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Old April 30, 2012, 09:22 AM   #1
mikthestick
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Black powder recipes

I used to think the British recipe of 75 saltpeter, 15 charcoal, 10 sulfur, was probably the best it certainly seemed an accepted recipe.

Other nations had different mixtures, the French went for 75, 12.5, 12.5. Windage would probably have made more difference than the recipe as far as Muzzle velocity was concerned.

Research results were:
1) With no sulfur in the mixture it burns with a lot less smoke.
2) without sulfur it ignites at about 440 deg centigrade, with about 10% sulfur this drops to about 300 deg.

My conclusion is the French recipe is superior, perhaps a bit more volatile. It would ignite at a temperature lower than 300 deg providing less misfires.

Last edited by 4V50 Gary; May 1, 2012 at 06:51 AM. Reason: Edited for clarification for those on the Western side of the pond. Thank you Smokin' Joe
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Old April 30, 2012, 11:20 AM   #2
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I'm guessing that 12,5 would be written 12.5 in the U.S.
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Old April 30, 2012, 01:30 PM   #3
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Are the percentages in weight or volume?
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Old April 30, 2012, 02:17 PM   #4
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Some traditional black powder/muzzle loading forums I belong to won't even allow discussion of black powder forumlas or making of bp. The process is so dangerous, thoughts of doing so sould not be encouraged.
My forumla: buy can of bp, open and use safely.
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Old April 30, 2012, 04:50 PM   #5
TATER
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Here is the best I have.. And by weight.
My research show Swiss.
SaltPeter 75%
Willow coal 15%
Sulfer 10%
And throw in 5% Dextrin OR soap as a Final binder.
I use Isopropyl alcohol instead of water.


The woods of choice are Willow, Alder or Balsa.
Don't know about Brit vs French, But, I think everything I have
Found that was British in nature was measured by volume. (ie) Cups , Pints
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Old May 1, 2012, 06:41 AM   #6
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I think if you measure by volume, charcoal and not saltpeter becomes the dominent ingredient. Charcoal is feather light compared to the other two ingredients.
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Old May 1, 2012, 11:28 AM   #7
TATER
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I do not recommend using the volume method as it is
not as precise for sure but, Just to add a little historic value to a question
asked by noelf2, everything Back then was
measured like a baking recipe, ( A cup of this a half cup of that)
The terminology changes sometimes also. Trying to figure out
If a recipe is using weight or volume can be tuff!
Example of one very old British recipe is..
100 parts Saltpeter
18 parts Charcoal
16 parts Brimstone
2 parts Gum
There are many recipes used for different things like Flash or fuse and
The powder we are concerned with is called a lifting powder.
I have found that many old recipes do not specify their intent.
I guess you were just supposed to know.
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Old May 1, 2012, 01:30 PM   #8
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I assumed but don't know for sure the recipe was by weight.

So: in America you can buy all sorts of guns which by their very nature are dangerous but some forums think black powder should not be discussed. How strange.

I was not trying to encourage BP manufacture, although I have the knowledge to do this I could not recognize the separate ingredients. I was pointing out French powder supplied to America (along with muskets) was superior to British BP and why.

I believe America was provoked into the war of Independence, it was a war America could easily have lost. I know America produced versions of the French and British muskets and wondered what mixture their powder was.
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Old May 1, 2012, 01:57 PM   #9
4V50 Gary
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Some forums don't allow for discussion of black powder manufacture because of the webmaster's concern over civil liability. That is their right to do so and it is not censorship by the government. Their website, their rules.

Most folks don't know that at the outbreak of the American Revolution there was a shortage of blackpowder. Instructions were printed in the newspapers and production became a cottage industry among the rebels/patriots. Of course, the quality varied immensely and the powder issue wasn't resolved until the French helped out.
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Old May 1, 2012, 09:13 PM   #10
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people with fear of lawyers and the loss ofbody parts, forget that people who couldnt write their name, their town name, etc. in 1390 ad were making black powder by hand. bad things happened from time to time, but....

when properly done in a controlled environment, with proper precaution it is not that dangerous. not any more dangerous then say having a ciggarrette while sitting on a 50 gallon drum of acetone or ether.


the problem is, people want speed and capacity. speed and capacity, and the refusal to follow safety precaution is why SO many amateurs end up blowing themselves up.
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Old May 2, 2012, 05:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
SO many amateurs end up blowing themselves up
Just how many is that?
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Old May 2, 2012, 08:52 AM   #12
mikthestick
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Once again I'm not encouraging anyone to try making BP BUT. If you want it to work KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY.

You mix your ingredients and put it in a barrel and it will eventually settle out making the BP less effective over time so: You mix it with water when it's like thick mud put it in a tray and let it dry.

You then break up the cake which cannot settle out and sift and separate it 1F to 4F.

The last bit is the dangerous bit if you are smoking. I imagine if you were working in a small room with a 1 LB cake of BP it could cause a fire and it wouldn't do you much good. To explode it needs to be confined.
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Old May 2, 2012, 09:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B.L.E.
I think if you measure by volume, charcoal and not saltpeter becomes the dominent ingredient. Charcoal is feather light compared to the other two ingredients.
How so? If one cubic centimeter of a given substance weighs a ton, or a fraction of an ounce, it's still a cubic centimeter. Seventy five cubic centimeters of saltpeter is going to be be five times as much as fifteen cubic centimeters of charcoal every single time, regardless of how much each one weighs.
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Old May 2, 2012, 12:12 PM   #14
arcticap
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According to these instructions for making it, the BP ingredients are weighed:

Quote:
...The main stages in making black powder can be summarised as follows:
Weigh and mix the raw ingredients (green mix).
Mill the ingredients to a fine, incorporated powder (meal powder).
Press the meal powder into a solid slab.
Break the slabs into grains (corned powder).
Sieve the corned powder into different sizes....

----

...The standard modern formula for black powder is:
Potassium Nitrate 75
Charcoal 15
Sulphur 10

n.b. these are parts by weight....

----

...Weigh the ingredients carefully and place in your ball mill, ensuring that the total charge takes up about 1/4 of the volume of your milling jar. Then add your milling media (which should 1/2 fill an empty milling jar).

Because the Sulphur and Charcoal are much less dense than the Potassium Nitrate the weighed ingredients don't look that much different in volume - trust your scales and not your eyes!...

http://www.thegreenman.me.uk/pro/bp.html
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Old May 2, 2012, 03:40 PM   #15
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Yes, Today. Right Now. The measurement used is weight.

If you like digging around in old books Like I do.
Just be aware, When you find OLD Recipes from
A long time ago, way back when, In History, Volume was
most likely the measurement used.
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Old May 2, 2012, 11:19 PM   #16
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Since we're on the topic, how does one corn powder?
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Old May 3, 2012, 06:17 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B.L.E.
I think if you measure by volume, charcoal and not saltpeter becomes the dominent ingredient. Charcoal is feather light compared to the other two ingredients.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbar4Ranch
How so? If one cubic centimeter of a given substance weighs a ton, or a fraction of an ounce, it's still a cubic centimeter. Seventy five cubic centimeters of saltpeter is going to be be five times as much as fifteen cubic centimeters of charcoal every single time, regardless of how much each one weighs.
A volumetric receipe for gunpowder would have proportions that are substantially different from 75-15-10 because charcoal is so light and saltpeter is so dense that a volumetric formula would likely be mostly charcoal.
When I was a kid, I tried to make me some gunpowder and I thought they meant by volume, what I ended up with wasn't even black, sort of gray and it fizzled making a lot of smoke and left a puddle of molten saltpeter behind after it burned.
Using roughly equal parts of the three ingredients by volume worked a lot better.
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Old May 3, 2012, 10:50 AM   #18
TATER
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4V50 Gary,

There are a couple of ways to achieve the final product. I have
Settled for a less dense method with dextrin as a binder. Once you
have your kneaded powder dough, You burnish or rub it threw an appropriate
Size screen for the desired size. I use a cake sifting fine screen to make PPP.
I have only made small batches in the past to try out recipes.

The other method uses a Pressed form to make dense block. Once dried you
Pulverize it using a wooden mallet and sift threw screens for sizing. P, PP, PPP ect.

There are a bunch of methods and recipes and they seem to be dependent
on each other. also, the type of wood used and the processing of the charcoal will be the biggest Determining factor I found out.
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Old May 5, 2012, 06:33 PM   #19
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When I was a kid we made Serpentine, dry mix, or wet mix to make Black Powder. We only made small amounts and had to stop when we nearly burned down my Daddy's garage. It left a lot of residue dry. We. did try to make fireworks and it worked ok. With the right gear and common sense it can't be to hard.
I understand that in the early part of the American Revolution the shortage was the Salt Peter. The shortage was met by boiling urine. Later the French supplied most of the BP we needed.
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Old May 5, 2012, 10:06 PM   #20
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I made bp when I was a kid and stumbled across a way to get the charcoal ground to where it worked better. Ground charcoal needs to be prism or crystal like.. I took two concrete blocks with a pan underneath. With a brick I crushed the charcoal and scraped it across the blocks. Since the two blocks were not completely joined the crushed charcoal fell though that slot into the pan. The rougness of the top of the blocks basically formed the charcoal granuals into the desired type of granuals to then be mixed w/ saltpeter and sulfer. I do not recommend this since I almost blew up my dads storage room etc. It was dangerous but I was playing. I was a kid. I wouldn't do it now!
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