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View Full Version : do you make your own powder?


troy_mclure
January 27, 2010, 06:14 AM
if so where do you buy the supplies from?
what do you shoot it out of?

better than store bought?

horseman308
January 27, 2010, 08:11 AM
Pretty sure it's illegal to do that. I don't know about this forum, but on other sites it's against the rules to even discuss it, given the fact that this is public and you never know who's reading it. Just sayin'.

darkgael
January 27, 2010, 08:51 AM
on other sites it's against the rules to even discuss it
Absolutely forbidden on a number of fora to which I contribute, despite the fact that Google has a lot.
It is a complicated and not particularly safe process requiring a ball mill. The big manufacturers do it in isolated facilities by remote control and even they have problems occasionally.
It is legal.
Here's are links to where legality and quality are discussed: http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-6769.html
http://www.skylighter.com/fireworks/how-to-make/high-powered-black-powder.asp

The quality is usually low. You can buy much better stuff than you can make.
The cost of chemicals and equipment will buy an awful lot of much better commercial BP.
Pete

zxcvbob
January 27, 2010, 09:11 AM
I made a pound of it last year; two 8 ounce batches. I used stump remover for the KNO3, garden sulfur, and homemade white cedar charcoal. Tumbled it dry in a rubber-drummed rock tumbler about 1/3 full of .457 lead balls, then dampened with 70% rubbing alcohol to make a clay and pressed it thru a kitchen wire mesh strainer to make what's called pulvorone. It actually worked pretty well; I think the limitations were the impurities in the stump remover and low density of the pulvorone. I need to find some better potassium nitrate before I try it again. Also I need to add a binder, or press it, because the half pound of the stuff I have left has crumbled back to a fine dusty powder.

The pressing and corning steps to making black powder of the proper density give me the willies. Not sure I'll ever try that.

I shot it in .45 Colt cartridges. Just filled them to the top and pressed/crimped a bullet in place to compress the powder a little. The first time I tried it it didn't work very well because the powder was still too damp even tho' it looked dry. I tried it a month later (the color had changed from black to very dark gray) and it was *much* better.

Chaz88
January 27, 2010, 09:19 AM
Home made powder is not particularly good in firearms. It is good if you make your own fireworks. Much thought and study needs to go into making your own pyrotechnics. It is fun but dangerous. But you will be a hit on the 4th of July.

I am not going to give the formula or procedure. It is not that hard to find. Word of caution, many of the formulas on the NET are a bit off and lead to pore results.

troy_mclure
January 27, 2010, 09:55 AM
ive got several recipes, all in black powder shooting books.

i was just wondering where guys bought the "ingredients", and the quality they got.

Hardcase
January 27, 2010, 10:11 AM
When I was a kid, you used to be able to buy the ingredients at the drugstore...and I'm not that old!

Of course, I didn't have an Internet to get myself in trouble - I had to rely on word of mouth to get that done. And, amazingly, I was capable of causing plenty of it.

Somewhat tangential to the topic, when I was 11 or 12 and firecrackers were still legal, some of my buddies and I decided to drop one through a hole in this steel plate out in front of the old mercantile* shop down the road. We figured that it would be nice and echo-y. In fact, that steel plate was the cover for the fuel storage tank fill tubes. It wasn't exactly echo-y. Fortunately, the place neither blew up nor caught on fire, but the huge spout of flame that blew the steel plate a couple of feet in the air scared the bejesus out of us.

BTW, when I say "my buddies and I decided", what I mean is that I said, "Hey, let's see what happens if I..."

I guess that today I'd be in jail for doing that.


* Not that old, doggone it! It's still the Mercantile, just like it was a hundred years ago.

darkgael
January 27, 2010, 10:20 AM
Troy:i was just wondering where guys bought the "ingredients"

Did you check the links yet?
Pete

Delmar
January 27, 2010, 06:24 PM
I have been using stump remover but it is not the best. Here is a source of KNO3 that is supposed to be pretty good,
http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com/index.asp?Option1=inven&EditU=2&Regit=12&ReturnOption1=new&ReturnEdit=&Returnitemname=&ReturnShowItemStart=

Hi quality sulfur is easy to come up with on Ebay or any of the pyrotechnic websites like skylighter.com

I took down a willow tree this summer, so I am planning to make my own charcoal.

Tom2
January 27, 2010, 06:38 PM
When I was a kid you could buy little bottles of chemicals in hobby shops for chemistry experiments. I bought the ingredients, more or less, and mixed up a small batch of crude powder. I took it to a friends house and we lit fire to it, it burned pretty fast and furious but I did not attempt to take it any further than that, as I recall. No fireworks projects or anything. Even at that age my dull sense of caution won over I guess.

fastforty
January 27, 2010, 07:24 PM
Well, if you asked Captain Kirk, you've find out how fast & easy it is to gather up the materials just laying around on the ground. Even with some weird lizard-man chasing after you, you should be able to put together enough to stop a tank within a few minutes ;)

zxcvbob
January 27, 2010, 07:29 PM
Even with some weird lizard-man chasing after youThe Gorn. (I have no idea why I remember that) :o

B.L.E.
January 27, 2010, 09:14 PM
I played around with making homemade gunpowder during my teenage years, I didn't understand at the time that those ingredients proportions were by weight, not volume so all I got was something that fizzled, made a lot of smoke, and left a puddle of molten salts behind.
In those days, saltpeter was sold in the spice rack of the grocery store, for curing meats.
The local feed store sold powdered sulfur.

Goex, Swiss, Scheutzen, et al make such good powder that is so affordable that I don't see the point of trying to make my own and most likely ending up with an inferior product.
I once developed my own Ektachrome color slide film, but, while successful, it was so much bother that I figured out that letting a lab do it for me was a bargain. Ditto for making my own gunpowder.

Chaz88
January 27, 2010, 09:18 PM
Even with some weird lizard-man chasing after you
The Gorn. (I have no idea why I remember that)

Yep. I watch mith-busters also. Not sure why they had such a hard time getting the proportions correct.

troy_mclure
January 28, 2010, 12:51 AM
Troy:
Quote:
i was just wondering where guys bought the "ingredients"

Did you check the links yet?
Pete
nope, both blocked by my works web blocker.

zxcvbob
January 28, 2010, 01:11 AM
Try setting your DNS servers manually to OpenDNS (208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220). http://www.opendns.com/

That will bypass many web filters.

darkgael
January 28, 2010, 05:40 AM
Troy: Skylighter is a source for very pure components.

Delmar
January 28, 2010, 07:32 AM
The quality is usually low. You can buy much better stuff than you can make.
The cost of chemicals and equipment will buy an awful lot of much better commercial BP. Define "low quality" if you mean by that, it is harder to ignite, that would be a problem. If you mean that you need to use a little more powder, that would be no big deal to some who want to shoot cowboy loads. I make white powder for my .50cal muzzle loader. It's a whole lot of fun. You can always buy commercial when you want to cause thunder!

rattletrap1970
January 28, 2010, 07:57 AM
The only thing I use stump remover for is Niter Bluing. I see absolutely no reason to mess around making your own powder.

Rangefinder
January 28, 2010, 10:39 AM
I'm getting the impression more people are responding to this than actually know much about it. For those that DO know what they're talking about---thanks for helping put out the rumor fires...

A: It's not complicated.

B: It's not illegal

C: Both potassium nitrate and sulfur show up by the pound with a simple little Amazon search.

Yes--I've done it. After working out a good ratio and grain size, I had really good luck with an old .45 caliber smoke pole I had.

zxcvbob
January 28, 2010, 10:57 AM
I once developed my own Ektachrome color slide film, but, while successful, it was so much bother that I figured out that letting a lab do it for me was a bargain.And after having done so, you probably appreciated the film lab a lot more. Plus, if all the film labs went out of business, you could blow the dust off your vats and chemical bottles and you'd know that you could develop your own.

(if you developed your own Kodachrome, I would be *really* impressed :))

Delmar
January 28, 2010, 04:28 PM
And after having done so, you probably appreciated the film lab a lot more. Plus, if all the film labs went out of business, you could blow the dust off your vats and chemical bottles and you'd know that you could develop your own. I think a lot of people underestimate the value of trying something just because you are interested in the process.

Delmar
January 28, 2010, 04:33 PM
I see absolutely no reason to mess around making your own powder. I don't think anyone is trying to convince you that you should.

Rangefinder
January 29, 2010, 02:29 AM
Speaking clearly for myself---I'm a "HOW" type of guy. I am generally not satisfied simply with the knowledge that something works. I like to know how it works---been that way my whole life. It's the same reason I got into metallurgy. I like a nice piece of hand-forged damascus steel in the form of a blade. Is that enough? Nope--I had to learn how to pattern-weld the stuff myself. Fun stuff to play with. Same goes here. It's enough for some to run down to the store and buy a pound of BP to spend an afternoon shooting their muzzle-loader. Fantastic! Have a great time. ME? I like going further. Do I need to? Nope. Do I do it all the time? Nope--I usually use the commercial stuff. But it's fun as hell to use my own batch and get measurable success. My overall objective at some point is to build my own smoke-pole from scratch (not from a kit, mind you---from the ground up). Learning how to make BP is just one small piece of that puzzle. It's fun, and it's rewarding. Is it practical? Depends how you look at it. Knowledge is priceless--I like to keep well-stocked. ;)

I guess that today I'd be in jail for doing that.

:D LOL Yah, I know the feeling... Back in the day when I first started playing with "chemical mixtures", I left a couple pretty good-sized smoking holes out in a rancher's field that drew more attention than I wanted back then--I seem to remember a few broken windows that may or may not have been distantly related to said experiment... Today I'd have an entire BATFE task force hunting me down... How times have changed, huh? :D

darkgael
January 29, 2010, 05:56 AM
I'm a "HOW" type of guy. I am generally not satisfied simply with the knowledge that something works. I like to know how it works---

Yes....understand that way of thinking. It was my whole rationale about making BP when I was doing that. Can I do it? Yes, I can. And now that I know that, I don't but....if I ever have to, the ingredients are on the shelf.
I agree that the recipe is simple and the process, on paper is fairly simple....but...you need a ball mill or something similar (not that a mill is terribly expensive but, then, neither is Goex). And the whole corning process...I found it harder to do than expected; at least, harder for me to get a consistent result.
Pete

robhof
January 29, 2010, 07:57 AM
My brother and I made some back in the 60's. We had a 3/4 bore cannon barrel we got from DGW and we made a carriage from oak for a scout project, got the ingredientd from the chem lab at school and some reading at the local library, took a few batches to get a good boom, but it worked, B/p was around $2.50 a can back then, so we bought after our experiment, we were 12 and 13 at the time.

Chaz88
January 29, 2010, 09:13 AM
I'm a "HOW" type of guy.

I ride that wagon also. It has cost me more than just going and buying things. But I have learned a lot and had a lot of fun along the way. I can forge my own blades, which of course necessitated a few different gas forge designs to work up the best home built version. It was legal in the state I was in at the time. So I learned to make and age my own whiskey and went through a few designs on the best home made still. And so on and so forth......

zxcvbob
January 29, 2010, 10:32 AM
It Couldn't Be Done
by Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

Noz
January 29, 2010, 12:57 PM
http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/81265252.html#

Rangefinder
January 29, 2010, 02:04 PM
NOZ>> I guess I'm missing your point on posting the link. Some older gentleman who made black powder blew himself up one afternoon---so none of us should try making BP? That's like an anti who argues that because someone managed to shoot themselves while cleaning their firearm, none of us should have a firearm--for our own safety, of course.

If you aren't comfortable with that level of experiment for you, no problem--don't bother. But don't fuel gossip and false-facts. Morons wrap their car around poles, trees, bigger cars, etc every hour of every day. But I still drive. Just because making BP is not common doesn't make it more dangerous than a million other widely-accepted practices. ;)

Chaz88
January 29, 2010, 03:42 PM
Just because making BP is not common doesn't make it more dangerous than a million other widely-accepted practices.

I agree. But if you ever blow up the bath tub distilling nitroglycerin at about 1 degree to hot. That is another matter. No it wasn't me...... It was my brother.:)

If I had been home though...

bustoff
January 29, 2010, 11:36 PM
used to buy saltpeter and sulphur at drug store, dads charcoal briquets. 75 ,15, 10 , if i remember correctly were % , its been a long time. we used to make our own fireworks and cannons. iron pipe and steel ball bearings. shot thru a refrigerator.... the folly of youth. :eek:

Model-P
January 30, 2010, 02:22 AM
We are a consumer society now. Just buy everything at the store. Where's the sense of accomplishment in that?

Most kids today are really into their video games, television and baseball. No imagination. I, too, made some small batches of black powder and flash powder when I was a kid. What boy didn't?!

I remember going to the paint supply store for aluminum powder. The owner gave me a sideways glance. What thirteen year old kid was going to mix up a batch of metallic paint with the finest mesh aluminum powder the store had? Didn't matter what mesh, I told him, just the finest you have. Yeah, right, kid. But, he was a kid once himself, and I walked out of there happy as a lark.

I remember when a friend of mine who was into rocketry wanted to home-make a good sized rocket from scratch. He machined the balsa wood nose cone, and found a heavy-duty cardboard tube about four inches in diameter. That tube held one full pound of FFFg black powder. What? You are supposed to make a cake of the powder so it has a controlled burn? What for? Pour that stuff in there! People were running around the track surrounding the football field the afternoon we set her off. 5-4-3-2-1-BOOOOM!!!! Car alarms went off in the distance. Everyone on the track stopped with their jaws open. The field was cloaked in a cloud of white smoke. Needless to say, my friend and I picked up as much evidence as we could in a hurry and hightailed it out of there!

Kids today have no real fun. Too sad.

Rangefinder
January 30, 2010, 10:17 AM
Model-P>>> I could swear you were telling one of my stories.... :D I love it!

Yah, things just aren't what they use to be. The worst part about it is that these days (unlike the days when we were kids and most people hadn't become completely stupid yet) if my kid showed up at the paint store to by aluminum powder and it got out he was making flash powder, it would probably send whistles blowing all the way to DC and both me and my kid would be charged with domestic terrorism. Sad... Flash powder is really fun stuff, too! :D

Noz
February 1, 2010, 05:10 PM
Rangefinder,
I have read all about handling rattlesnakes and I'm sure I can do it.

I have driven for 65 years and know how to drive at speed. I'm sure I can drive my Dodge pickup at 120 miles an hour.

I am an amateur juggler and I can juggle most anything. I'm sure I could juggle 8" chainsaws.

I can load 5 in a 6 shot revolver, spin the cylinder, stick it in my mouth and pull the trigger.

I can make my own black powder.

But I don't!

If that makes me a cowardly wuss in your opinion then so be it. There is a reason that all black powder is made in facilities that use robotic labor and each stage is widely seperated from all the others.

Delmar
February 1, 2010, 05:27 PM
Most people who have made their own BP have lived to tell about it. Most people who have done this...I can load 5 in a 6 shot revolver, spin the cylinder, stick it in my mouth and pull the trigger....have not.

darkgael
February 1, 2010, 10:15 PM
There is a reason that all black powder is made in facilities that use robotic labor and each stage is widely seperated from all the others.

Good point. You only have to be wrong once with this stuff.
Pete

Rangefinder
February 1, 2010, 10:27 PM
I have read all about handling rattlesnakes and I'm sure I can do it.

I have driven for 65 years and know how to drive at speed. I'm sure I can drive my Dodge pickup at 120 miles an hour.

I am an amateur juggler and I can juggle most anything. I'm sure I could juggle 8" chainsaws.

I can load 5 in a 6 shot revolver, spin the cylinder, stick it in my mouth and pull the trigger.
NOZ>> Here is the problem with nonsensical noise such as this: even if you do happen to make a valid point somewhere within all this prattle, I'd probably miss it because of everything else. What's more, it's really difficult to respect even a valid point you might make when you come up with this kind of reply.

I can make my own black powder.

But I don't!

If that makes me a cowardly wuss in your opinion then so be it.
Since you obviously didn't read my post directed to you before but instead decided to get huffy at the notion someone called you to the platform on an obvious drive-by post, I'll repeat myself.
If you aren't comfortable with that level of experiment for you, no problem--don't bother. But don't fuel gossip and false-facts.

There is a reason that all black powder is made in facilities that use robotic labor and each stage is widely seperated from all the others.

Yes--primarily for mass-production reasons. But I'm sure there is an insurance clause and liability factor involved in there somewhere. ;) Last time I checked, my shop isn't exactly set up to produce several tons of BP per day--but I handle a pound or two at a time rather well. With all due respect--Please--either contribute something useful to the discussion on whichever side you want to support, or simply move along. Making noise does not substantiate an argument.

Model-P
February 2, 2010, 12:34 AM
There is a reason that all black powder is made in facilities that use robotic labor and each stage is widely seperated from all the others.

Yep. It's called V-O-L-U-M-E. And volume = increased danger.
I only made maybe half a cup of mediocre chemistry set type black powder (not granulated) as a kid, but I can't imagine why making half a pound at a time using the proper methods would be such a fright. I take it the ones who keep posting all the scare comments have never made any BP...ever. Am I close to being right?;)