Potassium Nitrate/ Sugar as substitute for Black Powder

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Snidely70431, Apr 12, 2018.

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  1. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    While looking for something else I came across an interesting article about firing undersized projectiles designed for cartridge arms out of a muzzleloader using sabots and/or paper patches. The idea was to test the performance of the projectiles at terminal velocities, but I'm sure muzzleloader enthusiasts will find other inspiration from the article. This is a link to the article:
    https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0812/0812.4934.pdf

    Within the article was a section that posed the idea of using a mixture of 65% potassium nitrate and 35% table sugar as a propellant. The article stated that such a mixture is already used as a propellant in model rocketry. I wonder if anyone has tried such a formulation in a black powder rifle.

    This is the relevant section:
    In early 2009, we will be testing thepotential to use powders based on a mixture of
    sugar and potassium nitrate.

    This combination has often been suggested as a black powder
    substitute, and a blend (by weight) of 65% KNO3 and 35%
    sucrose (table sugar) is widely used instead of black powder in
    model rocketry. It is slightly less energetic than black powder,
    and has a lower dependence of burn rate on pressure, suggesting
    smooth, gradual changes of muzzle velocity with powder charge.
    We plan to test a mixture of 65% KNO3 and 35% sucrose
    blended in a coffee grinder, and compare performance with the
    addition of 2% red iron oxide as a catalyst. We expect smoother
    performance at lower charges, easier cleanup, and less foul smell
    than black powder and substitutes. Interested readers may
    contact us for preliminary results.
     
  2. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Well "rocket candy" was a well known rocket fuel in the United States when model rocketry was in its birth as a hobby. Estes pretty much wiped rocket-candy out with over-the-counter model rocket engines, here and in Europe. Except for custom model rockets...here is a massive Saturn V model using R-candy fuel



    IF, however, you're an Israeli, the rockets fired into Jewish settlements carrying deadly payloads are fueled by "rocket candy" rocket motors. :confused: Rocket-candy, though, requires the sugar to be melted and the potassium nitrate mixed into the "candy" and then poured into the rocket motor.

    As for using it with muzzleloading rifles, it has already been done. It was an old DIY solution to small game caplock rifles during the Great Depression, and I have read an article where the author's grandmother when younger, would make a small batch of the stuff to load a .32 caplock up for rabbits. (iirc) It works fine with small calibers, such as .32, and .36...., but doesn't do well with calibers of .45 and larger, because in the rifle it is in granular form. I don't know why this would be a factor...:scrutiny: Perhaps the burn rate is so slow that a heavier projectile is influenced by minute movements of the rifle by the shooter as the ball accelerates at a slow rate, while the shorter barreled and lighter projectile in the small game rifle meant the projectile got enough MV to do the job, and exited soon enough to be held on target ???

    Now it's also possible that the old attempt at using it for rifle powder was with poor quality salt-peter (it was, afterall, during the Great Depression), and also poor quality iron oxide. It's also possible that the powder if it was first made into r-candy, and then ground into tiny bits, it might work better than the components in a very powdery state mixed and then loaded into the muzzle loader.

    LD
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  3. damoc

    damoc Member

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    Tried it tears ago but it seemed to leave a lot of sticky residue plenty of power however also less sure ignition.
     
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  4. whughett

    whughett Member

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    What is the Triple7 powder formula? Did I read somewhere it is sugar based as opposed to charcoal.
     
  5. kBob

    kBob Member

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    There was an article in one of the annuals years ago that did some work with ground up vitamin C tablets as a component. It was much like one of the yellow subs of the 1980s or so. it involved baking the powder in Mom's oven, well not MY Mom's.

    I was told that the original Pyrodex was made from reclaimed artillery increment charges mixed with "you figure it out" added to the mix. Burning the left over bags of charges was the neatest job a young artillery officer had. During WWII the Germans recycled left over charges into an explosive called Nipolit, a hard plastic that was close to 1 to 1 for TNT.

    If that is hard to understand......semi fixed and separate charged Artillery has variable charges. Each round is supplied with a max load......think +P+. The charge is in pre measured cloth bags and labeled or numbered. Because an artillery tube has a limited life and because you want to be able to use indict fire you limit the charge of each fire round to just what will get it where it needs to go. You there fore remove a charge bag....an increment....or more from the case or stack to get the charge you want. That which is removed is trash, but too dangerous to leave laying about. It is transported somewhere safe and laid out on the ground with bags touching but not over lapping and one end of the line of bags lit on fire. The duty officer then certifies that all the bags and contents are burned and checks to see he has not started a wild fire.

    Given the success of a number of folks on THR with traditional reciepees, one wonders why one would try anything else.

    -kBob
     
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  6. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    I'm sure there are any number of things that have been done before of which I have not heard. When I hear about them I like to share them, get feedback. For instance, I had not heard that the Palestinians were using KNO3+ sugar to fuel their rockets. Interesting.
     
  7. drobs

    drobs Member

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    Youtube before it went all anti-gun had some great black powder making videos. Looks like they took most of them down.
    Cody's lab had a video on making BP the old fashioned way - with Urine. It's gone.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu6mSoMNzHQiBIOCkHUa2Aw

    There were a ton of other homemade powders on youtube most look to be gone.

    Liveleak has the BP Video:
     
  8. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    Foxfire Book 5 has excellent sections on blacksmithing, rifle making, and black powder making. :) YouTube hasn't figured out how to delete printed material yet.
     
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  9. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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  10. ofitg

    ofitg Member

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  11. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    The story about grandma making powder was in the Backwoodsman magazine several years ago. She used the dirt from the chicken run to remove the potasium nitrate, added sugar and iron rust. The gun was a .38 caliber. It was called "making granma's black powder".

    When using urine to make nitrate it is urea nitrate.

    We used to but PN from the drug store and used 6 spoons of PN to 2 spoons of suger and SLOWLEY heated it in a sauce pan. When melted and blended pour out small dollops on a piece of aluminum foil to cool. Remove the pucks and light the corner. They make great smoke bombs.

    One of the kids got his just a little too hot and set off a double batch on his mothers stove. He was out of the smoke bomb making business soon after that.
     
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