Introduction: Gun Powder

I have always wanted to try this, and this was my opportunity. My grandfather taught me how to make this, but I was never allowed to. Gunpowder is cheap, easy, and also surprisingly fun to make. DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any injuries, damages, or deaths caused by this instructable.
Now lets get started!

Step 1: Materials

Some things you'll need are:
• charcoal
• sulfur
• potassium nitrate (stump remover)
• mortar and pestle
• spoon (plastic to avoid too much friction)
• coffee filters (4-5)
• scale that measures grams

Step 2: Grind

Charcoal sulfur and potassium nitrate need to be ground to a very fine powder separately. This is very important in order to get it to ignite. Separate the ingredients into the coffee filters and then get the scale ready.

Step 3: Weighing and Mixing

Now weigh out 7.5 grams of charcoal, 3 grams of potassium nitrate, and 1.5 grams of sulfur. Experimentation is required here.
To mix, place all ingredients into mortar and pestle and blend gently until thouroghly mixed. P.S. you might try putting the gunpowder in a plastic bag and squeezing the bag over and over, or you may put it in a plastic cup and stirring it with a plastic spoon.

Step 4: Finally...

Now it is a flammable dangerous pyrotechnic compound, so be careful and have fun!


tyler roberts (author)2016-07-29

you could drop the sulfur altogether and just use this ratio

100 part KNO3 to 27 part charcoal.

the sulfur lowers the ignition temperatures so flint locks will fire more Readily, but modern caplocks have no trouble with the sulfur-less stuff.

CelloEOD (author)2016-05-30

Hey MikeK11. Thank you for your input. Also the ingredient ratios are for non pure ingredients, like using stump remover instead of 100% potassium nitrate (which can be somewhat expensive). I also used flowers of sulfur instead of 100% sulfur. There isn't too big of a difference, but just enough to change up the ratios. The mortar and pestle will work fine if you grind it GENTLY. I definately see you concen, so I will edit that and list a couple of alternatives. Thanks!

gizmologist (author)CelloEOD2016-06-04

Flowers of sulfur is pure sulfur. The "Flowers" refers to the form: a fine powder produced by sublimation.

The best way to mill powder (If you must!) is in a ball mill (AKA rock tumbler) with a non-metallic barrel and lead or brass balls- no iron or steel ever! And outside, far away from anything that could burn, preferably surrounded by a berm or sandbags.

gizmologist (author)2016-06-01

You can also use powdered sugar in place of the charcoal, in the ratio:

63% Saltpeter

27% Sugar

10% Sulfur

This is the recipe for homemade "sugar rockets" that fly very well. (Google "5 cent sugar rockets.)

Using the sugar (Which is mostly carbon, as is charcoal) makes it a bit less messy and the powdered sugar doesn't need to be ground. It burns slower than commercial black powder., although the finer and better mixed the ingredients are mixed, the faster the burn.

Very important to mix only with brass or plastic utensils; nothing that will make a spark. And mix only in small batches, preferably outside.

CelloEOD (author)gizmologist2016-06-01

Hey gizmologist. Just letting you know that I made sugar rockets about one week ago and one was the equivalent of two E-45 model rocket engines without any sulfur. Are you sure that the sulfur works better in these?

gizmologist (author)CelloEOD2016-06-04

No, I'm not. I've only made one batch of the stuff, following the original recipe, and it worked fine, but there are as many recipes as there are chemists and they all work to varying degrees. If you get the burn rate and profile you need without the sulfur, go for it!
A brief search suggests that the sulfur lowers the ignition temperature considerably but contributes little to the energy released.

maxman (author)2016-06-02

The way to mix powder is to pour it on a sheet of newspaper then roll it together by alternately lifting the corners.

CelloEOD (author)2016-06-01

Hey gizmologist. Just letting you know that I made sugar rockets about a week ago and made one the equivalent of two E-45 rockets without using sulfur. Do you know which is better (with or without sulfur)?

MikeK11 (author)2016-05-27

Hey to anybody tempted to try this: 12 grams of black powder might not seem like a lot, but it's a lot. The ratios, compared to the classic ratios, are off a bit, too. And the last bit in step 3 about putting the ingredients into a mortar and pestle would seem to imply using the pestle (stick) to mix the ingredients in the mortar (cup)--DON'T!! BP in a open container won't boom but it will flash and burn you badly and don't even think about scaling this up to make a larger quantity.

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