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barefootskater5000 PowerDork
1/19/22 3:00 p.m.

Apparently there's interest here, so I'll start a thread. 


Also, if our hosts deem this inappropriate, please, nuke the thread. 


Understand that I am not a professional, I'm going off instructions from several sources including the manufacturer of the chemicals I'll be using. If you've done this before and see me doing something wrong or unsafe, CALL ME OUT. 
Also, do not take what I say as gospel. This is a learning experience for me. I am no chemist.


Now that's said, here we go. 
Black powder. The organic stuff. This is messy, smelly, corrosive, and a whole lot of fun. 
You may ask why I'm bothering, since pyrodex and triple 7 are synthetic substitutes and both are readily available. The reason is because I want to learn how, and because my flintlock can't use the synthetic substitutes due to higher ignition temps and slower burn rates. The last US manufacturer of BP shut its doors in September and best I can figure is the import stuff won't be available for several months. Coupled with the going rates of $30/lb, I've decided to roll my own. 

The ingredients are simple enough: charcoal, sulfer, and potassium nitrate (saltpeter). I'll not give the mixture here, but it is easily available with a quick google. I ordered my chemicals from https://www.skylighter.com/ $52 plus shipping gets you 10lbs worth. Included in the kit is a bag of dextrin but this should not be used for powder used in firearms, as it will cause excessive fouling and result in ignition issues. 
 There are several methods of mixing, but the one I'm using and recommending is tumbling. The media will fully powderize and mix the ingredients. Most folks recommend using hardened lead shot for media in the tumbler, but I can't find anyone with stock, so I used marbles. DO NOT USE STEEL OR ROCKS! RISK OF SPARKS COULD CAUSE EXPLOSION! Regular lead shot will result in lead dust in your mixture, this is not ideal. 

Rotary tumbler. FIL granted me the use of his HF rotary tumbler. Skylighters recommends the same unit (which they sell at a higher price) and  they include instructions to alter the operating rpm. I've not done this, and most folks I talk to or read/watch make no mention of it. Since we use this tumbler for cleaning brass and other things on the regular, I elected not to muck with it. 


Everything I've found and the one local old timer I've talked to say that more time tumbling is better. 10-12 hours is ideal. This is where I am currently. I set the machine up outside and away from the house and anything flammable and let it run all night. Local temps were in the low 40s which shouldn't matter but the cold made me a little more comfortable. 

The resulting mix is is a HIGHLY COMBUSTIBLE fine powder, about the same consistency/texture as talcum powder. PLEASE WEAR GLOVES AND BREATHING PROTECTION. 

I measured out my raw ingredients inside but the rest of the process will be completed outdoors. Still, breathing protection and gloves and eye protection. 

Let's make putty. Traditionally water is used for this step, but most will recommend isopropyl alcohol. In a disposable container mix the powder by adding small amounts of fluid until the mixture is about the consistency of modeling clay or play dough. 

Commercial powder is then put through a process called corning which will result in a denser mixture. This process requires about 12 tons of pressure and I do not have the stones to attempt compressing this stuff at home. 
Most of the math says uncompressed powder requires about 12% higher charge to achieve the same muzzle velocity. I can live with that, and come on, folks were making powder hundreds of years ago and it worked just fine. I'm willing to bet that if revolutionary farmers could turn out a usable product then so can I. 

Once you have putty, it needs granulated. Anyone familiar with gunpowder of any flavor should be aware of the different shapes and sizes of powder granules. I'll be aiming for something between ff and fff. An eyeball guess and zero experience saw the purchase of a kitchen strainer that I think will do nicely. The powder putty is then grated through the strainer and onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and set in the sun to dry thoroughly. 

Once dry it should be ready for a test against some commercial stuff. A small amount in a safe area, and BE CAREFUL. It should burn almost instantly. 


That's what I've got and hopefully this weekend I can granulate my powder and test the burn rate. If it looks good, I'll move on to testing it in my rifle. 

I'll post progress and pictures as I'm able. 

slefain PowerDork
1/19/22 3:07 p.m.

Looks like I missed a step:

matthewmcl HalfDork
1/19/22 3:09 p.m.

Woo Hoo! Cool!

barefootskater5000 PowerDork
1/19/22 3:28 p.m.

Of note, I mentioned that commercial powder seems to be about $30/lb and is currently unobtainable. Ingredients and shipping and consumables and I should be comfortably below $10/lb and less if I make more. 

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/19/22 3:28 p.m.

(sarcasm)Pfft.....you aren't even making your own charcoal and saltpeter?!?! Do you even black powder bro? (/Sarcasm)


Seriously though, this is cool

barefootskater5000 PowerDork
1/19/22 3:34 p.m.

In reply to Antihero (Forum Supporter) :

I'd like to try eventually. And since I'm in Utah, I could conceivably find a sulfer deposit/abandoned mine and source that organically too. 
Once I have the process down and I'm comfortable in my ability, I plan to try sourcing wild ingredients. 

1988RedT2 MegaDork
1/19/22 3:54 p.m.

Very cool.  Enjoy!

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
1/19/22 3:55 p.m.

My tinnitus has black powder and pink rock to thank. 

there was a time when I would have 4lbs under my bed(goex). Dunno why I stored it under my bed.  My dad and I would spend evenings rolling cartridges.  

1988RedT2 MegaDork
1/19/22 3:56 p.m.

In reply to Fueled by Caffeine :

I never figured you for a "pink rock" kind of guy. cheeky

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/19/22 4:06 p.m.

Super useful to know, just in case you find yourself stuck on a planet with a Gorn.



barefootskater5000 PowerDork
1/19/22 4:11 p.m.

In reply to codrus (Forum Supporter) :

I've thought about that scene a lot while learning about this. Classic stuff. 

1/19/22 4:12 p.m.

Make a wet paste of this stuff in like a pie pan and when you light it it makes the most amazing smoke screen. 

As a kid making loud noises, this was fun until I discovered Oxy-Acetylene balloons.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
1/19/22 4:34 p.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

Pink salt.  It's the new drug 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/19/22 4:56 p.m.
slefain said:

Looks like I missed a step:

Just say no to ACME tumblers. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/19/22 10:11 p.m.

Reminded me of this:

Must See: Homemade Gunpowder Backfire! | Military.com  (sorry, won't embed)

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/19/22 11:29 p.m.

I was going to add this to the meme thread, but it sort of fits here. 

M2Pilot Dork
1/20/22 12:10 a.m.
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) said:

I was going to add this to the meme thread, but it sort of fits here. 

We used to do that to some extent. My uncle blew up a lot of stumps in a pasture on our farm that we were changing to row crops.

I had a 2nd cousin who was missing a thumb because of a blasting cap mishap while he was farming with dynamite.

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/20/22 6:08 a.m.

Do you want to get flagged and tracked by the FBI and ATF? Because this is how you get flagged and tracked by the FBI and ATF...

akylekoz SuperDork
1/20/22 6:29 a.m.

I was going to try this but I'm all petered out from car projects.

barefootskater5000 PowerDork
1/20/22 10:10 a.m.

In reply to Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) :

Eh. If there's a list I'm already on it. 
Brings up a good point though. Federally, this is perfectly legal. In fact, ATF doesn't consider muzzle-loading firearms to even be firearms. They can be purchased and shipped with no paperwork or backgrounds to anyone over 18. If you're curious why, I encourage you to find someone to take you out and learn to shoot one; it's messy and slow and requires a lot of practice and patience to be able to hit a target at even modest range, and most folks would be more deadly with a red rider air rifle. Some states do regulate them though so make sure you check your local laws and regulations. 

Datsun310Guy MegaDork
1/20/22 10:16 a.m.

A kid I hung out with in 5th grade discussed making our own GP.  We researched the ingredients at our library.  

Almost 50 years later I still remember him telling me that evaporating a gallon of gas in a room is like blowing off 2 sticks of dynamite.  Sounded cool in 5th grade.  

KyAllroad MegaDork
1/20/22 10:25 a.m.
akylekoz said:

I was going to try this but I'm all petered out from car projects.

Sounds like you already have one of the ingredients then. 

(sorry, that was bad and I feel bad for saying it)

barefootskater5000 PowerDork
1/20/22 10:27 a.m.

In reply to Datsun310Guy :

As a kid I was convinced that I could put gasoline and a candle wick in the ice tray and freeze my own firecrackers. Then I had to explain to my mom why the kitchen smelled like the garage and everything in the freezer was wasted. 

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/20/22 10:46 a.m.

In reply to barefootskater5000 :

Oh it's not firing a black powder rifle that will get in the list, it's the ability to combine black powder with other compounds to do things. (that I won't go into, because of said list) but yeah, the ability to make your own creates opportunity 

barefootskater5000 PowerDork
1/22/22 7:07 p.m.

Filler post so the cool stuff starts at the top of the page. 

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