Black Powder for Self-Reliance – Component 1, by M.B. Creating Black Powder.


(Continued from Component 1.)

Introductory Disclaimer (Repeated):
Creating black powder, though protected in the author’s experimental expertise, can be harmful. The author and do not endorse generating black powder, and you do so at your personal threat. Creating black powder could also be in violation of the laws in your jurisdiction. You are accountable for compliance with all laws in your location. Neither the author, nor, are accountable for your use of the data in this report. The processes described herein are for that reason for informational purposes only.

Security Note (Repeated):
Black powder can be harmful if there is a gap involving the powder and the projectile, when the firearm is loaded. When loading a muzzle loading firearm, be confident to seat the projectile firmly, so there is no empty space above the powder. This consists of cap-and-ball revolvers, which can have no space involving the powder and the ball or bullet, while wads can be applied to fill the space when a light powder charge is applied. When loading black powder cartridges, there have to be no empty space inside the cartridge. You may perhaps have to have to use a wadding or other “filler” more than the powder to take up the space inside the case.


What if a tyrannical government attempted to ban all firearm and ammo sales below the excuse of a “national emergency?” Or if panic at the threat of such a ban triggered widespread shortages in ammunition and reloading elements?

What ever ammunition and elements (brass, powder, primers, bullets) you have could abruptly be it, for the foreseeable future. Each and every raccoon raiding the henhouse that you shoot, every single shot fired in education or practice, and every single game animal you harvest represents 1 much less round of ammo in your inventory.

What if you could make your personal ammo? Not just assembling elements you buy, but make your personal elements from points purchased in a house improvement shop, a toy shop, a grocery shop, or even from points you obtain in the trash or from points located in nature? If you could make ammo excellent sufficient for practice, for hunting or for pest elimination, that could stretch your other ammo supplies a lot, a lot additional.


“Technologically, gunpowder bridged the gap involving the medieval and contemporary eras.” – “The Gunpowder Revolution, C. 1300-1650”

When I was increasing up, it seemed like all of my close friends knew that “gunpowder” was produced of potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal. Some of us even knew the proportions! What we didn’t know was that just mixing the 3 elements does not make excellent excellent black powder. Early medieval powder was produced by grinding the elements separately and mixing the powder dry, shortly prior to use. The resulting powder was referred to as serpentine. It was inconsistent in overall performance and was often even harmful.

A far better way is to mill the powder, which far better combines the 3 components. As described under, I applied a rock tumbler as a ball mill to achieve this.

Black powder consists of 3 key elements, measured by weight:

Potassium nitrate (KNO3) – 75% by weight:
an oxidizer, the KNO3 supplies oxygen for the reaction

Charcoal – 15% by weight:
delivers carbon and other fuel for the reaction. Charcoal is the most significant element, and its excellent impacts the completed powder. Willow is regarded the ideal wood for charcoal if you make your personal. “Charcoal” briquets for barbecue do not function effectively and are a waste of time to mess with.

Sulfur (S) – 10% by weight:
though also serving as a fuel, sulfur lowers the temperature needed to ignite the mixture, thereby escalating the price of combustion. Sulfur is the least significant element if left out, the powder will reportedly nonetheless function, even though it will be tougher to ignite. I have not attempted this, as sulfur is straightforward to receive and low-cost.


Blackpowder Making ComponentsI was inspired to take up this experiment when I study about the book, Locusts on the Horizon, by the Program B Writer’s Alliance, especially the report: “Homemade Gunpowder for Extended Term Survival”. The report offered hyperlinks to two videos by a gentleman calling himself “Brushhippie.” These two YouTube videos have considering that been taken down, but I downloaded copies right after seeing them, mostly out of worry that YouTube would get rid of the videos.

Brushhippie’s second video is now offered on Vimeo, at: Even though the initial video could not be located, the second video covers his approach effectively. His procedure is relatively uncomplicated and calls for quite tiny specific gear. I primarily based my approach on that of Brushhippie, and it appears to function quite effectively.


Black powder have to be treated with respect at all occasions. It is quite straightforward to ignite and burns quickly. For this explanation, you ought to usually use caution when loading black powder firearms. When loading single-shot muzzleloaders, I usually pour powder down the barrel from a powder measure or a paper cartridge, not from a flask. If a lingering spark sets off the powder, a flask complete of powder ought to not be open and in the path of the fire.

When loading a black powder firearm, usually be confident to seat the projectile firmly, so there is no empty space above the powder. This consists of muzzleloaders, cap-and-ball revolvers and black powder in cartridges. There can be no space involving the powder and the ball or bullet, while wads can be applied to fill the space when a light powder charge is applied. Empty space above black powder can outcome in harmful pressures.

Above all, seek the advice of a excellent black powder manual. Discover to use black powder safely, and you will obtain that it is no far more harmful than other shooting sports.


Potassium nitrate – 1 pound bottle of Spectracide Stump Remover. This is basically pure potassium nitrate – I paid $7.48 at Lowe’s.

Sulfur – 1 pound bottle Lilly Miller Sulfur. Lilly Miller is about 90% sulfur – The price was $six.98 at Lowe’s.

Charcoal – two pounds “air float” charcoal – The charcoal was just $four per pound, plus $16.71 shipping(!) – from

Dextrin – Argo Corn Starch. (This comes in a 1-pound box, but you will only use element of it.) Ordinary grocery shop corn starch (brand does not matter) is spread out on a cookie sheet and baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours. It acts as a binder in the corning procedure. An quantity equal to five% of the batch weight is added the powder. I’ll clarify the procedure later.  A box price me only $1.67 at Walmart.

With the costs offered above, and which includes the cost of shipping into the cost of the charcoal, the cost for a pound of homemade black powder would be $eight.11. The cost consists of sales tax on the potassium nitrate and the sulfur, while I get a 10% discount at Lowes as a military veteran. The potassium nitrate accounts for $five.49 of the total price of a pound of powder. If you obtain a far better cost, without the need of outrageous shipping charges, homemade black powder can be quite low-cost.


Rock TumblerRock tumbler with black rubber tumbling chamber, three pound capacity – $44.99 at Harbor Freight. This is applied as a ball mill, with a pound of lead balls. A number of styles for homebuilt ball mills are offered on the World wide web. It is basically a modest, cylindrical container produced of sturdy, non-sparking material, which wants to hold a thing to be crushed, along with non-sparking metal (lead) balls. Some type of uncomplicated motor is necessary to rotate the drum.

100 foot heavy-duty extension cord

Digital scale

100 .36 lead balls (000 buckshot). The diameter was not significant, but the general weight (about 1 pound) and the material are. Non-sparking lead balls in a non-sparking rubber container present no chance for a spark. Do not use glass, ceramic, or steel balls. Use lead balls, for security!

Kitty litter scoop (for separating lead balls from powder)

Versatile plastic cutting board (for mixing powder with water prior to corning), or a plastic cafeteria tray

Spray bottle (for misting water onto powder for corning)

Old credit card, hotel card/crucial, or equivalent plastic card for mixing/stirring the powder and water. A modest plastic spatula for use with putty could also be applied.

Screening frame – produced from scrap 1×3 wood and metal window screen. The size of the frame is unimportant. My frame is about 1 by two feet in size. The screen has about 16 squares per inch, which offers completed gunpowder that is comparable to industrial FFFg in look.

Newspapers for drying the powder right after screening (corning)

Dust mask or respirator to prevent breathing powder dust

Latex, nitrile or rubber gloves


Method FOR Creating BLACK POWDER

A excellent batch size is 200 grams (.44 pounds) of black powder. The batch calls for:

– 150 grams potassium nitrate (75% by weight)
– 30 grams charcoal (15% by weight)
– 20 grams sulfur (10% by weight)
200 grams total

– Plus 10 grams dextrin (baked corn starch – +%five by weight)

Meticulously weigh the 3 major components and add them to the rubber drum of the rock tumbler, along with the lead balls. Note: The dextrin is not added till the quite finish of the milling procedure.

Utilizing a 100-foot extension cord, set the tumbler up far away from any buildings, persons, or animals, in a shaded spot on bare soil or a concrete slab. Tumble the powder and lead balls for at least six hours.

Be quite cautious with black powder, as it is quite very easily ignited by a single spark.

[JWR Adds:  I’m sure that this article will inspire howls of derision from readers claiming that black powder and lead balls inside a rock tumbler is a recipe for making an unintended fragmentation bomb. However, keep in mind that these tumblers user a flexible rubber tumbler body with a plastic lid. If the powder were to ignite, the lid would simply pop off and the powder would burn, and not explode. Truly explosive force from gunpowder is seen only when it is fully contained, allowing pressure to build up.  Granted, even a flaming rock tumbler that is still spinning would be a bad thing, but not catastrophic, if at a safe distance from anything flammable.]

Following six+ hours, unplug the tumbler extension cord and allow  the tumbler assembly to cool for 1 hour. Then don your mask or respirator and gloves prior to opening the tumbler drum. Method it and open the tumbler drum. Open it gradually and cautiously, to prevent a cloud of dust. Add the 10 grams of baked corn starch and tumble for just 20-30 minutes far more. Once again unplug the tumbler extension cord and permit the tumbler assembly to cool for 1 hour prior to approaching it. The powder is now prepared for corning, which will modify it from superfine “meal powder” to granular gunpowder that will burn effectively in a firearm.

I spread out a piece of “Visqueen” plastic sheeting in my function location. It aids to hold the mess below handle.

Corning consists of 3 methods:

1. Moistening the powder.
two. Screening it to produce granules of a offered size. This is corning.
three. Drying on newspapers.

Spread out a couple of layers of newspaper on the plastic and set the screening box more than them. Also on the sheet, spot a versatile cutting board or cafeteria tray, plastic card or spatula for stirring, and a sprayer filled with water. I use distilled water, as my effectively water is quite “hard” with minerals. It may perhaps not make a distinction, but it cannot hurt.

Once again, don your mask or respirator and gloves prior to opening the tumbler drum. Open gradually and cautiously, to prevent a cloud of dust.

Spot the kitty litter scoop on the mixing surface, and gradually pour about 1/four to 1/three of the tumbler contents onto the scoop. Gradually lift the scoop to get rid of the lead balls from the powder. Meticulously pour off the balls into a container for later re-use.

The crucial in moistening the powder for corning is to gently use a fine spray of water, adding a modest quantity at a time, though stirring with the plastic card to distribute the water. You want the powder moist sufficient to type a firm ball, but not wet sufficient for water to come out of the ball when squeezed.

When the powder is moistened, type a ball of it in your fist and commence gently rubbing it via the screen, so it falls onto the newspaper. Make confident that no powder is clinging to the underside of the screen. Clumps of powder stuck to the underside of the screen are an indication that the powder is as well wet.

If the screened powder appears as fine as it was coming out of the tumbler, then it is as well dry. If this takes place, you can place it back on the mixing surface, moisten it to the suitable level, and corn the powder once more.

Attempt to use all components of the screen, so the powder is spread as thinly as achievable more than the newspaper. This will make certain more rapidly drying.

Repeat the methods above till all the powder is moistened and corned via the window screen onto the newspaper. Take away the screening box and permit the powder to dry in a low-humidity (30% or reduced) atmosphere.

When completely dry, the completed powder ought to be stored in airtight containers. Black powder, becoming a uncomplicated mixture, has a quite lengthy shelf life. Once again, be quite cautious with black powder, as it is quite very easily ignited by a single spark.

(To be continued tomorrow, in Component three.)


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