Video, Making and screening Black Powder


August 14, 2012, 08:02 PM
I had made a video a few months ago explaining making black powder, it was suggested I make another video and actually make the stuff, so thats what I did, this covers mixing, grinding and screening Black powder followed by a burn test at the end. Give it a try its fun and inexpensive!

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August 14, 2012, 10:51 PM
nice job, looks like a winner !
what "grade" do you call it (FF, FFF, etc), what do you use for charcoal, and how good/bad is the average fouling durin' shootin' ?


Dan Carey
August 15, 2012, 01:21 AM
Both video's are very good.

August 15, 2012, 05:08 AM
Thanks guys! The 16 mesh will give you FFF, I use Black Willow charcoal and it is a bit dirtier than Pyrodex.

August 15, 2012, 07:56 AM
Thanks a lot, very informative in deed! Always enjoy your videos.

Jim, West PA
August 15, 2012, 10:14 AM
Now that right there is jist 'bout as cool as all git out. I never imagined it was that easy to roll yern own.
Where did ya order yer 'parts' from ?

August 15, 2012, 10:23 AM
This is one of many sites where it is available but I believe it to be the cheapest

August 15, 2012, 10:28 AM
Well...I've been saying I don't need a new hobby. But there's always room for one more, right? :)

Really great stuff! :)

Jim, West PA
August 15, 2012, 11:28 AM
This is one of many sites where it is available but I believe it to be the cheapest

thanx bh,'preciate the info.
I believe i'll give this go this winter.
Mmm..tho i 'spect it aint a fireside hobby :uhoh: lol

Do i want the anti or no anticake potassium ?

Oh, and do i want the 36,80, or air float charcoal ?

August 15, 2012, 01:28 PM
I've made several batches, one turned out horrible, but most work pretty good.

What is the purpose of the dextrin? I've never used it.

Jim, West PA
August 15, 2012, 02:12 PM
What is the purpose of the dextrin? I've never used it.

It's a binder Pulp.
Maybe not usin it is why yer batches jist"work pretty good". ?

August 15, 2012, 06:37 PM
I have done it without binder and it works, it just breaks down to fine powder with little handling. there are other binders .....but my professor tells me not to experiment he has done all that already! :).....ok boss!

August 15, 2012, 10:13 PM
brushhippie, good job!! I just made my second batch. the first batch was faster. I didnt use any binder on the first two batches. but this next one I will use 5% dextrin. the first batch was faster than Goex in my 58 Remington. about 100 fps faster!! I said,they aint nuttin to this!!. second batch was 100 fps slower.:mad:...Ill get back on track with the dextrin added I hope......frontloader

August 17, 2012, 10:13 PM
which chemical would you change the amount of to make it faster?

August 17, 2012, 11:16 PM
You cant change the mix, the only variable is the charcoal and Black Willow is very fast and readily available at many hobby chemical sites.
Very cool loader! Nothin to it man! Feels good dont it?.....castin too?

August 17, 2012, 11:30 PM
brushhippie, have you chronographed any loads in your pistols to compare with commercial powder?


August 18, 2012, 10:19 AM
No Roger I have not. Im just really getting the quality I was looking for, but I do plan to do so, I would like to know the numbers myself. The main reason I started making it was inability to get it locally and my unwillingness to pay a ridiculous hazmat fee.

August 18, 2012, 10:55 AM
I hear ya, brushhippie. I've only found one place in San Antonio that sells Goex and it's 23.00 a lb. plus tax.

I've been making it with farm grade KNO3 (which is pure potassium nitrate fertilizer), Wettable garden dusting sulfer(90% pure), and making my own charcoal.

Even pressing into pucks (20,000 lb. press) crumbling and screening, I'm still not getting the same density as Goex. By volume my powder weighs 4 or 5 grains less than Goex(for a normal pistol charge in my 1860).

In my 1860 Army, I'm getting 700 fps with my homemade and I get around 900 fps with Goex. If I used equivelent weight and not volume, I might be getting closer.

BTW my stuff is costing me around 1.00 a lb. to make. I figured up making it with ingredients from your supplier and with shipping it will still only cost under 3.50 a lb. to make (using my own charcoal). It my be worth a try to make some with lab grade materials and see if it makes a difference.

My best velocities was with grapevine charcoal. I cut some black willow. Gonna try it next.


August 18, 2012, 02:48 PM
yea in this form it must be weighed, or you can do like I do and fill the cylinder level full, (might be 15 grains?) in my .36 Remmies, they like em just fine. I need to get me a digiscale really, to know what the loads actually are.

August 19, 2012, 11:22 PM
Good Job on the videos brush hippie!

can you do aa favor and post the amounts of each chemical including the dexter

I failed to write it all down when I was watching the videos

or if you have a link to the the recipe of ingredients would be good too

I might have to give making my own black powder a try:D

August 19, 2012, 11:36 PM
75% KNO3 (potassium nitrate), 10% sulfur, 15% charcoal.I use 3% dextrin some people use 5%. All by weight not volume.

August 19, 2012, 11:38 PM
Thank you Sir, Sure, it is 75% KNO3 15% charcoal and 10% sulfur then add 5% of your total weight in dextrin. My mix for my little tumbler is in grams, 150,30 and 20 then 10 grams of dextrin.

August 19, 2012, 11:52 PM
Yes, I, too enjoyed the video. Especially the part where you lit some off. I love burning black powder.

BTW, I love the Ozarks. I've been through there a couple of times and ya'll sure have some beautiful country up there.


August 20, 2012, 12:01 AM
thanks guys I have this thread bookmarked for future refrence.;)

August 21, 2012, 04:12 PM
What do you use to store your homemade black powder? Can I use empty plastic Hodgdon canisters from pyrodex/smokeless powers (assuming of course all smokeless powder is cleaned out)?

I've seen various instructions for using water vs alcohol for wetting/balling the powder prior to screening, pros/cons of each?

August 21, 2012, 04:27 PM
I use containers saved from the kitchen trash mostly glass jars for storage (but plastic is fine too) I have used alcohol for screening and as far as I can tell its not an advantage, and as for the wet mixing I have not done this, the guy who taught me keeps telling me "I have done all the experimenting and this is the method I use, experimenting is a waste of materials!" so instead of trying other methods at this point Im trying to get to where I get the same powder every time. Like cooking, the more you do it the better you will get at it.

August 21, 2012, 05:54 PM
So I would imagine that "float" charcoal might not burn very fast?

August 21, 2012, 06:08 PM
The float is what Im using it is preground and extremely fine, the finer the better. If you make your own charcoal you want to grind it ahead of time till it is that fine. When the 6 hour grind is done the green powder is as fine as flour and it will float as well, you have to be careful opening your tumbler, you do not want to breathe that dust.
This is what I am using now.

August 22, 2012, 12:30 AM
This is what I am using now.
Hey Hippie
go ahead and throw out two more links for the other two ingredients
then we can make it just like your mix.
we will call it Brush Hippies mighty muzzleloading mix:D

August 22, 2012, 06:20 AM
The standard formula for BP (75-15-10) can be varied for faster or slower burn rates:
Increasing KnO3 and decreasing C normally burns faster and vice versa.
example: 77% KnO3 13% C 10% S
Binders like Dextrin or Red Gum do slow the burn rate down a little bit but many like to use it. The alternative is to make thin "pucks" by pressing the green mix in tubes under a lot of pressure then breaking them up and screening for various sizes. Misting the powder with a 50-50 mix of water and Isopropol alcohol prior to pressing helps a lot also. Mist the powder lightly and mix it and keep misting until it has the consistency of slightly damp beach sand.
A good burn rate test is to take a 2-inch parallel wound "cardboard" tube (such as a 1-pound rocket tube cut into smaller sections) then press either with an arbor press or hammer ram a 1-inch column of powder into the tube. Light with a fuse and measure how long it takes to burn completely with a stopwatch.
No matter how you press it into the tube just be sure to do it the same way every time.
Two of the most important aspects of pyrotechnics is to keep precise notes and to keep your work space clean!!!!!
Good luck...and be careful!!!!

August 22, 2012, 09:09 AM
Gunsmith, I got all three at that site. As I recall I bought all three for less than 12 or 13 bucks I think with shipping it was under 30.
I see they have gone up a little, still not bad.

August 22, 2012, 09:34 AM
That was interesting. Thanks.

August 22, 2012, 10:10 AM
Gunsmith, I got all three at that site. As I recall I bought all three for less than 12 or 13 bucks I think with shipping it was under 30.
I see they have gone up a little, still not bad.
Excellent Brudh Hippie
I guess the Dextern can pretty much be bought at any grocery store.

August 22, 2012, 11:23 AM
Sorry for needing the hand holding, but someone else asked this earlier and didn't see an answer. Your link to the KNO3 has both anticake and no-anticake varieties. I'm guessing we want the no-anticake? Just pure KNO3 without extra additives?

Already ordered some "black willow charcoal" from there (had to order separately from KNO3), which now isn't listed, guess I bought their last, but this was listed separately from their "air float charcoal". Hopefully will work ok. Is their airfloat charcoal made from willow? Doesn't seem to specifically say so on the site. In any case, if it's working for you, it should work for me!

And thanks for the input on storage and H2O vs EtOH, I'm all for following instructions of someone who's already put in the time and effort in experimentation.

August 22, 2012, 11:52 AM
Ive used the KNO3 both with and without the anticake and with it doesnt seem to pill up as much, (either will work) airfloat just means its ground very fine and yes what they carry is Black Willow. Dont mind the questions at all, Id like to see everybody that tries it succeed. Yes sir Dextrin is baked cornstarch, available at any grocery store.
Mike, my vids are not near as cool as yours but someday! You were my motivation, Thank you!

August 22, 2012, 11:53 AM
here is the recipe for brushhippies Mighty Magical Muzzleloading mix...
Mix together:
75% = 150 grams KNO3 (
15% = 30 Grams charcoal (
10% = 20Grams sulfur (
Tumble/grind for a minimum of 6 hours or longer.

After tumbling/grinding the mixture for atleast 6 hours add the binder/dexterin (AKA corn starch). Add 5% of the total weight of the powder mixture recipe which this recipe is a total weight of 200 grams so this recipe will require 10 grams of dexterin to be added to the mix then grind/tumble for an additional twenty minutes.

How to make Dexterin:
get a cookie sheet and spread the corn starch evenly across the cookie sheet and Bake in the oven at 400F for three hours.

after all four ingredients are all mixed together empty the tumbling container on a screen with a tray with news papers underneath to catch the powder
(do not breathe in any dust!) and sift the powder to separate the lead balls, replace the balls in the tumbling container.

once the powder is separated dump your powder onto the tray, use a credit card or bondo spreader to evenly mix in water to the consistency of damp sand so that it can be balled up into pucks.
but not so damp that when you squeeze it into a puck that you don't squeeze water out.
once the powder has reached the right consistency grab a hand full of the mix and squeeze it into a puck and rub it through the screen evenly on the tray
(#16 screen makes FFFgranuals), do the whole batch then allow the water to evaporate.
a tip to help the powder dry faster
before screening the powder place news papers over the tray this will help absorb the water out of the powder grains.

you now have a batch of brush hippies mighty magical muzzleloading mix

EDIT: to make your screen measure the outside dimensions of your tray then cut 4 pieces of 3/4"X4" lumber accordingly you will want to make the lumber slightly larger so that it will fit through the tray on two of the parallel pieces you will need to add 1 1/2" to the total length of the wood in order to nail the pieces together. then start by stapling one side of the screen to the wood frame pulling it snug as you staple then pull the other side snug and staple then staple the other two ends tightly.
does that sound right BH?

August 22, 2012, 12:44 PM
Sounds right to me, I used alcohol originally to make it dry faster, I have read since, that alcohol does not work as well as water. Dextrin is water soluble but alcohol does not react properly with it. I would go with water.

August 22, 2012, 01:01 PM
ok fixed it:)

August 24, 2012, 08:13 PM
Thank you Sir, never thought about puttin the recipe up here! duh

August 24, 2012, 08:29 PM
Hey BH
I saw another video on youtube where a guy was explaining how to make black powder and instead of using water he was using stale urine and his mix was the consistancey of bread dough it looked nasty.
I wonder what the purpose is for using stale piss and why he mixed so wet:confused:

August 24, 2012, 08:35 PM
Thank you Sir, never thought about puttin the recipe up here! duh
well I figured with your video instructions and a step by step recipe it would be even easier to make.
I think it is simple enough now that even I can pull it off LOL.

August 30, 2012, 04:56 PM

Thank you for all this good stuff!

All I need now is a kid's rock tumbler that has a plastic barrel.

I found those on fleabay, but does anyone have a better suggestion?

August 30, 2012, 05:40 PM
Got mine from china...oops sorry harbor freight about 40 bucks I believe, Good luck!

August 30, 2012, 05:51 PM
the harbor freight model is the one I am going to get.
they have a double drum model too.

August 30, 2012, 06:59 PM
The double drum idea is cool but it wont turn two double batches (200grams each) I have one my self, a single and a double, so not worth the extra money.

August 30, 2012, 07:40 PM
Thanks for the info BH, that's good to know.
I kind of like the one large drum better anyway
the double drum would probably be better for using it to polish two different types of metal parts and such.

November 30, 2012, 12:16 AM
Been meaning to post about the fruits of my labors and thanks to BrushHippie for setting me on the path towards making my own BP. Got the bug back in August when I first saw this thread, and quickly started accumulating the materials to make it happen. So far have made 2 batches using chemicals from Hobby Chemical Supply, including Black Willow Charcoal (was just listed as that, so thought it was the right stuff, wasn't their "Air float", so may not have been the best thing to get), the sulfur, and the KNO3 (No-anticake). My experience thus far......

So, before the thread got to the point of discouraging the HF double drum tumbler, I had already picked it up and started using it. For me, it's worked "fine" for both batches. I say "fine" because I do have some issues with my powder so far, but not sure that it has anything to do with the tumbler. My first batch, considering the manual lists 3 lbs as the limit for each drum, and the recipe makes 200 grams of powder, I subtracted 200 grams from 3 lbs, added that weight of lead .454 balls, and then the 200 gram recipe to each drum, which visually looked a little light on # of balls, but here it is running....

After I milled for 6 hours, I added dextrin, milled, wet, and screened. Looked good, definitely larger/fluffier granules than the 3F Pyrodex P I had (only BP/Sub I've ever used). And then went about trying to replicate BH's burn test to compare it to the Pyrodex.....

Was pretty encouraged, looked a tad slower than the Pyrodex, which looked slower than BH's homemade, but figured if it was at least similar to the Pyrodex which works fine in my pistols, it'd probably work too. Well, fast forward to range use......
Ya, not much of a bang, just kinda went ppppttthhh. Ball went about a half an inch into the barrel. Tried several more times with 21 and 30 grain spouts on my flask, and no bang bang.

So first batch looks to be pretty unusable as is. Can I just throw it back in the mill, let it go awhile and try it again? Or will already having added dextrin mess with the milling process?

November 30, 2012, 12:32 AM
So.... then on to my 2nd batch. This time, since I thought that the # of balls the first time around looked a little light, and the tumbler seemed to handle it just fine, I added some more balls to each drum the 2nd time around. In addition, I tumbled longer, maybe 8 or 9 hours. Again, wet, screened, and let dry. These granules were even bigger, and starting to look a little wormy, think I might have gotten it a little too wet. You also might notice I didn't say added dextrin, milled, wet, and screened. Ya, later in the day I realized that I had never added the dextrin. How much might that mess me up? Should I put it all back in the mill, add the dextrin, and rescreen? Not sure about that. Anyway, back to the burn test.... and fair warning, I talk too much, saying most of what I just typed, burning starts at 1:45....

So my 2nd batch definitely at least in open air burns a heck of a lot quicker. Maybe either from the longer milling, or the extra balls, or both. So shot that at the range too, actually the same day as I shot the 1st batch, and it worked well. Don't have a video of that, as after futzing around with the first batch and having to take down the revolver several times to clear the stuck ball, I was tired of video taping my failure. But very pleased to actually have a working homemade BP.

So again, thanks to BrushHippie for the guidance and peaking my curiosity to give this a go. And appreciate any input on what to do with my 2 batches that each have their issues, ie 1st doesn't work, and 2nd works but doesn't have dextrin. Considering remilling the first and see how it does. Remilling and screening the 2nd with dextrin. Throwing it all together, milling it longer and rescreening, to come up with a larger amount of usable powder that all act similarly. In any case, have enough chemicals for several more batches, so we'll see what I can do, and hopefully with experience, will be making my own Holy Black and getting away from my old plow horse Pyrodex!!

November 30, 2012, 06:49 AM
Very cool Jedi! Not sure what was up with the first batch, if it was still wet that would explain it, the second without dextrin looked like it was real fast! The dextrin is a binder so not having it in there wont really affect the burn rate that much, Ive done the same thing (more than once), Ive also gotten it too wet which makes it hard to deal with but once dry will still burn. Looks to me Sir that you are on your way congrats!! Ol fly says its just like cooking, the more you do it, the better you will get at it. Thanks for sharing your results and welcome to the club!
On a side note the double tumbler was a demo model I guess and the second batch I made in it broke the belt so that would explain my problems with it.

November 30, 2012, 12:22 PM
Thanks BH! The first batch was definitely dried out, made it a week or two before the 2nd batch, and didn't even shoot either of them until a couple weeks after I made the 2nd batch (making the first batch a month or so old), and had them stored with some homemade deessicant packs (silica gel cat litter in a coffee filter), so don't think moisture had anything to do with it. Best as I can figure, I just needed a longer mill, or more balls. Think I'll throw it back in the mill, regrind and screen it, and hope it's salvageable. Don't have anything to lose, it's not worth anything at this point. Guess I'll just leave the 2nd batch alone and shoot it as is without any dextrin, and hope to remember in the future! As for the HF double drum tumbler, we'll see how it holds up over time. It did at least come with four or 5 replacement belts, and I went ahead and sprung for the replacement policy, b/c I'm not that naive to trust in HF quality over the long haul!

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