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
- 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
- Potassium Nitrate (Salt Peter) / Stump Remover
- Activated Charcoal
- Powdered Sulfur
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:
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.
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.
Once the potassium is ground add the measured charcoal and sulfur and begin to mix the ingredients thoroughly.
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.
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.
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 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 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!
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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.
Have you tried to use sugar in place of coal or charcoal?
What are you afraid of. Or do you want to eat it as a treat?
This is a very flamable mix called serpentine. Very dangerous to handle. The slightest static spark can ignite it. Black powder making should only be done by the/a wet method.
you mean sulfer not coal or charcoal trust me i just made some
I think Sugar and saltpeter make smoke bombs.
How do you the powder fo different ammunition though? I’m tryna figure out how to make ammo for my 30/30 if you got an answer for me email me at email@example.com plz
This black powder will not work until it is highly compressed and then re-broken into chips.
I’ve made black powder for years and make my own charcoal for fireworks. the info is highly incorrect.
you do need to highly pulverize the powder, then lightly wet it and press it into pucks with a hydraulic press or hydraulic jack then let the pucks dry and then break the pucks into small pieces then grade the pieces with different size screens only then is it acceptable for use in ammunition, and cannons or for lifting arial shells.
Tell typical retail store type that the ingredients may be purchased from.
Home depot for the stump remover.
Garden Sulphur can be used but needs to be purified by adding water to it in a container, shake it up let it settle, then pour off the dirty water and repeat until water is clear. Sulphur will be bright yellow.
or rural kings
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.
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.
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.
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.
your friend is either a naive idiot or a sheltered inexperienced boy(not knowing how the real world works). If in such situation he makes it known that ammo is available then at best he will be raided and relieved of his stock. More likely he would go and make a trade with person X and everything goes smooth, but is told that after testing the ammo may want a bigger order. Few days pass and is informed (who knows how) that the X man wants another trade, yet this time would like the equal to a box of ammo and his friend c the same. they meet. the ammo supplier w/o weapon ammo buyers w gun they make sure ammo is there, and test one round through the head of ammo supplier. HUMANs are CRAP. also have back up.
In the wise words of corey taylor of slipknot., “people equal shit”
Why should anyone want to execute their only source of a supply?
Whatever you are buying / selling / bartering in a SHTF situation, it must be at a public and neutral location. No more or less important if you are trading ammo or seeds.
Do you know why our government seems to be doing nothing to harden the grid ?
Idk, I remember learning something about making potassium nitrate with cow manure,and the sulfur is completely optional.
Any idea why this wouldn’t work? I made a batch and won’t even light?
the wet method is far superior to the dry mix. The dry mix can settle out, and not be as effective. the wet mix will mix better, and retain the mixture consistency when dry. To get consistent grain size use a mesh strainer. When it is dry be careful of static electricity. The old Dupont factories, had loosely fitted boards, and wood floors, and the workers were bare foot. The loosely fitted, or attached boards on the buildings were to make reassembling the building after an explosion, easier. The bare feet kept the static electricity down. Especially in the winter. Must have been fun to work there. There were many explosions, and loss of life. Black powder is classified as a low level explosive. It is still powerful though. Just not like modern explosives with a higher Brisince factors. Like TNT (tri nitrol toulenol) Or C4, Semtec, or binary explosives. The finer the black powder, the easier it is to ignite, and if contained and compressed, the more chamber pressure. As for the sulpher supply in a SHTF scenareo, You might want to stock pile some. Be aware, when sulpher gets wet it creates sulpheric acid. So be aware that black powder is corrosive, and will rust metal, especially stainless! On blued steel it will have powder rust, and light pitting. But on stainless, it will leave substantially deeper pitting. Just not as much powder rust.
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.
That was modern smokeless powder.
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?
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.
That is funny stuff, I am still laughing….too funny. 🙂
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.
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
Do those balls really clang
Black powder is extremely stable and won’t detonate if hit with a hammer and anvil test .
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.
I totally agree!
gring ALL components separately and dampen the mixyure thoroughly before mixing or you could blow your arm off.
I regrind BP granules in an electric coffee grinder. It is not pressure sensitive. It needs spark of flame to get it going.
I don’t hang out too close to the coffee grinder, but no problems in about 30 some-odd sessions. If you have sifted in advance so that there are no chunks of anything all is well
I make fireworks and have made hundreds of pounds of BP. If you are going to use a coffee grinder, do that with the individual ingredients. If you do as you said, you may have a bad day. It takes A LOT of BP to cause an explosion, but it CAN burn very quickly if done well. My BP will remove your eyebrows if you Make a mistake. But almost impossible to make it explode. Try making a fire cracker with BP, you will be disappointed. Trust me, I have done it. Just fizzes….
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.
That is correct, if you substitute potassium nitrate for sodium nitrite you will get a higher quality of powder
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.
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.
You smell like ass.
Nice to know how to make it
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.
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 .
And all the ingredients can be easily purchased at your local hardware store now, so stock up before you need it. That’s what prepping is all about!
Or you could just order all the ingredients from Amazon!
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.
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.
I made black powder when I was a kid. 14 or 15 years old. We used to shoot marbles out of 1/2 inch water pipe held in a vice, outside of course. They would go right thru a 55 gal. drum full of wet ash into the hill side. Used the recipe from an old encyclopedia. 75-15-10. Worked very well. We also made a couple of pipe bombs and blew up my friends dad’s compose heap. Worked very well. The end caps blew off and the pipe split at the seam. His dad said now put it all back in the hole. It was below ground level. It was safe… and fun. Sure can’t do that now. Back then the local cops and neighbors knew we were doing it. We never hurt anyone and didn’t intend to.
Ta bien raisons a l’époque le monde se maillent de leur affaire t’en que personne n’était en danger aujourd’hui le monde est con a 88% voilà pourquoi il y a plus de liberté moi a 11 ans j’avais hériter du calibre 12 de mon grand-père et je marches le bord des chemins a chassé le lièvre et le monde passent avec un sourire…se qui a toutes détruit de la liberté c’est les drogues les jeux vidéo la technologie…demander a un jeune de faire un colles il va répondre je c’est pas…
You can make potassium nitrate with cold packs and water softener salt.
It’s only about 40% efficient but it doesnt produce toxic byproducts.
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.
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
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
@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”
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.
My father had a 45-120 -550 which did not function all that well with standard primers(magnum primers were still in the future) so the solution was too duplex load with 5 grains of Dupont pistol #6 on the primer and 110 grains of FFG black powder, then add enough corn meal so that the powder charge was firmly compressed when the bullet was seated, thus generating a Magnum primer. Loads like this should be stored and carried bullet up to reduce the possibility of the primer charge dispersing away from the primer. Gives full ignition to large powder charges.
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.
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.
@jugband – Just to clarify, it was not Quanah Parker that was shot by Billy Dixon but an unnamed Comanche Chief. Quanah Parker lived to be around 66 years old and didn’t die until 1911.
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.
WarDog; WHY? don’t you understand, not everyone is proficient in typing? Arthritis? Some handicap? just sayin.
Yo WarDog if it’s hard to read without capital letters u should go back to 6th grade just sayin
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.
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”.
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.
U can pick up some sulfur by a gayzer
Dont use activated charcol to make black powder. If it works, even at all, it emits very dangerous gases from the chemicals in it. Use regular charcol it works fine and is reccommended. This article is wrong and i aimt ever using this website for info again. I done spent $6 on activated charcoal
You can’t make a suitable analog to BP without all the ingredients listed. it will burn but the sulfur is the burn modifier that controls the burn and expansion rate the gun needs to not explode
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.
You do not want “activated charcoal” as it is worthless for bp
Charchol is super easy to make for BP AND water filters.
get a metal paint bucket, fill with wood pieces, willow is the fastest burning, charcoal you can make. Put lid on tight Pirce the can with a small hole, then place in a fire
when the small hole quits shooting a flame out of the hole it’s done. you can now make water filters and black powder. You will have to crush and powderize it.
pet shop ,skylighter.com they have 10 lb black powder “kits”
Amazon has everything that you need.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
“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!
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.
BP WILL NOT EXPLODE WITHOUT CONTAINMENT IT WILL NOT ESPECIALLY THIS RECIPE WILL NOT EXPLODE AS IT IS NOT CORNED (HIGLY COMPRESSED AND REBROKEN INTO CHIPS AND GRADED) WE PLACE BP INTO BALL MILLS AND MILL THE DRY FULLY ASSEMBLED POWDER THAT LEAD ORCERAMICK BALLS CRASHINGINTO ONE ANOTHER AND THE MILL DOSE NOT EXPLODE. I DONOT STAND NEXT TO MILL WHEN MILLING.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Who are you criticizing? Your comment does not indicate to whom you are spewing.
Who are you criticizing? Your comment does not indicate to whom you are spewing venom.
I think most of the men on here, should not try making this powder! Based on reading all the posts. lol
Just like handloading ammunition, safety is just a matter of being careful.
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!
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 ,
This is information that they teach in school and can be gotten from any public library. Putting it on this site did not give anyone access to the formula, they could have gotten it anyway. It’s not about “any random psychopath asshole” , it’s about using information responsibly. Same with anything else. Verify that a post is the only accessable source of this info before you criticize someone trying to help those of us who are trying to prepare for the worst.
Morph. Give me a break the psychos aren’t making their own powder and if the wanted to they could find recipes for worse than homemade black powder.
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I made this stuff in highschool. It is much more powerful than black powder and should not be used in muzzle loaders.
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.
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
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.
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 😉
Not bad description. You were pretty close.
Here ya go for an FYI
Measure the powder and then pour the measured powder into the barrel and tamp it down
To shoot a lead ball.
Take a greased piece of cloth (called a Patch) that can either be home made or purchased made for this purpose.
Place the cloth over the muzzle an place the lead ball on top of the patch. use a small rod to push the ball and patch into the barrel then use the loading rod to ram an seat the patch and ball.
i use percussion caps on a CVA Hawkins .50 Caliber.
Pull the hammer back to half cock.
Place the cap on the nipple.
Pull the hammer back to full cock.
Squeeze the set trigger
Then fire the rifle.
There are different type bullets to use some are a sub caliber bullet in a plastic sabot. If memory serves correctly they are self lubricating and do not need the greased patch.
another thing to add on my how to become an arsonist to do list
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.
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 !
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.
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.
Been a long time since I thought of bblack powder, forgot the ratios, thanks.
Glad to see you mentioned water. When I was 10 I got a book called ‘how things work’, or ‘the way things work’. I’m 60 now. It had a couple pages on making gunpowder.
They ‘used’ a variety of metal and wood ball mills, metal and wood balls, not sure which where for doing what. I think the metal ball and can used when the mix is wet.
Whit the mix wet I seem to remember it being pressed into sheet layers between linen to dry.
When dry the sheets were separated and chipped.
Always wanted to try, had the stuff when I was a Boy Scout, made smoke bombs instead.
On can buy Salt Peter and powdered Sulfur and Charcoal at pharmacies……
sulfur can also be used on wounds IF SOMEONE IS NOT ALLERGIC TO Sulfur!
While this thread is active allow me to ask some questions about handling the Black Powder. It is sold in metal cans. Flasks and powder measures are usually Brass. Is Brass the safest? I have heard that Powder horns, made of horn are used because they will not spark. I always use a measure from the flask. Then into the gun. I always wonder how much time to wait to load. Some say leave the hammer down to keep any air from coming in. I keep my head not directly in line as I pour it down the rifle muzzle. By then if it was going to whoosh it would have. I have been safe so far. If I have Any Doubt if there is an obstruction in the barrel I run a rod in to check it. On Revolving Pistol barrels especially. Also do not drink. Best to do it all properly.
I think it is a good idea to study the Designed load. I have shot a Reproduction Colt Navy.36 using as low as 5 grains of powder with round ball to see how low I could go. That is about as loud as a cap noise, but will shoot thru a dry 1″ pine board at 25 YDS. Must check to be sure ball is not left in the barrel.
Good shooting to you all.
This method will only make slow powder.This is my method: Ball mill, soft wood charcoal (willow,balsa,eastern red ceder)are a must. Good potassium nitrate and sulfur. Powders should be ground together with non sparking media for ball mill ie 1/2″ lead balls until powder is like flower. Add 3% dextrin as a binder slowly add water and work into a ball that will hold together(DO NOT OVER WET). Take a kitchen strainer and using a twisting motion granulate it though the strainer! Dry it in sun as fast as possible! I have used this method for my own personal use and put 50grams under 6″diameter ball weighing 465grams(about 1lbs) close to 600″ into the air(out of a HDPE tube)
Trust me ball milling and soft wood charcoal(very easy to make but messy) are the key! Granulation will speed up your powder too it will let flame propagate faster through the powder. GOOD LUCK and be safe!!!!!
P.S.For educational purpose! I assume NO responsibility for what you do!
I’ve seen this “Recipe” many, many times. What never gets mentioned it whether it is by weight or by volume.
I’m not sure about this recipe, but as a chemistry teacher, I know that we use mass, not volume, in the lab.
This formula works fine if yo follow the steps
A few things wrong here.
1 don’t use activated charcoal, it burns much slower than normal charcoal 2 the water does not get the three powders to mingle thoroughly,water is used to make a paste so it can be granulated 3 alcohol will not make it really angry when the fire hits, alcohol same as water is used to make a paste so it can be granulated, The only difference is alcohol evaporates much faster.
As far as I know, most modern firearms do not convert readily from smokeless powder to black powder…
Don’t comment often, but . . .
A friend (after 5 years if trying) talked me into Civil War Reenactment 20 years ago. It was a fad for a while to make our own powder. The powdered sulfur was bought in 50# bags at a Feed & Seed Store. The charcoal was bought in 50# bags at the same place (it was pure hardwood lump charcoal) and we would grind it to a fine powder. The potassium nitrate (powder) was purchased in 10# bags through a pharmacist friend (it can be gotten on Amazon nowadays). We used the same formula (75/15/10). We would then wet it and make what we called bricks (I still have one of the wood molds). Some of the fellas wanted to use urine like we’re told they did back then, but it was slow to dry, smelly, and no one wanted to handle someone else’s urine. One of the fella’s uncle made his own moonshine which was 170 proof. When the uncle found out what we wanted it for he gave us 6 gallons. It dried out quickly and had no smell. We then took our 2”x2”x4” bricks and used screen wire to crate it into 2F powder. We later used a different screen to make 3F for pistols. It was all done outdoors and no smoking allowed within 50 feet. We never had one incident.
Potassium nitrate (KNO3) is not Potassium Nitrite (KNO2). Use the nitrate, which is common stump remover or a hydroponic fertilizer. The sulphur and the charcoal should be very finely ground, able to pass through 100 WPI mesh. The saltpeter (KNO3) can dissolve, so not needing to be so fine. Mix 75 KNO3, 15 C, and 10 S by weight, add water to make a batter, and tumble grind with marbles to very finely powder and mix. Pour into a yogurt tub to settle, tap to remix once per day until it no longer liquifies. Use a knife to drop out the puck, compress in plastic sheeting under the weight of a truck, or something similar, break the puck into 1″ or so chunks, and then let dry, warm in the sun, to keep KNO3 from forming large crystals. When nearly dry, tap to break further, and sift through mesh 20 WPI to 30 WPI. Sift away fine dust, and use that in the next batch – it isn’t a great flash powder. The granulated powder is good for use in muskets, etc.
I have a small, two drum lapidary tumbler which I use for cleaning cartridge cases with corn cob meal media. The drums are made of a fairly stiff rubber compound and the covers are aluminum with a rubber lining. A couple pounds of any of the three ingredients along with a couple pounds of 50 cal. musket balls works very well for milling the ingredients into a fine powder.
Weigh the ingredients for a couple pounds of powder and using the same lead balls use the tumbler to mill the powder mix.
When milling powder mix, use a long extension cord and place the tumbler well away from anything which you value, just in case. I also usually put an old wash tub over it as a scatter shield.
Have never needed it but better safe than sorry.
The finished meal can then be made into dough with water or alcohol and granulated with a screen as in other comments.
My formula from many years ago was 74-16-10
In all that I have read, I haven’t seen protecting your finished powder from he humidity in the air. “Keep our powder dry” was once a real warning, as black powder really absorbs water quickly making it useless. Smokeless powder is coated with either a paper or paint (or both) sealing it away from the air, but black isn’t treated that way.Left Coast Chuck probably knows more about black powder than I do as I use Pyrodex in my .50 inline Legacy rifle. Either the powder or the pre formed “pills” as I call them. I do have several pounds of black powder, but they are old and may not work, or work too well. I also have the .45 Hawkins that one of the Airmen in Star Trek owned with the paperwork proving it, but it will be sold after I drop dead someday. I think the episode in Star Trek was named “Tomorrow is Yesterday” funny thing, the guy was rich, but blew his brains out with his 50AE in his front yard (or so I heard). Nobody who knew him knows why.
I run the individual components through a coffee grinder, separate of course, before mixing them. I then run it through a ball mill with lead balls for a few hours. You can dampen it with a squirt bottle full of rubbing alcohol. When done, I use the squirt bottle to wet it to the consistency where it just holds itself together and compact it into a ball. Run it through a cheese grater over a shallow tray to around 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep. Don’t touch it until it is completely dry. Granulating it allows for a faster burn as there is air space for the flame to travel through the charge, whereas you don’t have this with a super fine “dust”. I don’t have the numbers on top of my head, but you can load shotgun rounds using this powder. I know you can do rifles/pistol as well. You can find out more info on line.
To make explosives, mixing a mixture of sulfur, carbon, and potassium nitrate is a process because they need the right dosage. All it takes is a single spark of static electricity to do the job. The old-timers blended it moist, with stale pee added for an added kick. Make a ball out of the mixture once it has reached the consistency of bread dough. To acquire the correct grain size, rub the dough ball against a screen onto a cookie tray or other flat surface and let dry.