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This is going to sound weird but...

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Brutuskend, Nov 13, 2020.

  1. Brutuskend

    Brutuskend Member

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    I am in the process of making some black powder. It is in the tumbler right now and as I understand, once it is good and mixed, ground, you should wet it with water and alcohol and make it into a paste, then dry it and shift it.

    Well it is kinda cold and wet here right now. So I started thinking about the best way to dry it out. I thought, if I leave it outside, it may freeze. Then I started wondering what effect freezing may have on it. Then I started thinking about my freezer and how it seemed to draw the moisture out of things I left in there for quite some time, and wondered if I could dry it out that way. That got me wondering about freeze drying.

    So...
    Has anyone ever tried freeze drying black powder? From my research, it looks like freeze drying leaves micoscopic pours in whatever has been freeze dried. Seems like that may even help the powder to burn better/ faster.

    Has any other mad scientist tried this out there, or tried freezing away the moisture in the freezer? From what I have read, most people say that putting it in the freezer would attract moisture rather than dispelling it. Still, not all freezers are created equal.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Please don't blow yourself up.
     
  3. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    I know tons of folks who make their own powder and we have a great loooong 159 page forum post on it on the castboolits forum. The method you speak of will give you ok working black powder...but this will become an addiction on creating the best. Fyi the charcoal you use will make or break your powder. What charcoal are you using? I personally corn my powder...the green meal is pressed into a puck using a die and 20 ton jack. The thin puck is then broken into pieces and from there ground into grain size. I use no water or alcohol and pucking and corning method will give you the best powder all things being equal. Here's the link to the best sticky on making black powder on the net period..set aside some time because its loooong. Take notes too. Lots of great info and testing done

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?103852-My-homemade-black-powder
     
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  4. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    Oh and i wouldnt freeze it...the trick is to get all moisture out of the powder. Freezing will trap moisture in it.
     
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  5. whughett

    whughett Member

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    I think freeze drying entails vacuum also, or partial vacuum. So unless you got a freezer hooked up to a giant vacuum pump.........;)
     
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  6. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    OK, you asked for my thoughts.

    My thoughts are, do not attempt to make your own Black Powder. Perhaps in your reading you may have read that powder mills had an unfortunate habit of blowing up and killing everyone inside. Even the pros have accidents. The last explosion at Goex was in 2004, there have been something like four explosions at Goex since 1973 and 10 people have been killed. On top of that, if you blow up your house and happen to survive, your homeowner's insurance will most certainly not cover your loss. As an aside, my Dad spent WWII as a foreman making bazooka rocket fuel for Hercules Powder Company in Lawrence Kansas. Not BP, but still an explosive. The buildings were arranged with a blow out wall facing out onto the prairie. One of the operations used a hydraulic press to force the moist rocket fuel through a steel plate with a hole in it to form it into sticks about 4" in diameter. One day something went wrong, the building exploded and everyone inside was killed. They found the steel plate about 1/2 mile away across the prairie. Another incident: in 1903 an explosion at the United States Cartridge Company in Lowell, MASS, near where I live, destroyed 70 nearby homes and killed 22 employees and residents. These are not isolated incidents, powder mills blew up all the time, and these are/were the professionals who knew what they were doing. Modern explosives factories are built with berms around the buildings so that if something goes wrong, the force of the explosion will be directed upward. What type of berm have you built around your house?

    Yeah, I know there are guys on this forum who make their own powder, but those are my thoughts.

    Everything I am about to say is for information purposes only and I take no responsibility if you, your neighbors, your relatives, or your heirs are injured or killed, and I take no responsibility if your property is damaged or destroyed.

    That said, the process you are talking about is called corning. A few hundred years ago, when kegs of Black Powder were carted long distances over bumpy dirt roads, it was discovered the three ingredients, Saltpeter, Sulfur and Charcoal would tend to separate out from the vibration. The mix would no longer be consistent but would tend to stratify according to the weight of the individual components, leading to inconsistent powder that could not be depended on to deliver consistent energy or velocity. Just mixing dry powders together, there is nothing that binds them together to form a consistent mixture that will not separate when vibrated.

    Corning is the process of adding a prescribed amount of water and alcohol into the dry powder, and mixing it until the powder is a consistent mixture all the way through. The powder is then dried, and run through a press to remove all the moisture. The resultant 'cake' is then broken up and milled to form grains. The grains are then run through screens of various sizes to separate out the different grain sizes. Once it has been corned, vibration will not separate the powder into its separate components. It is not a chemical mixture, it is a mechanical mixture, but the components are locked together.

    That is all I am going to tell you. I am not going to go into more detail except to tell you that today Goex and the other BP manufacturers have separate buildings for separate processes and do these processes remotely with automatic equipment in case something goes wrong. Making Black Powder in your home is just a bad idea. It is easily available safely from commercial vendors.
     
  7. beag_nut

    beag_nut Member

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    I remember touring the Brandywine River in Delaware years ago. Besides beautiful gingko trees, it was lined on one side by black-powder processing "sheds" formerly used by DuPont before and during the Revolutionary War. Each stone shed was a semi-circle, with the open part facing the river. That was so that the inevitable explosions would happen over open water, where no one lived, and blow the contents of the shed (and mules used for the grinding of the powder) in a harmless direction. So my advice would be to immediately abandon making one's own black powder. Especially if one doesn't know what freeze-drying entails, but wishes to try it with an explosive.
     
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  8. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Not down playing the hazards folks. But these guys are batching a pound or two at a time. Think it might take more than that to blow up a house or throw a steel plate a 1/2 mile. It also takes a measure of containment to create the explosive force.
     
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  9. jaguarxk120

    jaguarxk120 Member

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    We do not need any news paper reporting about someone making explosives in their basement!
    There is enough bad press about gun owners today, it is just stupid to go looking for more!

    I know of one black powder web site that will not have any post's about making powder.
    And that's good since all you have to do is read Phil Sharpe's book on reloading.

    Is ti cheaper or better, I do not know and I'm not going to try and find out.
     
  10. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    I only put about 100 grams or so at a time and even then explosions can be highly prevented. Just be smart about it...make small batches, use non sparking media in the ball mill such as lead or lead filled copper pipe cylinders. No ceramic or metal and keep away from open flames/sparks, use common sense and you will be fine. All the large companies who make large batches of powder had accidents due to someone making a mistake...more people working on the project adds more of a chance of an accident to happen. If you are the only one working on it and you follow common sense and safety protocols then you have minimized risk tremendously . Lots of folks i know make it and theyve never had an issue. I wont tell anyone or warn them not to make black powder...they are adults and can do as they please. All we can do is help with advice that they ask about. Making black powder is an amazing art and hobby and i wont try to scare anyone from trying to make their own and become independent from the large powder companies and their prices. I make powder thats hotter and cleaner than swiss and the raw materials i purchased in bulk are having me produce powder at only 2 dollars a pound for the finished product. There are also many methods to make powder and just about everyway that can be used is mentioned in the castboolits forum link. Personally i dont use water or alcohol to make my powder nor use a binder as its not necessary with the corning method..i make my powder pucks by compressing the ingredients under high pressure and then corn it....no matter how hard its shaken the grains do not fall apart and seperate. Check out the forum link i posted earlier to get great info from supportive individuals who have posted tons of data from experimenta theyve done with different ingredients and methods. Trust me its a great read
     
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  11. Brutuskend

    Brutuskend Member

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    Here is what I am using.

    20201114_112454.jpg 20201114_112430.jpg 20201114_112407.jpg
    It all went into a harbor freight rock polisher with 18 .50 balls and I ran it for about 14 hours.
    All told, I probably ran about 1 1/2 or 2 lbs. at a time.

    BTW.
    This isn't the first time I have made BP. Just the first time I have done it with any degree of seriousness. I used to make very very small batches as a kid back in the 60's.
     
  12. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    I enjoy posts about making black powder because it's part of the sport and the 2A.
    What I read about home freeze drying is that it could take weeks and still may not dry out as intended.
    If it's a first attempt to make powder then I would use a proven conventional method to obtain a baseline of results.
    That way the formula and ingredients can be tested for potency before trying any experiments.

    These instructions say using a very minimal amount of water and or alcohol helps bind the potassium nitrate without allowing large crystals to form or leach out. --->>> http://www.creagan.net/fireworks/blackpowder.html
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
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  13. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    A few years ago a Civil War reenactment group came to my club. They had a 3 inch Ordance Rifle. This is a cannon with a 3" bore. Their 'practice' load was 1/2 pound of powder and a 9 1/2 pound solid lead projectile. They fired a few rounds into our 50 yard berm as part of their demonstration. They would not tell me what their 'competition' load was, but I looked it up and the standard charge during the Civil War was one pound of powder and the same 9 1/2 pound projectile. Maximum firing range with the bore elevated 16 degrees was 4,180 yards. That is 2 3/8 miles. That is a lot of explosive force. One pound of Black Powder exploding in the enclosed space of a house may not completely blow up the house, but it would most likely kill anyone in the room.

    I simply cannot see the sense of saving a few bucks on a pound of powder when powder is easily available commercially. This from a guy who used to go through 20 pounds of powder every couple of years.
     
  14. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    ..thats why you dont run a ball mill inside your home. I run mine more than 100 feet from my home and its in a small shelter made from rail road ties and before that it was guarded by a bunch of stacked mesquite and oak fire wood. I dont know anyone whl would run the mill inside and i have yet to meet or even hear of one exploding on someone. Best way to ensure your media is mixed well in ball mill is mix your container half full with grinding media...in this case your lead round balls...then 1/4 of the container with powder ingredients...there should be 1/5 worth of space to allow the media to be mixed well. This seems to be the sweet spot. The charcoal in The picrure may not be good at all...its mixed hardwood and most likely will make poor powder. Get some shredded red cedar pet bedding in the pet products isle from walmart and cook it in a retort (or paint can with a couple nail holes on top or 1/8 inch hole on lid) and place in fire to make the charcoal. The red cedar makes a high quality powder. Or if you can find black willow or most millow species will make great/better powder. My personal preference is red alder and paulownia. Paulonia makes the best fastes cleanest powder hands down. Havent seen it been beat.
     
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  15. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

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    See social distancing does work. Where exactly is your basement??? lol
     
  16. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Some hardwoods seem to work okay, with the more milling the better.
    Goex is reputed to be made from maple.
    If worse comes to worse, it can always be mixed with commercial powder.

    1. http://www.wichitabuggywhip.com/fireworks/charcoal_tests.html
    2. https://pyrodata.com/chemicals/Charcoal

    That Mindy hardwood charcoal seems to be pretty expensive, and the final product made with it would cost a lot more than $2 per pound.
    Brutuskend, how much will the black powder end up costing you per pound for just the ingredients?
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
  17. Brutuskend

    Brutuskend Member

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    I'm not sure. With cost of the mill, more than store bought no doubt. But the cost isn't really the issue with me, more the fact that I can be pretty much self sufficiant.
    Plus I always like learning new things.
    For instance, today I learned you have to do your measuring by WEIGHT and not by volume. :(

    Also, I bought the salt peter to nitrate papers at first, then decided since the majority said it was a waste of time...well I had it, so thought I may as well USE it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
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  18. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    There should be a way to correct the mistake even if it takes a long time.
    Just use a scale to obtain the weights of the volume of each ingredient that you used, and calculate how much that you need to add of the ingredients that there's a shortage of.
    Then figure out a way how to re-mix them thoroughly.
    You're not the first person to make that mistake.
    None of the ingredients have been lost.
    My Karma-meter thinks that the low price that you paid for that gold plated Hartford Model has come back to haunt you.
    Like Al Bundy said after he won the lottery, "Oh no! That means that bad luck is right around the corner!" ;)
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
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  19. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    I paid 1.88 per pound of raw lab grade ingredients to make black powder..got it from Duda Diesel a few years back . paid 206 bux shipped to me. That was my salt peter and sulfur. I bought enough to make 110 pounds of black powder to last me close to a lifetime of shooting. I only make it as i use it and only make about a pound at a time and done make more till im close to finished with it. The charcoal is free. Ball mill cost me 60 bux from harbor frieght. The 20 ton jack was about 40 bucks i believe. And the billet aluminum puck die was custom made by a member on the castboolits forum for only 25 bucks shipped.. So all in all u have about $330 invested in raw ingredients and tools necessary to make black powder that is BETTER than Swiss (not by much but still better and way cheaper). So $1.88 per pound but if you count the tools invested then technically i paid exactly 3 dollars per pound for 110 pounds of high quality powder. after i have finished the raw ingredients (if i ever finish 110 pounds) then the price will get cheaper as the price of tools will not be part of the equation price. So not only did i get the powder for a fraction (10%) of the price of high quality store powder i am now not dependent on powder companies and their fluctuating prices and/or lack of inventory . AND i get to control the quality of my powder. It really is a cost efficient endeavor if you do your homework before diving into the hobby and buy bulk. Also learning the art/craft was worth it all. Its very fun.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
  20. Brutuskend

    Brutuskend Member

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    My scale showed up today and I weighed out the equivalent of what I had already mixed and milled. Added the correct amount of what was short and then just mixed it up a bit by hand then tested it out. WOW, it worked GREAT. Much better than any I had ever made in the past. This was just the air float mix, haven't corned it yet. Do you really need to do this step? Is it just to hold it together? Can't it just be used as is, if you don't move it around enough to get the chemicals to separate?
     
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  21. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    You might want to read up on the history of the stuff, to better understand it. ;)

    YES the original gunpowder, which was used in medieval canon aka "bombards" was simply a mixture of the ingredients. You can do that too.

    OH and the original stuff didn't have as much sulfur, if any sulfur at all, which required much more than a spark to get it to go. The Sulfur lowers the ignition temp a bit and makes it easier to cause it to go.

    MEDIEVAL CANON.JPG

    BUT putting this in barrels and then jostling those barrels in wagons that rode over cobblestoned streets followed by dirt roads and then cross country to a battlefield, caused the mixture to separate, as you mentioned. Combining the ingredients into one mass, prevented separation AND gave better consistency to the finished batch over time. :thumbup:

    LD
     
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  22. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Good for you.
    I suppose that you can even though it's not recommended.
    But there can be some drawbacks such as when loading it into a rifle or trying to use it in a flask.
    Are you always going to measure it out in scoops to not jostle it?
    And it may be more difficult to pour a fine powder into a rifle barrel.
    You'll need to be careful to not let it suck up moisture which 4F is susceptible to.
    Maybe you can try lightly wetting only a portion of the batch to corn it and test the results.
    Either way, you can always mill it again.

    I know that you already read the Creagan advisory below that states:

    "Corning should be considered as advisable rather than an option. Besides creating Black Powder grains that can be used in regulating burn speed, corning also keeps the fine particles of potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal from separating from one another.
    Thus corned powder is on the whole better powder. Even very fine meal powders are corned powders, as opposed to just dry mixtures of finely ground materials." --->>> http://www.creagan.net/fireworks/blackpowder.html
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
  23. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I used to read of the old loose mix as Serpentine powder. Surely a cannoneer worthy of his pay would know how to remix his powder when he arrived at the siege site.
     
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  24. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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  25. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    If you arent going to compress and corn then you need to add a binder to your powder. Anywhere from 1-3% should do...some people use 5% but thats way too much IMO. The common binder is dextrin..its very cheap and easy to find and/or make. To use...add it to your mix very well such as in the ball mill with your black powder mix..once mixed then moisten the powder lightly and roll into a ball and then run that ball over a window screen then catch the "grains" over newspaper and allow them to dry. Use distilled water or 50/50 distilled water and alcohol.
     
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