The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The North Corral > Black Powder and Cowboy Action Shooting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old December 25, 2011, 06:40 AM   #1
markofkane
Member
 
Join Date: November 27, 2011
Posts: 41
About powder burning without outside oxygen

For many years, I've wondered how gunpowder, or any black powder, can burn inside of a tightly enclosed space. From firecrackers to ammo shells.
I got to thinking about it last night, again, (my computer is upstairs, and I did not feeling like going up and researching)
I thought, "maybe the powder makes it's own (or contains) oxygen" and according to certain website, I was right!
I know this is the black powder section, but was the most appropriate forum I could find.
__________________
The 2nd amendment. Crucial to freedom.
markofkane is offline  
Old December 25, 2011, 09:23 AM   #2
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,795
Smokeless burns at the same rate whether in open air or enclosed. Black burns faster in open air.
Hawg is online now  
Old December 25, 2011, 06:11 PM   #3
highvel
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 21, 2010
Location: Powhatan VA
Posts: 633
Gunpowder creates it's own 02 after ignition.
__________________
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.--Mark Twain

"I have opinions of my own 'strong opinions' but I don't always agree with them."--George Bush
highvel is offline  
Old December 26, 2011, 06:04 AM   #4
markofkane
Member
 
Join Date: November 27, 2011
Posts: 41
That's what I figured. All these years of wondering. I was always told you need 3 things for fire (fuel, heat, and oxygen). Well, that is one age old mystery for me, solved.
__________________
The 2nd amendment. Crucial to freedom.
markofkane is offline  
Old December 26, 2011, 07:28 AM   #5
B.L.E.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 20, 2008
Location: Somewhere on the Southern shore of Lake Travis, TX
Posts: 1,973
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawg Haggen
Smokeless burns at the same rate whether in open air or enclosed. Black burns faster in open air.
Huh?
Smokeless burns very slowly in the open, black powder goes "poof" in my own personal experience.
I won't hesitate to set fire to a small pile of smokeless powder with a match. For black powder, that match needs to be on the end of a long stick or my hand will stink like burning hair.

I think you got it backwards.
B.L.E. is offline  
Old December 26, 2011, 10:37 AM   #6
JASmith
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 27, 2009
Posts: 152
Oxygen source for black powder

The oxygen source, in classic English, is saltpeter.

The standard chemical name is Potassium nitrate (KNO3).

When heated, the stuff gives up a fair bit of oxygen and this is what the charcoal and sulfur get burned with.

Standard smokeless powder can be a bit more complicated because the nitrate radical is typically attached to a cellulose molecule (guncotton) so it doesn't need the charcoal and sulfur as fuel.
__________________
Nevermore...
http://shootersnotes.com

Last edited by JASmith; December 26, 2011 at 07:10 PM.
JASmith is offline  
Old December 27, 2011, 05:20 AM   #7
darkgael
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 9, 2006
Location: Homes in Brooklyn, NY and in Pennsylvania.
Posts: 4,330
air

Quote:
Smokeless burns very slowly in the open, black powder goes "poof" in my own personal experience.
I won't hesitate to set fire to a small pile of smokeless powder with a match. For black powder, that match needs to be on the end of a long stick or my hand will stink like burning hair.

I think you got it backwards.
+1
Correct.

Pete
__________________
"Only hunting and mountain climbing are sports. The rest are just games." - R.Ruark
NRA Life Member
darkgael is offline  
Old December 27, 2011, 08:05 AM   #8
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,795
Not exactly backwards. Black burns faster in open air, smokeless burns faster enclosed.
Hawg is online now  
Old December 27, 2011, 10:41 AM   #9
Wild Bill Bucks
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 28, 2005
Location: Southeastern Oklahoma, Next door to Sasquatch
Posts: 1,265
Black Powder( although a propellant) was the first explosive to be used by man. It served well as a powder for firearms, but was always a problem because of the almost instant combustion, as well as the cleaning involved.
As smokeless progressed, it was considered to be more of a propellant, rather than an explosive because of the controlled rate of burn it produces.
Either one will produce its own oxygen when burning. Smokeless does it with a more controlled push of the bullet, rather than the more instant bang of the black powder.
The burn difference between the two, will change chamber pressures drastically, and is why you are not supposed to use smokeless in a powder rifle.

Make any sense?
Wild Bill Bucks is offline  
Old December 28, 2011, 09:35 PM   #10
CarbineWilliams
Member
 
Join Date: November 24, 2011
Location: VA
Posts: 66
When I was in the Army, every time we got ready to do a gunnery rotation with the tanks, we would have to watch the same safety video. Part of the video showed how a round for our 120mm cannons would burn like crazy under 10 feet of water. Of course, the powder inside was quite a bit more 'high-tech' than black powder, but it does point out how a material can be 'self-oxygenating'.
CarbineWilliams is offline  
Old December 30, 2011, 08:59 AM   #11
freedom475
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2008
Location: Rocky Mountains of Montana
Posts: 249
KNo3 (SaltPeter) "is" the oxygen catalyst in black powder.

Black powder is extremely flammable..That is why the explosive rating, but it is not a true explosive. Black powder burns in at almost the same speed no matter if confined or in the open. It is much slower burning in a confined space than any high explosive or even smokeless nitro powder.

Black powder burns at 3000fps..TNT burns at 22,000fps...quite a difference between a high explosive and a highly flammable substance.
__________________
Maker of Horse Tack and Cowboy Gear.
www.7xleather.com

Mister, why do you carry a 45? "Cause Sam Colt don't make a 46."
freedom475 is offline  
Old December 30, 2011, 07:49 PM   #12
Newton24b
Junior member
 
Join Date: February 10, 2009
Posts: 974
thats the oddity of black powder.

modern explosives funciton on the basis of producing massive pressure at massive speed.

black powder creates VOLUME of gas with a modicum of pressure and speed.
Newton24b is offline  
Old December 30, 2011, 08:39 PM   #13
JASmith
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 27, 2009
Posts: 152
freedom475,

Thanks! I hadn't thought about the difference in burn speed and had, in fact, not considered the difference between deflagration (black powder) and detonation (TNT) in this discussion.

You've reminded me of another technicality in the difference between black powder, smokeless powder, and high explosives. The reason black powder is so slow is that the KNO3, carbon, and sulfur have to break apart into their constituent atoms in order to combine into combustion products. TNT, on the other hand, goes so fast because the reaction is intramolecular, meaning that the atoms only have to rearrange themselves, meaning that the number of moles of gas increase very rapidly. Settling down into water, CO, CO2, N2, and other atoms happens at a more leisurely pace with perhaps a decrease in the number of moles but the heat released drives a further increase in pressure.

I'm glad that you mentioned, because it helps in clarifying a smoky picture! (My explanation probably doesn't clarify as much, even though it has some interest for a few folks.)
__________________
Nevermore...
http://shootersnotes.com
JASmith is offline  
Old December 30, 2011, 10:13 PM   #14
B.L.E.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 20, 2008
Location: Somewhere on the Southern shore of Lake Travis, TX
Posts: 1,973
TNT does not have quite enough oxygen to completely convert all of its carbon into CO2 or even carbon monoxide, thus its rather sooty explosion. Because of this, its often blended with some overoxidized high explosive like ammonium nitrate resulting in an explosive mixture that is more powerful than the sum of the components.
B.L.E. is offline  
Old January 2, 2012, 03:08 PM   #15
Gatofeo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 1, 2004
Location: Remote Utah desert
Posts: 222
Both black powder and smokeless powder contain their own oxygen, for burning.
Consequently, either firearm could be used in the vacuum of Space.
Prior to the first moon landing, a number of unmanned probes were sent to the Moon by NASA.
On one of those unmanned landings, a .45-caliber bullet was fired into the surface while the result was televised back to Earth.
It was done to test the firmness of the lunar surface. If the bullet quickly disappeared into the surface, then concerns about its ability to hold the manned, Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) were raised.
Fortunately, enough dust and dirt were raised to indicate it could support the LEM.
This is likely the first instance of a cartridge being fired in Space; I've never heard of earlier instances.

And if we go to war in Space, we wouldn't need fancy ray guns and such. A .22 rimfire would be enough to puncture an enemy's spacesuit. Space vehicles could probably be punctured with the likes of the .30 Carbine.
Recoil becomes a factor when shooting. In weightlessness, you'd be moved backwards with each shot so you'd want a firearm with low recoil -- a 7.62 machine gun would send you drifting.

Shooting at Earth would send bullets into the atmosphere, where they'd burn up in the atmosphere and create "shooting stars." Larger bullets might even reach Earth, but as a molten lump. Copper-jacketed bullets would create green meteors; I'm uncertain what color lead would create.

Personally, I hope that war never erupts in Space, nor that we Earthlings never have a reason to bring a firearm into space.
But yes, firearms would function in Space because gunpowder contains its own oxygen.
__________________
"And lo, did I see an ugly cat. Smoke. Brimstone. Holes in parchment. And this ugly cat was much amused." --- The Prophesies of Gatodamus (1503 - 1566)
Gatofeo is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:49 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.09265 seconds with 7 queries