How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way in Less Than 30 Minutes

James Walton
By James Walton December 30, 2016 14:33

How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way in Less Than 30 Minutes

by James Walton

Would you believe that this powerful propellant, that has changed the world as we know it, was made as far back as 142 AD?

With that knowledge, how about the fact that it took nearly 1200 years for us to figure out how to use this technology in a gun. The history of this astounding substance is one that is inextricably tied to the human race. Imagine the great battles and wars tied to this simple mixture of sulfur, carbon and potassium nitrate. Mixed in the right ratios this mix becomes gunpowder.

In this article, we are going to talk about the process of making gunpowder.

We have just become such a dependent bunch that the process, to most of us, seems like some type of magic that only a Merlin could conjure up. So, we will lift the veil on gunpowder.

Related: The Lost Art of Cut Shells

Gun Powder Formula:

  • 75% Potassium Nitrate
  • 15% Charcoal
  • 10% Sulfur

RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE GUNPOWDER

Tools:

  • Digital Ounces Scale
  • 2 Glass or Plastic Mixings Containers
  • Plastic spoon
  • Blunt object for smashing potassium nitrite (I used the handle of a small tack hammer)
  • Fine mesh sieve

Ingredients:

TECHNIQUE

A little safety first before we get into steps and instructions. Sulfur can kill you and the gas it gives off when burned can kill you. Potassium nitrite is no picnic either, it can damage your vision and poison you if ingested. Gunpowder is highly flammable/explosive and could cause you great physical harm.

  • Wear eye protection
  • Use gloves
  • Use a dust mask
  • Work in a well-ventilated area
  • Most importantly use common sense

PROCEED WITH CAUTION!

How To Make Gun Powder:

#Step One

Gather your ingredients and measure them based on the black powder formula above. Whether you are making 1lb or 10lb the breakdown will be the same 75% Potassium Nitrate, 15% Charcoal and 10% Sulfur.Step One How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way

#Step Two

Next mill or grind your saltpeter. Most recommend doing this in a ball mill but I wanted to do this all by hand to get an idea of how it would work without conveniences.Step Two How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way

#Step Three

Once the potassium is ground add the measured charcoal and sulfur and begin to mix the ingredients thoroughly.Step Three How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way

#Step Four

As you can see in the photo above the mix was not completely smooth so I ran it through a mesh sieve to remove and potassium nitrate that had not been ground fine enough. This process created a much finer powder and helped incorporate the three ingredients.Step Four How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way

#Step Five

It worked so much better than hand mixing I just ran it through the sieve again. You can really see it becoming something at this point. The sieve was crucial to this process if you are going to be doing it by hand. The finer the sieve the better.Step Five How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way

#Step Six

The final product looked something like this. I was very happy with the consistency achieved in such a short amount of time. This whole process may have taken 30 minutes. Most people recommend you run the ingredients in a ball mill for 12 hours! That said, their black powder is of a superior quality in comparison to what was created here by hand. Still, this stuff would get the job done.Step Six How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way

#Step Seven (Optional)

I folded a small piece of paper in half and laid that on a rock before lighting it. Light this stuff from a distance with a torch or a long piece of paper. Especially the first time. You will not know how good your black powder is and you don’t want to find out by having it scorch your face.Step Seven How To Make Gun Powder The Old Fashioned Way

#Step Eight (Optional)

If you want to make it more powerful here are two great tips for powering up your gunpowder:

  • Add water to the mix and stir it into a paste then allow it to dry. This really gets the three powders to mingle thoroughly.
  • Add (isopropyl) alcohol to the mix depending on batch size and this will make it really angry when the fire hits it.

Making gunpowder at home is one of those cheap and easy endeavors that will surprise you. It’s also puts you in contact with a process that changed the course of history! Just be safe and smart as you are creating a highly combustible substance!

You may also like:

How to Make a Smoke Grenade

How to Make Your House Invisible To Looters (Video)

Caught With 1200 Guns and 2 Tons of Ammunition. What Was He Prepping For?

Surviving Martial Law: What To Do If It Hits Your Town

How To Disappear Completely When SHTF

Disclaimer: I am not a gun powder expert. Accidents can happen. If you choose to take the advice in this article, all risks are on you. I made gun powder for recreational purposes and as an experiment to train myself for when SHTF.How To Make Gun Powder Step BY Step With Pictures Infografic

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James Walton
By James Walton December 30, 2016 14:33
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81 Comments

  1. Dean Humble December 30, 16:15

    Have you tried to use sugar in place of coal or charcoal?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jim A. Paschis. December 30, 16:22

    Tell typical retail store type that the ingredients may be purchased from.

    Reply to this comment
    • whiskers December 30, 19:05

      Home depot for the stump remover.

      Reply to this comment
    • Ray C. January 3, 04:42

      The stump remover from a hardware store, the charcoal you make yourself, look on YouTube, the sulfur hardware store for mediocre stuff, a chemical supply for better quality.

      Reply to this comment
      • Jugband May 12, 04:09

        And where do you get a better quality supply after SHTF and there are no chemical supply houses or Home Depots open anymore? That’s a weakness in this idea… sulfur must be dug from a mine unless you live in Yellowstone Park, near a geyser. There are formulas on Youtube for making a passable powder without sulfur.

        Reply to this comment
        • 13 Fox October 24, 05:40

          The idea would be to have it ready BEFORE SHTF like your ammo, fuel, food, etc. Stockpile first – use oldest first, etc. Everything will be very difficult to acquire after SHTF so stockpile as much as possible.

          Reply to this comment
          • Jugband July 23, 00:08

            Yes, stockpiling is the only way, except in the case of black powder, where you can not only make your own, you can make most of the components needed to make your own, except sulfur, and you can make inferior but shootable power with alternatives.

            If we ever have an EMP strike from Rocket Man, or (even more likely) our own sun, there will be no electricty for a period that isn’t marked by hours, days, but more like years.

            Estimate is 18 months minimum, because the EMP doesn’t just fry circuit boards, it multiplies voltage.

            Voltage on the lines running past your house will jump from a few hundred to many thousands, which will blow the step-down transformers used to supply each house. Usually a transformer supplies 2-4 house, so how long would it take to replace every traformer in a service area, after the power company became able to function again?

            This same effect would also fry the generators themselves.

            There is a 50-pound federal regulatory limit on the amount of black powder you can store.

            You can buy tons of smokeless powder (subject to local fire codes) but it is little good for stockpiling unless you also lay in a supply of primers.

            The feds aren’t going to monitor your powder purchases, and show up with a search warrant, but that’s one of those regulations/laws that exists for a good reason, best to obey it even when nobody’s looking.

            But if you want to store a thousand pounds of sulfur, there’s no law against that.

            I know people may be thinking that 50 pounds of powder would be a lifetime supply, but after there’s no electricty, banks will cease to operate, and we’ll probably be forced into a bartering system.

            A friend of mine told me that he’s accumulated 80,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition, and he doesn’t even own a 9mm gun.

            Thought is that 9mm is the most common handgun caliber, and when he needs eggs he can trade cartridges for eggs with someone who has chickens but no ammunition.

            Further, said Egg Farmer may not have a 9mm either, but has a line on someone that owns a 9mm and half a ton of chicken feed both.

            You might not need 50 pounds of powder to shoot, but if there’s an EMP disaster, it’s a great fire-starter and may be good for bartering.

            Reply to this comment
    • jackieray August 8, 02:48

      Loews Wal-mart

      Reply to this comment
  3. Jim A. Paschis. December 30, 16:28

    I recall getting some bulk gunpowder (from a fire destroyed sporting goods store). It was shaped like 2 mm doughnuts. I had some fine bronze wire and threaded the little gunpowder “doughnuts” on to the wire for a total length of about 6 inches. Yes, it made a nice fuse.

    Reply to this comment
  4. dougnicholson December 30, 16:51

    Your instructions don’t say specifically what you did with the results after running it through the sieve. I would assume that the product that didn’t fit through the sieve was then crushed further and run through the sieve again, etc., until all ingredients were included in the mixture. Is this correct?

    Reply to this comment
    • whiskers December 30, 19:07

      Don’t want to recrush finised product until you increase life insurance policy, so that your wife gets a good start with her new husband.

      Reply to this comment
      • RT January 26, 19:25

        That is funny stuff, I am still laughing….too funny. 🙂

        Reply to this comment
      • Jugband July 23, 00:19

        You can re-crush finished product with a non-sparking mortar & pestle with a fair degree of safety.

        The can be bought, usually with a wooden bowl and wooden mortar.

        Surprsingly, ceramic (which most of the are made of) can create sparks. That’s why you never use ceramic media (Which is available) in a ball mill.

        Even with wood-to-wood, you can create a static discharge, especially of the humidity is very low.

        Should that happen, you’ll lose your eyebrows, and probably wind up with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on your hands and lower forearms.

        Safest way is to use a non-sparking mortar & pestle set, AND re-wet the powder with a laundry spray bottle, which will partially undo all the seiving and sifting that was already done.

        As someone mentioned, best way is to get each component sized right before you ever start combining them.

        Reply to this comment
        • DiamondDixie July 29, 14:59

          Definitely mortar and pestle grind each component before mixing. Wetting it all to a paste will keep your arms, fingers, and even your head where it’s supposed to be. Leave the ratios alone if you are serious. Just be very careful. Making your own gunpowder is no joke. A rag over your nose and mouth with these ingredients and some type of eye protection is required. Wear gloves if you’re smart, and make it in an open air place. You can make incredibly dangerous and effective explosives with this, so make certain you have the balls to use it if you make it. This country gal days so. I’ve got big clanging brass balls, having been taught this stuff all my life. Be well everyone. Be wise. Be prepared. Never act, but react with everything you’ve got. Protect you and yours, but remember this: you do not want to carry innocent souls on your shoulders. DD

          Reply to this comment
    • Chas February 24, 16:43

      If you are removing that much Potassium Nitrate from the mix in this sifting procedure, won’t that throw you mix ratio off. I would say sift the components prior to mixing, and get the grind size right first. so you don’t have to deal with any clumps.

      Reply to this comment
    • steve March 25, 15:25

      gring ALL components separately and dampen the mixyure thoroughly before mixing or you could blow your arm off.

      Reply to this comment
  5. fgduncan December 30, 17:07

    Good process/procedure but you need to proofread your article to correct “nitrite” to “nitrate” in a couple of places. As a chemist, that difference is significant.

    Reply to this comment
  6. hdcr1 December 30, 17:11

    I have found that adding the water makes it a little safer to work with because it cuts down on the dust but then you have to let it dry and you must break up the clumps . that is unless you have a cannon. just be very careful. This is no joke you don’t want a few pounds of this stuff going off in your house.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jugband May 12, 04:15

      Adding water to mixed black powder can cause the potassium nitrate to re-crystallize, which will reduce the power of the powder unless it’s re-crushed or run through a ball mill again. If dampening the finished powder, prior to pressing into puck for corning, if just needs to be dampened a little like with an iron-board sprayer bottle. Compressing and corning powder is the best way to make it powerful enough for use in firearms. Simple mixing the three ingredients gives you “Black Meal”, which is essentially the same thing the Chinese used for blowing stone cannon balls our of cannons with bamboo barrels in 800 A.D. Not exactly the high-power stuff you need in a cap & ball gun.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Chuck December 30, 17:44

    Nice to know how to make it

    Reply to this comment
    • Jugband May 12, 04:17

      Now you know how to make it so long as there are places to buy all the components. Potassium Nitrate CAN be made, but it’s a process that takes months. Charcoal can be made pretty readily. Sulfur must be mined from someplace that’s had volcanic activity in the distant past. It can be found on the ground around geysers. If you live near one, you’ll be doing great.

      Reply to this comment
      • Albert Hoffman June 17, 14:25

        Sulfur can be extracted from drywall (calcium sulfate) by the Elcor process using a wet, low pressure process for making hydrogen sulfide gas. It is a somewhat complicated and time consuming but not dangerous process. You have to convert calcium sulfate to calcium sulfide using carbon and black iron oxide for a catalyst and then convert the calcium sulfide to calcium carbonate and hydrogen sulfide with carbon dioxide. The hydrogen sulfide is then directed into sulfurous acid that you can produce at the time you are making the calcium sulfide by capturing the sulfur dioxide that is vented off and directing it into water. Once you are set up the procedure would go faster. You could be venting the carbon dioxide from your fermenting wine or mash into the processor .

        Reply to this comment
  8. left coast chuck December 30, 18:03

    The last time there was an article on this site about making your own gunpowder I checked the stump remover I had in my garage and found that it contained a very low percentage of potassium nitrate. The percentage was so low that I guessed it would be useless to make anything but the lowest grade of gun powder. I am not a black powder aficionado by any means, but I do know that different grinds of black powder are used for different firearms. Black powder is measured by the number of Fs assigned to it. F is very coarse, FF is less coarse down to FFFF which is very fine and is generally used in flash pans for flintlock weapons. Much like smokeless powder, there are different degrees of burn rate. Bullseye is a very fast smokeless powder and is used in small amounts in handgun cartridges. Retumbo is very slow and is used in magnum rifle cartridges. Any hand loading book can give you the burn rates of various powders. So how does all this useless info apply here? I assume the author of this article intended to use the black powder he made for use in a firearm. I would suggest that without some experience in using black powder now, this information would be extremely dangerous. The usual dictum is that you cannot blow up a black powder firearm but some experiments have proved that to be incorrect. If your future plans involve making your own black powder to use in a firearm, I would strongly suggest that you get involved with shooting black powder now and subscribe to some magazine dealing with same and join a black powder shooting club to get familiar with using black powder. It’s more complicated than the article would suggest.

    Reply to this comment
    • 5.56tony February 20, 16:31

      I shoot black pow a 54 cal flint lock and you are spot on with what you wrote I hope people pay attention to what you wrote thanks good information.

      Reply to this comment
  9. PB dave December 30, 21:15

    This is old hat to us 60 year olds who got chemistry sets for Christmas. Bring backs boyhood memories of making our own fire crackers. Thankfully God watches over fools and small children 🙂 .
    To say be careful is an understatement, but maybe a sister article on safe storage and powder magazine design would be in order.

    Reply to this comment
    • Buzz February 19, 10:43

      LOL A friend and I used to make this at the ripe old age of 14 we made bombs out of metal pipe, we also used Carbide for big bangs. We sure had a lot of fun no wonder I wear hearing aids now. lmbo

      Reply to this comment
  10. link December 30, 21:37

    a old formula the french used was to add urine to the dry mix mix it real good and air dry then mill it in a powder mill had no metal parts all wood and stone then sieve for grain size had the best powder in europe ; and some one asked about putting sugar in there black powder won’t shoot worth a damn but makes simple rocket fuel ;and no the loading data for smokeless powder does not apply to black powder black powder shells for rifles had a lot of powder in them like my friends rifle took 90 grains it was a 45/90/110 remington as45 cal. 90 grains shell length was i think 110 MM also as a kid like 9 or 10 i made about a half pound of home made black powder and tried to dry the mix in my mothers oven with just the pilot light on; on a gas stove it was interesting to say the least almost blew up the stove and lied to my mother and said i was using sulpher smoke to kill roachs

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck December 31, 01:58

      @link:: While you are certainly correct that there is no correlation between black powder loads and smokeless powder loads, I think your memory has slipped regarding the .45/90. That designation was the caliber of the bullet and how many grains of black powder was loaded. Below is taken from a Wikipedia explanation of thr .45/90 and 50/110 cartridges: “The standard factory loads, produced and sold by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company and the Sharps Rifle Company were .50/100/425 (.50 caliber/100 grains black powder/425 grain grease grooved bullet) and .50/100/473 with a paper patched bullet. Factory loads manufactured by any of the Sharps companies were mostly hand-loaded which made them expensive to produce. This naturally invited competition. Winchester offered the cartridge loaded .50/90/473 with paper patched bullets which may be how the cartridge came to be commonly known as the .50-90. The .50-90 Sharps is similar to the .50-100 Sharps and .50-110 Sharps cartridges. All three use the same 2.5-inch (64 mm) case, the latter two being loaded with more grains of black powder. All rifles made for the .50-90 Sharps should be able to use the .50-110 and .50-100 cartridges due to the case dimensions being nearly identical”

      Reply to this comment
      • sureshot1 January 1, 13:48

        I have a Sharps .45-120 rifle sold by Taylor’s and Co. known as a Quigley rifle because it was the type used by Tom Selleck in the movie Quigley Down Under. Tom’s rifle actually was a .45-110 rifle and not a .45-120 like mine. I have several different cartridges and loads for my rifle, but the most accurate load is a Federal 215 mag primer with 120 grains of 2F Goex black powder behind an over powder wad column with 2 fiber wads and 1/4″ of beeswax lube wad topped off with a 450 grain pure lead cast bullet. I have shot under an inch groups with that load and open sights. I love the rifle,but it is a little brutal to shoot after a while.

        Reply to this comment
      • Dan October 7, 03:25

        Chuck, while I may be mistaken, though I don’t thin k so, there were three cartridges, the .45-70, .45-90, and 45-120. I have a .45-70 and believe the shell casings of both the .45-90 and .45-120 increase in length with each one.

        Reply to this comment
        • Jugband October 7, 10:16

          Black powder cartridges were typically (with exceptions) designated with bullet-diameter-powder charge. A .45-70 was .45 bullet over 70 grains of FFg, .44-40 was a .44 pushed by 40 grains of FFFg, etc.

          The .45-70 Government (A.K.A. .45-70 Springfield) was developed at the Springfield Armory in 1873, and adhered to this custom.

          But Sharps rifles, mostly pre-dating the .45-70 Govt. were designated by case-length.

          Sharps did not use designations like .50-90 (“Big Fifty” Sharps).

          Instead, it designated cartridges by bore size and case length. Technically, the “Big Fifty” was known as the .50 Sharps 2-1/2 Inch.

          Depending on the bullet used, the case could be loaded as any of what was later designated .50-90, .50-100 or .50-110.

          The .50-90 loading used the heaviest bullet and gave the best performance at relatively short ranges out to about 100 yards.

          The two heavier loads used relatively lighter bullets and gave better performance at extended ranges.

          Billy Dixon’s famous shot Adobe Walls was made with a .50 Sharps 2-1/2 Inch case loaded to .50-110 specification.

          He borrowed it, believing that his own Sharps .45-90 wouldn’t reach out the mile between himself and Quanah Parker, sitting on a horse atop a low hill at a distance of 1,538 yards, as measured afterwards by an Army Survey team in the area.

          In Sharps’ nomenclature, the .50-70 was first known as the .50 Sharps 1-3/4 Inch and later as the .50 Sharps 2 Inch, and was sometimes referred to as the “Little Fifty.”

          So it made a difference whether you were talking about a .45-70 Govt. cartridge, which was always over 70 grains of powder or a .45-70 Sharps, which was sold as a .45 2 4/10 or a .45-2.4, and popularly called a .45-70 Sharps The .45-70 Sharps and .45-90 Sharps used the same cases.

          Reply to this comment
    • WarDog January 13, 14:33

      Dude, ever think about using a period or a capital letter when you write?!? Sure would make it easier for the rest of use to read your stuff… just sayin.

      Reply to this comment
  11. lc65 December 30, 23:28

    Where do you buy ” activated charcoal ” and sulfur ?
    Also, seems like you need to shoot it and see how it works for your last step.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jugband May 12, 04:22

      There are a number of pyrotechnic websites that sell all you need, and in fact many of them sell component kits, with the right quantities of all three ingredients for making 10 pounds. A kit currently costs about $65. Do a search on “pyrotechnics”. Try http://www.hobbychemicalsupply.com/black-powder-kit/ or “pyrodirect.com”.

      Reply to this comment
    • Jugband May 12, 04:36

      You get to the heart of the matter. There IS no place to buy “activated charcoal” and sulfur, not after SHTF and there are no stores around anymore. The only impossibility is sulfur. Luckily you can make a passable powder with no sulfur, charcoal is easy to make and potassium nitrate can be made in a months-long process. A mixture of 60grams potassium nitrate, 30grams sugar, 4 grams powdered charcoal, 80ml water in a pot will work, or also 65% Potassium Nitrate 35% Sugar ball-milled. Sugar may re-crystallize inside a barrel, as a problem to clean. Sulfur reduces burning temperature, so you wouldn’t want to be doing too much target practice with any mixture not using it unless you allow good cooling time between shots. But sulfur is the only component impossible to make at home and it CAN be left out after there are no more retailers to sell you sulfur. Sugar could become hard to get, but a number of plants can be used for sugar extraction. Or you can start stocking up now on sulfur from various pyrotechnic supply websites. Rubbermaker’s sulfur is the best grade to buy. Hobbychemicalsupply.com sells 10 pounds for $42 delivered.

      Reply to this comment
    • Jugband September 4, 00:34

      Activated charcoal is not required. He probably specified activated charcoal because you can’t use regular charcoal briquets. BBQ charcoal, especially briquets, contains binders and other chemicals to help you light it, and to glue it into briquettes.

      You don’t need activated charcoal but you DO need PURE charcoal (which activated charcoal is), and that’s not found at WalMart or Home Depot.

      Online pyrotechnic sites sell black powder kits, which include pure saltpeter, pure charcoal and pure sulfur.

      Most stump removers are 80%-90% potassium nitrate, and it can be used to make black powder, but 100% potassium nitrate will make better powder.

      Reply to this comment
    • David Cross July 17, 21:01

      You do not want “activated charcoal” as it is worthless for bp

      Reply to this comment
  12. John John December 31, 03:57

    As a kid, I had a friend who’s Dad made flint-lock rifles. So indirectly I had access to gun powder. My friend knew the danger, but I did not.
    I had an Idea to make my own rocket out of a Bic pen. I pulled apart the pen, put a fire-cracker in one end with the fuse inside, I filled the pen with powder, and then propped the pen on an angle and made a line of gun powder for a fuse. My friend lit a match and dropped it next to the line of gunpowder and jumped back like he was afraid. The match stayed lit–sitting right next to the powder line, but never touched it. I wasn’t afraid. I’ve watched dozens of westerns and I believed the “fuse of powder” would burn slowly. It didn’t.
    I reached down and turned the match over onto the powder. The powder burned instantaneously, and the rocket shot out 40-feet and the fire-cracker “popped” on queue. SUCCESS, except for the 3rd degree burn all over my hand.
    I lied to my Mom and said I burned my hand on the Hot water heater pipe. It took over three weeks for my painful burn to heal.

    Reply to this comment
    • Henry J June 9, 02:54

      I seriously doubt you received 3rd-degree burns. Third-degree burns mean it burned all the way through 3 layers of skin destroying nerves and even go as far as into the muscles. I’ve been there so I know!

      Reply to this comment
  13. Reticent Rogue December 31, 13:58

    Mixing the ingredients dry is not recommended. One spark of static electricity and you are done. The old timers mixed it wet, using stale urine to give it an extra kick. Get the mix to a consistency of bread dough and make a ball. Rub the dough ball against a screen onto a cookie pan or other flat surface to get the right grain size and let dry.

    Reply to this comment
    • snow4feetdeep January 8, 00:35

      Thank you for sharing a very helpful process by which to attain what everyone who reads this thread is thinking about, as good a quality of gunpowder.

      You alone, thus far down the forum, have truly made this quest simply easier, likely to produce a gunpowder that will reliably give the same, or expected, results every time.

      Just because we may be without modern amenities, a supply of any of the ingredients, the actual experience in life to have or know where to procure the needed supplies, and on and on, doesn’t mean a determined average person couldn’t find them. After all, do you think the earliest makers of gunpowder back in triple-digit AD had a clue as to what was finally gonna work? Somebody had to be experimenting, and they may well not have been trying to make gunpowder, but stumbled upon it, and other useful results.

      So, if y’all will share further information as to where one might find the ingredients, should they not be thus informed, it might just end up like the majority of posts here, read.

      I would be much appreciative of this knowledge myself. Even though I’ve traveled through most of the United States, ascertaining where I might find gunpowder ingredients no matter where I was, was not something I did. Indeed, a long list of places I could find them would be spectacular. I’m not talking about supply stores or other overly obvious places, but such as acquiring salt peter from pharmacies, and more obscure places that might not be thought of. Together with the places in your area where the acquisitions can be made, this information would create a colossal sourcebook for each of us and anyone else who wanders this way.

      Heck, we could eventually compile a printable resource database for anywhere just by sharing what we know or are willing to find out and post,about our area.

      Hope this helps somebody. I gotta go get started.

      Reply to this comment
    • Jugband May 12, 04:42

      There is nothing terribly wrong with mixing dry ingredients so long as you use a non-sparking mortar & pestle. Best to grind components fine individually them mix, but if you need to re-grind, a non-sparking bowl with a wooden stick will maintain safety. You can buy a non-sparking mortar & pestle from several pyrotechnic websites, like skylighter.com or hobbychemicalsupply.com.

      Reply to this comment
  14. Red January 1, 22:28

    I believe that there is a typo/misspelling in the technique section. It says, “Potassium nitrIte is no picnic…” The rest of the article says potassium nitrAte. (Capital added for emphasis.)

    Reply to this comment
  15. Ray C. January 3, 05:05

    Well, I believe I am the culprit who ask for this recipe. I own a black powder cartridge rifle in .45/70 and shoot 550 grain lead bullets. The reason for the article is not because I need to know how to make black, it is because others don’t know how and should learn. I started making black when I was in high school and lived around people who came from the Ozarks, great folks, taught me a whole lot of stuff, especially how to make black.The formula is 100% correct, I have fudge it on every one of the ingredients and it doesn’t help. I suggest everyone who is interested in the knowledge of how to make black go check out YouTube, many videos their that show how in detail. The biggest danger there is with black is any type of spark, it will go bang in a big way. an ounce, not much enclosed in anything will blow your arm off, no shit. If you use black in cartridges, they should be as close to straight wall as possible, you also need to compress black to make it work right. Never leave an air gap between the powder and the bullet, the over pressure will ruin a real sturdy firearm.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 9, 00:53

      Ray: Your comments are exactly why I recommended earlier in this thread that if one were interested in pursuing black powder firearms and usage, to join a black powder shooting club and acquire the knowledge now while such acquisition is not critical. Waiting until the shoe falls may prove too late. Using black powder as a propellant for firearms or as an explosive is a complex topic and requires more knowledge that can be transmitted in this forum. In addition, too many self-styled experts post bad information which can be seriously detrimental to the uninformed.

      Reply to this comment
    • Henry J June 9, 03:05

      “The biggest danger there is with black is any type of spark, it will go bang in a big way. an ounce, not much enclosed in anything will blow your arm off, no shit.”
      The quote above is nonsense. If black powder is not tightly contained it will not explode, it simply goes “POOF/WHOOSH”. Even one pound in the open air will do that and if you stand too close you will get burned mostly first and second-degree burns but it certainly will not blow any appendage off your body! On the other hand, a 1-pound container, tightly sealed, will blow a 10×10 feet plywood shed sky high!

      Reply to this comment
    • Jugband June 9, 04:00

      Ray,

      Your statement of “The biggest danger there is with black is any type of spark, it will go bang in a big way. an ounce, not much enclosed in anything will blow your arm off, no shit.” exactly IS shit.

      You’re talking about black powder, not nitroglycerine.

      If it is “not much enclosed”, then it will “not much explode”, much less take off or even break anyone’s arm.

      It’s much more of a burn hazard unless it IS pretty strongly enclosed.

      Yeah, even a loose pile of black powder produces a quick, hot flame that will give you a serious burn if you’re too close to it, and black powder will set off from a small spark a little easier than smokeless powder, but that’s about the size of it.

      nitroglycerine.

      Reply to this comment
  16. CrustyMac January 3, 23:39

    Wish I had known about grinding up the salt peter when I first tried to make gun powder in 3rd grade. All we got was some very flammable, though not explosive, powder.

    Reply to this comment
  17. bobthemoron February 15, 22:14

    Used to make this stuff all the time when I was 13-14 years old. But then came girls. The formula is good but there are better formulas and practices that produce a more efficient black powder.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jugband September 4, 00:53

      If you had packed your very flammable powder into something that would contain it, like a cartridge or a musket barrel with a ball over it, it probably would have fired, not with the power you might want.

      You can use gardening sulfur from Home Depot. I believe it’s used for dusting roses to control insects.

      And you can use stump remover from Home Depot for the potassium nitrate.

      That will give you black powder (actually Black Meal) if used with pure charcoal, but not very GOOD powder.

      You’ll get much better powder and more suitable for firearms if you use much better components.

      Gunpowder, even smokeless, simply burns very fast unless it’s in some kind of confining container.

      The explosion you would have gotten might not have been super impressive, though.

      What is described in this article is the making of “Black Meal”, essentially the same thing that the Chinese used to fire stones out of a cannon with a bamboo barrel in 850 A.D.

      For use in a muzzle loader there are other steps needed to make the powder denser. Search for “Corning” on Youtube.

      That process will convert THIS formulation into a powder equivalent to modern commercial black powder.

      Reply to this comment
    • Mike February 20, 02:33

      I make selfbows,and can do so very easily. Arrows too. But then I also make knives and hatchets. Black powder
      someone stole all my guns. So I just have what I need in that department. What I did younger involved kitchen matches. Will try to rat hole all my powder.

      Reply to this comment
  18. montana hunter February 26, 17:18

    anybody ever try miracle grow as a substitute? makes a really big bang!!! but does require a hot spark i mixed 10% black powder substitute.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Dennis Danich April 9, 09:31

    There is a difference between syntax and substance. Syntax is a formula.
    Substance is the rest of a process to produce a desired result, you obviously know very little and I suggest you do not advise anybody about explosives or anything similar to the untrained

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck May 9, 00:48

      Dennis, while I agree that Montana’s comment leaves a lot of questions unanswered, still, wouldn’t a more useful comment have been to ask him to expand his post and give more detail? Just making a snarky comment about the lack of detail in his post doesn’t really add anything to the discussion either.

      Reply to this comment
    • Farmer November 6, 22:20

      Who are you criticizing? Your comment does not indicate to whom you are spewing.

      Reply to this comment
    • Farmer November 6, 22:22

      Dennis ….
      Who are you criticizing? Your comment does not indicate to whom you are spewing venom.

      Reply to this comment
  20. Older prepper May 11, 17:42

    I think most of the men on here, should not try making this powder! Based on reading all the posts. lol

    Reply to this comment
    • Jugband May 12, 04:37

      Just like handloading ammunition, safety is just a matter of being careful.

      Reply to this comment
      • Henry J June 11, 00:32

        Jugband, safety is a lot more than being careful. A person must have intimate knowledge and experience with the chemicals and processes he wishes to use/employ. To say it’s just being careful is such a wide sweeping statement, one that can get you seriously injured or killed!

        Reply to this comment
  21. Morph May 19, 10:12

    The way the world is today and you put a post like this up for any random pychopathic asshole ,to go out and make this then able to go stick it in something ,like a coffee can and use it to the negative ,faking stupidity at its best ,

    Reply to this comment
  22. 95Gregorio July 30, 04:36

    Hello blogger, i must say you have very interesting posts here.
    Your blog should go viral. You need initial traffic boost only.

    How to get it? Search for; Mertiso’s tips go viral

    Reply to this comment
  23. ray September 3, 18:23

    I made this stuff in highschool. It is much more powerful than black powder and should not be used in muzzle loaders.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jugband September 4, 01:02

      Are you talking about the original article, or the substitution of Miracle Gro, Ray?

      I don’t know about substituting Miracle Gro for one of the components, but the only reason you shouldn’t use the formula actually described here is that is LESS powerful than commercial black powder, and will give you anemic performance in a muzzle loader.

      Reply to this comment
  24. Texas Tom September 4, 20:06

    In my younger days,I made this formula.I got material from local drug store except for the charcoal.I put it in used CO2 cartridges with a piece of cannon fuse.It made a nice bang and the cartridges just split open.Probably would be labeled a terrorist these days

    Reply to this comment
  25. 5.56tony February 20, 16:33

    I shoot black pow a 54 cal flint lock and you are spot on with what you wrote I hope people pay attention to what you wrote thanks good information.

    Reply to this comment
  26. KevanF1 April 14, 16:31

    Salt petre (not Peter) may be obtainable in a near 100% pure form from food preparation supply houses/outlets. It is used to cure meat. Sulphur/sulfur can be gathered from either volcanic or simply earths hotspots. It’s not easy though. Check out You Tube and ‘Cody’s Lab for gathering natural sulphur otherwise look for ‘flowers of sulphur’ in a garden centre type outlet. As for charcoal. Well good stuff can be made fairly easily at home. Get a metal paint can of around 3 or 4 pints in size, bigger if you wish. Fill it with dry clean wooden twigs. Seasoned are far better, in fact I don’t think you’d have good results with fresh twigs. Seal the lid well make a couple of small holes in the lid. This is to allow ‘wood gas’ out and stop the lid popping off under pressure from that gas. Build a good fire and let it burn half way down; look for some good embers that you’d want for decent campfire baking (bread, potato etc) Put the can in the middle and then cover the lot in a slightly damp pile of soil. You want the fire to keep going not go out. What happens is the fire heats the wood in the paint can. The twigs can’t burn properly because there isn’t enough oxygen so they carbonize. After a good few hours (overnight and day) the main fire will go out and you should then have a paint can full of the finest charcoal you could hope for, just crush it down to powder.

    Adding sugar to the mix is just adding a CHON fuel to it all. As in Carbon Hydrogen Oxygen Nitrogen. A little will not hurt but too much can throw the mixture off kilter and give unpredicatable results.

    Mixing with urine. Salt petre is actually made by pouring urine into soil and allowing nature to do its chemical factory business. Again Cody’s Lab on Yu Tube shows how to make it if you were in a real post prepper situation and found yourself with no shops to buy it from.

    This black powder mix will indeed simply burn fast and furiously without going bang. If you want bangs you need to tightly enclose the mixture. This allows the resultant gas from the initial ignition to expand with nowhere to go. It then rapidly ignites and bursts its container apart at the weakest point. In the form of a bullet or shell it is the projectile part leaving behind the casing. Think of a muzzle loading rifle where the wad of propellant (black powder) is rammed down into the chamber with the musket ball then rammed into place on top. I believe I have that little lot correct but please forgive an old fellow with ageing memory if I have spoken in error. If I’m incorrect then I stand to be corrected, I’m not too proud to be proven wrong 😉

    Reply to this comment
  27. Rain May 10, 20:57

    another thing to add on my how to become an arsonist to do list

    Reply to this comment
  28. .577 July 8, 16:15

    The being safe and knowing what you are being safe from has several things many people do not even know how to be safe from. For instance: A former powder maker went downstairs and flipped his light switch on. Boom! Burned owner and total house burned up. You should be confining your lights as if in an explosives or chemical room. Put the lamps and sockets inside and insulated cover. Not just the lamps but also the switches where sparks can also be caused. The air you are breathing has micro fine powders as well as heavier powders. It can be the powders you can’t even see that can go off and thus igniting the heavier ones.

    Reply to this comment
  29. Stephen July 22, 19:17

    Just a small comment in how to avoid steps 2 and 3.
    Pass each incredient separately through a blender. Then you will have the 3 ingredients 100 % reduced to fine powder. Proceed with the mixing. In this way no sieving is required and the loss of a fraction of the material used, is avoided !

    Reply to this comment
  30. Jugband July 23, 00:42

    Seiving like this will get a uniform grain size, but doesn’t tell you the granulation?

    The smaller the grain size, the faster it burns.

    For instance, FFFFg powder is used for pan powder in flintlocks.

    You can load 30 grains of FFFg in a revolver and be right on the money.

    Loading 30 grains of FFFFg in it’s place is one of the few ways you can get enough powder into a muzzle-loader to hurt the gun, maybe blow out the chamber(s) of the cylinder.

    So, is this seived powder:
    Superfine (firecracker powder)
    FFFFg (Pan powder)
    FFFg (Pistol powder)
    FFg (Rifle/musket powder)
    Fg (Cannon/Blasting powder)

    Powders are interchangeable to some degree. You can shoot FFFg pistol powder in a rifle, with a somewhat reduced load, and sometimes even get better accuracy.

    You can use FFg in a revolver, but won’t get the velocity or accuracy you want.

    Using a powder of the next slower burn rate will always work safely, but not produce equal velocity,

    But it’s a little important to know what grade of powder you’re stuffing down the muzzle of your muzzle loader.

    And it’s not exact. In one of the episodes of “Sharp’s”, it shows the men running out of powder during battle, and using a book to crush cannon powder down to a useable size.

    All black powder is the same formulation… the only thing that makes it be blasting powder, cannon powder or pistol powder is the size of it’s granules.

    Reply to this comment
  31. Ryan August 27, 20:58

    I have experimented around a lot with different recopies and this is one of the best… liquefying your gunpowder in isotropic alcohol is a must. It takes maybe 30 minutes to dry, and as a result it burns 2-4 times faster.

    Reply to this comment
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