View Full Version : Nitrated Cartridge Paper
February 10, 2011, 01:30 PM
I see a lot of Sharps owners and shooters here. I am trying to locate a source of nitrated (flash) paper to build cartridges for my reproduction Sharps rifle and carbine. Or, where can a person buy nitrate to make their own 'flash' paper. Since 9/11, this kind of stuff has gotten practically impossible to find for purchase. Or, am I looking in all the wrong places?
Also, does anyone make a bullet mold for .54 Sharps at an affordable price? If so, who?
I'm new to this forum and, new to breech loader b/p guns. I've had and used 'front loaders' for a good number of years, both percussion and flintlock, but I'm a newbie with a breechloader. Please bear with me.
February 10, 2011, 01:44 PM
i have read that many shooters make their own by first finding a beauty salon supply shop where they purchase perm papers used when a lady gets her hair permed.
some shooters soak these papers in zippo liter fluid then let dry or just use them plain.
if you are shooting them from a paper cutter sharps closing the breech will slice off the back to expose the B.P. so i don't see any reason to make them more combustable....though some feel the need.
i'm gonna use them with making self combustable paper cartridges for b.p. revolvers. i have read that the ammo was made this way when these revolvers were in use.
hope this helps.
February 10, 2011, 01:59 PM
Sewerman: Thanks for getting back so soon on my nitrated paper question. Yes, both my Sharps are papercutters, just like Sharps are supposed to. My main concern is having a smoldering peice of paper in the chamber and/or barrel when I slip the next cartridge in. I don't want it blowing back in my face, if you know what I mean. Local tobacco shop came up with a supposedly 'nitrated' paper, but when I lit a small peice of it with a match, it burned about like tissue paper. It was awfully thin/flimsy and would likely be prone to tearing/ripping for any number of reasons, so I shied away from it. Nonetheless, thanks for idea of using used hair roller papers. I seem to remember them from my ex- and they were a bit heavier. I wonder if using them would turn the powder smoke blonde or brunette or redhead?
February 10, 2011, 02:08 PM
Dixie carries a paper cartridge making 'kit' and just the precut papers as well. It aint cheap; but it's convenient.
February 10, 2011, 02:30 PM
shiloh sharps sells a device called a blow tube and i think it is used to rid the chamber of an smoldering debris in the chamber before inserting a new cartridge.
wonder what then cowboy did? no wonder the indians had an advantage with the fast shooting bows & arrows over the muzzle loaders & some what faster breech loaders. i guess the metallic cartridges provided the fronterisman an edge.
i know muzzle loaders blow down the barrel just to be sure before dropping powder.
February 10, 2011, 02:53 PM
Paper can be nitrated at home using Potassium Nitrate (saltpeter).
Here's some threads that include how to make it:
February 10, 2011, 04:05 PM
I asked at a couple places where/how to purchase potassium nitrate and they look at me like I'm a blonde-haired, blue-eyed A-rab terrorist! I'll keep looking. I'd heard about stump killer being mostly potss-nitrate, but the labels I looked at in Home Depot didn't say so. If you know of a particular brand name, please let me know. That's for answering my question.
February 10, 2011, 04:16 PM
If you ask for saltpeter they may not look at you so strangely. :D
February 10, 2011, 04:25 PM
I am thinking of doing the same thing. I just searched and WOW, Amazon has it
I found replica combustable cartridge boxes here, in case you are interested
February 10, 2011, 05:44 PM
Kind of negative, but these "Kitchen sink" formulas for nitrating paper do not work. (Trust me on this):D
Dissolving single base powder in acetone to make a nitrating paint = FAIL!
Using any cigarette paper currently made = FAIL.
Many "stump rotter/killer" chemicals = FAIL.
Searching for "magic shops" & then "flash paper" was my best, but most expensive bet.:o
February 10, 2011, 10:11 PM
Hello, popa59hd. I have been making nitrated ctg.'s since 1969..started with a Navy Arms .36 1851 navy Colt. I have a Shilo Sharps percusssion 1863 .45 rifle (Farmingdale) that I have used them in sine 1977. Just make a super-saturated solution...add enough salts in very hot water until you see undesolved particles in bottom of container..dip your paper in this & let dry..If your using the real P.N. have no fear...it will burn! If your afraid of smouldering paper remains in chamber..you can glue up some heaver paper & glue the thin nitrated to bottom of tube..when fired, just reach in with pinky & pull out remains. These are alot more rugged to haul around. One thing about the paper-cutting..I always had better acuracy if ctg. was flush with end of chamber..no cutting..no spilled powder for consistancy. Best of luck!
February 10, 2011, 11:55 PM
I made 36 cal paper cartridges years ago with cigarette papers dipped in saturated KNO3 solution (stump remover). I made it a point to either break open the end to dump a little powder into the chamber first or to take a nipple pick to pierce the paper before capping. I also carried a small pair of tweezers to remove remnants of paper from the chambers before reloading if it was there. I can remember fairly often getting popBOOM delayed ignitions so I have since gone to just loose powder, wad & ball. I think every C&B owner thinks seriously about or up and does roll their own paper cartridges which is kinda fun but eventually you go back to the old powder flask. It's fun and entertaining if you have the spare time which I had in my younger days but not any more.
February 11, 2011, 02:27 AM
If you look at the antique pistol paper cartridges, you will note that they have a long tail that is folded up along side the cartridge. I assume that the intent was that you'd rip of the end of the cartridge and toss it before dumping the powder in the chamber, thus eliminating any excess paper and ensuring prompt ignition.
February 11, 2011, 02:58 AM
The Colt "skin" cartridges didn't have any tail. These were nitrated animal intestines.
February 11, 2011, 02:59 AM
The note about the "tail" of the pistol cartridges reminded me of something: This does not apply to pistol cartridges but the recollection came to mind that Civil War infantry soldiers had to have few or no front teeth missing or they would be rejected because they would be unable to bite & tear open the paper cartridges used in the rifled muskets.
February 11, 2011, 07:39 AM
You don't need teeth to open a cartridge. It might be more convenient but not necessary. I use tea bags, no nitrating or tearing necessary.
February 11, 2011, 01:03 PM
hellgate, liked your fronteirsman catagory explaination....:)
that is true about pulling your front teeth for deferment during the war of southern independence.
probably happened previously during the American revolution too and handed down .
this only was for musket & rifled musket cartridges....
most breech loaders & pistols used combustible cartridges also called self consuming,
loved that explaination..... that's the one i'm going for!
February 11, 2011, 01:32 PM
I've had no problem using stump rot to make nitrating solutions, both for paper cartridges and for the match for a matchlock.
Some stump rots are not KNO3, though. They're something else that doesn't work.
February 11, 2011, 01:40 PM
the stump rot I used was almost all Potassium nitrate but it was formed into balls with some gooey colloid. I mixed it with hot water, strained it through clouth and let the liquid dry. I called what precipitated out KN02.
February 11, 2011, 07:13 PM
To avoid all the mess and problems with making your own nitrating paper, just go to a party supply or magic store and ask for "flash" paper.
Years ago around 1986 I had (still have) one of those little battery powered glo plug devices that fit between the fingers. You would put flash paper in the tube of it and then press the button that allowed the little glo plug to get electricity from the battery which ignited the flash paper. It was fun at parties.
I bought my flash paper for it from a magic shop in St Petersburg Fl.
A couple of times instead of just tearing off a little piece of paper for the hand tube device, I tried lighting the whole 8x10 sheet just to see what it would do.
Whoooosh! Totally gone without a trace and no glowing ember in about 1 second.
Naturally I decided to try to use this same flash paper to make black powder revolver paper cartridges. I cut them to length and width and wrap them around a wooden dowel just a little smaller than the cylinder chamber. Then secure their top and bottom with just a teeny touch of clear fingernail polish. They worked perfectly and leave no glowing ember or tiny bits of paper like cigarette paper does.
The flash paper is a bit pricey, but 5 or so sheets of it will load a lot of paper cartridges.
That's my experience anyway.
February 11, 2011, 09:06 PM
Tea bags are the way to go. They're tougher, burn clean and caps blow through them.
February 12, 2011, 03:23 AM
Weren't the Colt skins cartridges only for rifles? I haven't seen them any other way....
February 12, 2011, 09:27 AM
"Weren't the Colt skins cartridges only for rifles? I haven't seen them any other way...."
Nope, revolver as well.
Colt also offered revolver cartridges with powder that was coated with colloidon. Ramming the cartridge into the chamber broke the colloid layer and allowed the round to fire.
February 12, 2011, 10:52 AM
They made foil cartridges too.
February 12, 2011, 07:21 PM
If anybody's interested, I found an interesting procedure for manufacturing potassium nitrate -
I tried it, and it really works. Using a $2 box of Kroger Instant Cold Packs (8.6 oz ammonium nitrate) plus 21 oz water and 8 oz of potassium chloride (water softener salt), I got 4.7 oz of raw potassium nitrate.
I don't know how pure it is. So far, I tested it by mixing it 50/50 with table sugar and putting a match to it - it burned very nicely, just like the store-bought potassium nitrate.
February 14, 2011, 02:44 AM
Thanks for the reference Mike. Did y'all notice that the 44 cal. cartidge carried only 18 grains of hazard's powder?
May 28, 2011, 02:53 PM
Hawg, where do you find tea paper? I've searched the Internet a bit and I find most are pre folded into pouches. Is the tea paper you use flat or do you undo the pouches?
May 28, 2011, 03:20 PM
I buy a box of cheap tea in flow thru bags and undo them.
May 31, 2011, 07:10 AM
Coffee filters are almost the exact same type of paper as tea bags, so they should work just fine.
May 31, 2011, 07:27 AM
"Coffee filters are almost the exact same type of paper as tea bags, so they should work just fine."
Now that is interesting I have been using cigarette paper for my pistol ctgs and tracing paper for Musket.
May 31, 2011, 03:56 PM
I think tea bags are more porous and they're not as stiff. I don't drink much coffee tho so they may work. Be worth a try.
May 31, 2011, 04:19 PM
Flash paper is low-grade nitrocellulose. The paper is nitrated using sulfuric/nitric acid mix, not saltpeter. (although you can substitute saltpeter or AN for the nitric acid in the nitrating bath.)
It's not something you really want to do, but here's a youtube video I found that describes the process. ;) http://youtu.be/_utrFBo8DzY I would try coffee filters first. Keep some ice water handy to flood it with if the reaction starts to overheat.
May 31, 2011, 04:25 PM
You don't need to nitrate tea bags. They burn clean just as they are.
June 8, 2011, 07:26 PM
I have been shooting a Pedersoli New Model 1859 Sharps Carbine in RAPID FIRE N-SSA competition for ten years now. I just use Ladie's Hair Curling Papers and don't nitrate them. I use 40 grains of FFFg Black Powder.
In our Carbine Team Matches I rarely fire over 10 to 12 rounds "Rapid Fire" BUT....I have never had a "Cook Off" from jamming a fresh cartridge in the chamber of my Sharps the instant after firing the previous round.
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