View Full Version : Nitrating paper by dissolving smokeless?

June 22, 2010, 11:52 AM
Anyone tried this stunt?
Supposedly you dissolve a little single-base smokeless powder in acetone, soak the rag fiber paper & allow to dry.:eek:

June 22, 2010, 12:27 PM
I stopped blowing my eyebrows off when I was about 19. What's it for?

June 22, 2010, 12:33 PM
It's said to act as a binder or glue for the paper when constructing paper cartridges and for enhancing the combustion of the paper.
The solution can simply be brushed on to the paper

June 22, 2010, 12:34 PM
It's also known as water glass, they used them to seal paper shotgun shells.

Jim Watson
June 22, 2010, 01:18 PM
Water glass is sodium silicate, not the same stuff and not flammable.

June 22, 2010, 02:51 PM
This is definitely supposed to be flammable!
As he said it's to fabricate paper cartridges for BP shooting.

The nitrating is to make the paper rapidly & completely combustible, rather than having to wet swab between loads to clear smoldering fragments that could ignite the next powder charge while loading.

I did not know of the glue function though, thanks.:cool:

Hawg Haggen
June 22, 2010, 04:38 PM
All you need is tea bags. They're pretty tough and burn completely. Don't even have to prick them, the caps will blow thru them.

June 22, 2010, 05:09 PM
All you need is tea bags

You got a "How to" on that for a .44 pistol load with RB & a wad:confused:

Hawg Haggen
June 22, 2010, 05:25 PM
Not with a wad. I use flo thru bags cut along creases. You can get more from each bag with more precise measuring but I'm too lazy. Run a thin strip of Elmers glue along one end and wrap around middle of ball. I have a dowel slightly smaller than a .44 ball with one end cupped so ball stays put. Wrap paper around dowel and glue. Slide it off and when it dries fill with pre measured charge. Twist or fold end and tie off with thread. Cut off excess and you're done.

June 22, 2010, 05:55 PM
Someone talked about mixing acetone with smokeless powder to make water glass a while back. They didn't imply that it was flammable, it was just to act like a glue to hold the overshot wad in place and to seal it. During the drying process, the acetone evaporates, leaving behind a chemical compound to act as a bonding an sealing agent. It just moves along. I guess an old timer who reloaded his brass or paper hull shotgun shells would have a jar of water glass handy to glue his paper cartridges too.

Mixing potassium nitrate and hot water is a different thing, though. That's what makes flash paper flash. :)

I use rolling papers. I rely on the rammer to crack it open in the cylinder. I make them tapered so the powder end goes in smooth. I had one delayed shot the first time I ever used them. They work okay for me ever since without pricking them.

4V50 Gary
June 22, 2010, 08:49 PM
Thank you Hawg for the tea bag suggestion.

June 22, 2010, 09:25 PM
Another sausagegravyandbaconoverbiscuitswithscrambleseggsandcheese thread full of WIN!:cool:

June 22, 2010, 09:56 PM
Thank you Hawg for the tea bag suggestion.

I agree, but what do you do with the tea ;)

WildlookapoemAlaska TM

June 23, 2010, 05:17 AM
Depending on the amount of smokeless powder added to a small volume of acetone, the solution will become syrupy.
What I read mentioned to just mix up a teaspoon full.

June 23, 2010, 06:47 AM
I agree, but what do you do with the tea

Anything but pay tax on it.

Hawg Haggen
June 23, 2010, 03:56 PM
I agree, but what do you do with the tea

I use cheap tea and throw it out.

June 23, 2010, 07:33 PM
I use cheap tea and throw it out.

Do ya put on warpaint first :)

WildandtraveltobahstonAlaska ™

June 23, 2010, 11:19 PM
Hawg Haggen,
Have you ever used recycled teabags?
Just curious.

Hawg Haggen
June 24, 2010, 03:18 AM
No to warpaint and no to recycled.

June 24, 2010, 10:22 AM
Thanks, Hawg, I'll give that a try.
As for the flammability of re-dried dissolved smokeless it is, it really is (trust me).:eek:
As for the glue aspect I have yet to test that.

Andy Griffith
July 5, 2010, 12:53 AM
There are much simpler ways to do it and not as dangerous or as expensive...


Order some "tea bag paper"- not the decorative kind, but the kind to actually make a tea bag out of (I personally haven't tried this).

Or, get some "onion skin paper" which is very, very thin paper- just a bit thicker than rolling papers. Make certain it is 100% cotton bond- it burns clean.

Then, just soak the tea bag or onion skin papers in a water/saltpeter solution and then let dry. This is a much safer way to make more combustible cartridges.

As for using acetone to dissolve the single base smokeless powder is literally playing with dynamite. Do you remember the John Wayne movie The War Wagon where they took the bridge out with nitroglycerin? Although this wouldn't be quite the same- the acetone would liberate the nitroglycerin compounds from the cellulose base and make it unstable- don't drop or rattle the jar! Once you had the paper soaked, you'd have a form of guncotton, which has been known to spontaneously ignite. Also, there is no way to judge how much nitro was soaked into the paper that you used to make the cartridges- and it could (but may be a long shot) increase the pressures dangerously.

July 5, 2010, 01:41 AM
There is no nitroglycerin in single base smokeless powder.

Michael Grace

Hawg Haggen
July 5, 2010, 02:11 AM
Then, just soak the tea bag or onion skin papers in a water/saltpeter solution and then let dry. This is a much safer way to make more combustible cartridges.

Why soak it if you don't need to?

Andy Griffith
July 5, 2010, 09:51 AM
Why soak it if you don't need to?

Some people do...I don't know- it's above my pay grade. ;)
I've never tried the onion skin paper unsoaked- I guess I will now.

Hawg Haggen
July 5, 2010, 11:55 AM
I havent tried onion skin but tea bags work really well

July 5, 2010, 05:33 PM
Hey Hawg . . . . . just curious . . . what do you recommend for the type of tea bags . . . . green tea or old English? Green tea is supposed to be really good for you . . . . . . :D

Interesting concept I have to admit! I'd never heard of it before but those bags are tough and I'm sure they make a nice cartridge. My only problem is the look I'm going to get from my wife if I start cutting up the tea bags and throwing the tea away . . . . she already thinks I'm nuts at times . . . which I probably am! :D

Hawg Haggen
July 5, 2010, 06:42 PM
Green tea is yucky. I use cheap flow thru bags.

July 5, 2010, 06:52 PM
Why do you want to go to all that trouble? Just use cigarette paper. Either way you are not historically correct, now don't SHOOT ME cause I'm working from memory but the original stuff was gutta peche or some similar sounding term- basically nitrated fish gut. So I'd just use cigarette paper and be happy :D.

Hawg Haggen
July 5, 2010, 07:09 PM
Cigarette paper is flimsy and expensive compared to tea bags even if you dump the tea. Plus it needs to be nitrated to burn clean

July 6, 2010, 05:58 PM
If you're talking about "gutta purcha" . . . . that is what a lot of the tintype cases with patriotic motifs were made out of during the Civil War years and later . . . . . it's like a thermal plastic composition. Referred to as "gutta purcha cases". A number of buttons were even constructed from it. I believe it was technically a "thermo set" composition. I'm no expert, but I believe that combustible cartridges were made from nitrated papers and I have also heard references to "skin cartridges" - which I think were made from natural products . . . . not unlike some of the vintage "condoms". I also remember seeing some original cartridges for the Smith carbine where the tubes were made from "gutta purcha". The paper wrapped cartridges that were issued in the Civil War for the .58 caliber and similar muskets were not combustible as many folks think. They contained the powder charge and the minie ball. The "tail" was torn off my the teeth (much like paper wrapped cartridges were in previous years for the smoothbore muskets) which exposed the powder which was then introduced into the bore. The minie ball was then pushed out and introduced into the bofre and then rammed. These paper wrapped cartridges were issued in "Arsenal Packs" of ten with about every 3rd round being a "Williams Cleaning Bullet" which had a zinc waser whick in theory, would scrape the fouling from the barrel on the way out. Many of the soldiers thought that these made the musket kick more and they would discard them. Included in the Arsenal Pack was a quantity of 13 musket caps rolled up in paper which were to be put into the cap box on the belt. I have and original "roll" of these caps and the paper is much like what we would know as typing paper. I bought a pack of nitrated paper from a magic supply store years ago but never had much luck with them. They were "wet" and were supposed to be kept in the refrigerator. I dried them out but I was all thumbs in trying to make cartridges out of them for my '51 Navy. It's too bad that someone doesn't come up with a way of producing the tapered paper tubes out of cigarette papers or similar which would combust upon discharge. I think that there would be a good market for them and make it a lot easier without a lot of screwing around to make cartridges for the BP pistols. Or better yet, some type of an "easy roller" (much like the old cigarette rollers) that would save on the handwork of using a dowel, etc. I know . . . I know . . . I'm getting lazy in my old age! This is an interesting thread and enjoyable to read about what some of you have come up with! Many thanks! :)

July 6, 2010, 06:19 PM
There is a kit out there that comes with nitrated papers and a tapered dowel, but you still have to roll them yourself. Dixie used to sell the kit, but now all they have is a kit for a Sharps rifle and extra nitrated papers for that kit.

Whoo! 100 sheets for $37.95 http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?cPath=22_99_316&products_id=8218

July 6, 2010, 07:26 PM
Well to me at least the cigarette paper seems pretty cheap. On the gutta..whatever. I ran across Sam Colt's original patten at a local depository of patten records but as I said I couldn't quite remember all the details. I know that Colt started with tin- the percussion cap was powerful enough to burst through the tin but the residue in the chambers was excessive so Colt switched materials. I think there was a small wad of some sort behind the bullet and over the powder. I also recall that explosions at the plants making these cartridges did occur on several occasions- pretty much wiping out the work staff.
And.... although seldom used, there was a very small amount of combustible cartridges used in the Civil War for muskets. The Yankees used them and at the first fight the Rebels couldn't figure out how the Yankees could be shooting so fast BUT (if I recall correctly) the fouling was again bad and they were never used much.
PERSONALLY I would NEVER use a combustible cartridge in a musket. A cap and ball revolver is different because you can look in the chamber to see if there is any fouling (i.e. embers) but such can't be done on a musket.
AND.... I do a certain amount of buckskinning and there are references to mountain men rubbing some powder on a rag and using such with a flint and steel to start a fire so the use of powder in that capacity seems historically valid to some degree.

July 6, 2010, 08:33 PM
davem - I've heard of the firestarting using BP as well. I can start a fire pretty fast with a flint and steel if I have DRY char and tinder. I can only imagine the problems though in doing it in a snowstorm or rainy weather. I would think that the BP would be just the ticket as long as you didn't use too much and char your eyebrows as well! :D During the Civil War there were so many "new ideas" and "better ideas" that had Pantents applied for that I think if would really be interesting to be able to sit back and watch them demonstrated. As far as combustible cartridges for the revolvers, they obviously were available and used. It's too bad that there isn't an abundance of "first person" documentation available for the average "Joe Blow" that tells just what they did use. I'm not talking about Army issue . . . . I've always wondered just how "available" combustible cartridges were in regards to the settlement of the West and the average pioneer . . . in regards to availability and affordability. I've got to think that a good number of them cast their own balls and loaded from a flask when it came to their revolvers - whatever make they were lucky enough to have or afford the same way that they cast their own balls and used their hunting pouches to load their muzzle loading rifles. Unfortunately it's something we'll probably never have a clearcut answer on as there just aren't than many primary resources that exist that tell those sorts of things. Most of us that enjoy this hobby have a number of pistols, rifles and smoothbores. Some of the guys really become good shots with them . . . all you have to do is watch at Friendship. For myself, I probably couldn't hold a candle to my forefathers as I try to shoot too many different types of guns. I don't think that many of our forefathers had that luxery and as they say . . . "beware of the man who shoots just one gun". I have a feeling that they could serve me up a large slice of "humble pie". :D

July 6, 2010, 11:14 PM
BBB:I think I read in Rosa's Gunfighters that Hickok used a lot of combustible cartridges for target practice and the town fathers had to foot the bill and were getting pretty tired of the expensive. That said, from what I've seen on a Navy 36- like Hickok carried, the combustibles carried a 17 grain charge whereas with powder-ball-grease you can cram in about 25 grains fffg if you really try. What's more, the balls back then still had a sprue- today we use perfectly round balls but that flat sprue- if loaded forward- was sort of like a semi-wadcutter and hit harder than the conical bullets. The conical bullets in the combustible cartridges were also poorly shaped with hardly any base- so they could twist out of line while being ramrod into the chamber- not good for accuracy. In any event, from what I could learn, any gunfighter loaded from a flask and used balls and carried a packet of the combustible ammo for emergency back up shots if needed.