2011, 11:40 PM
What does homemade BP cost per lb in comparison to the 20-25 dollar per lb price of factory BP?

March 21, 2011, 01:50 AM
i can buy a pound of potassium nitrate for only $5 as stump remover, i make my own pine charcoal, and i get my sulfur for free. so given that i get more than a pound of powder for only 5 bucks it is very economical.

March 21, 2011, 11:29 PM
I've been making my own for a couple of years now, after reading about it here. I don't make large batches, about 2000 grains/batch. It's easy to do the math on a 2000 grain batch, and I need all the easy math I can get.:D

Mine seems to be dirtier than commercial, and the fouling is harder to remove, especially in rifle. The first batch I chronographed was with a brass framed .44 Navy Knockoff. Because my powder is much less dense than commercial I just filled the chambers level then seated the bullets. I can easily compress the bullet down way past the end of the cylinder. Can't do that with commercial. Anyway, can you say 1050fps? I was really surprised at that number. Needless to say, I don't use full chambers in that brass framed revolver anymore.

For the most part I use my homemade in cap and ball now, and commercial for cartridge. Although with BigLube bullets it would probably be OK in rifle too.

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