Picture of Gunpowder

This is an instructable for how to make gunpowder from its basic chemcials. The cost is initially expensive for the scale and ballmill (a little over 100$) but once you have those parts all you need is the chemcials which are relatively cheap.
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Step 1: Parts list

Picture of Parts list
There are three basic chemicals in gunpowder Potassium Nitrate, Charcoal powder, and Sulfur powder. Gunpowder would be a lot simpler to make if you could just mix the three chemicals together in the right ratio and have the final product, however chemistry dosent always work that way. If you look at a piece of charcoal under a microscope you can see very tiny holes called pores. Even when the charcoal is ground up into a fine powder each particle of it still contains microscopic pores. To properly make gunpowder the particles of charcoal must be ground together with the potassium nitrate and sulfur, the process of grinding them smashes the potassium nitrate and sulfur into the pores of the charcoal creating a subastance that will readily burn when ignited.

Parts list:

1. Ball mill ( Can be bought at for 70$, if you buy it someplace else or decide to make it, make sure you also buy lead grinding media (ceramic media can also be used) as it is the only metal that wont give off sparks when ground together)
2. Scale ( I prefer the electronic ones which can be bought on e-bay fairly cheap, less then 20$, make sure it has a capacity of at least 200 grams, otherwise you will be making gunpowder in very small batches)
3. Potassium nitrate, Sulfur powder, and Charcoal powder(All obtainable on e-bay) When buying try to buy as close to 5x as much potassium nitrate as charcoal powder, and 2/3 as much sulfur as charcoal ( I will explain the ratios later)
4. Wire spaghetti strainer
5. Old newspapers
6. Tupperware container
7. Calcuator ( To measure the amount of chemical to use)
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BenM101 month ago

Any idea on how much grinding media should be put in the mill?

If I can figure out how and where to get the 3 chemicals from, I will gladly purchase this ball mill.

Just bought 3 lbs of the potassium nitrate and a lb of sulphur powder from "ebay" for about $15, they also have charcoal powder but I haven't gotten to that one yet.

DGmoN5 months ago

I went a different way, after making the powder I "cooked" it making a crystal. Whilst cooking it formed a past with the excess sulfur evaporating. When the crystal was lit it burned fast and flew across the room, it was about 2x3cm in size

spawnos37173 years ago
could one put a static pad on or in the mill to absorb static and discharge it safely away from aparatus?
It isn't a "static" issue so much as if you use steel balls to grind the powder, a steel back will strike another steel ball and make a small spark. BOOM!
ancaf333 years ago
How do i get the gunpowder to grains?
For black powder, grains is volume. So 50 grains of lead or 50 grains of powder have the same volume, but different masses.

You can't measure "volumetric grains" on a massing scale. You use a miniature graduated cylinder, calibrated in grains.

However, there is a "weight grain" also.

1 volumetric grain of water is 1 weight grain of water.

I found a 50AE shell casing, and it held very close to 50 grains of water by volume or by weight. So it also holds 50 grains of black powder by volume (but not by weight.)

Black powder by different manufactures and particle size has different weights for the same (or nearly same) substance.

You can buy a black powder measuring scoop (mini graduated cylinder) at a decent gun shop, or order one on-line.
Algag2 years ago
I feel like every science teacher I have ever had cringed as you wrote scale and grams. :b
TaylorLA3 years ago
How can i make an altanate fire cracker?
Demascus3 years ago
have made gun powder years ago, on technique I used was wetting all the ingredients as you mix them. Yes it looks like black mud. However the potassium nitrate will dissolve in the water. Gives everything else a great coating in that form. Will allow for more aggressive forms of grinding to put them all together. Once you have it right. You can use window screen to spread the mud out on and some form of roller or dowel rod (I used a rolling pin) Let it dry and then flex the screen and the little pieces fall out. It worked for me. Other thought is you could use your coffee bean grinder on your charcoal to powder it first. In other words you powder each component separately then mix.
does it have to be weight or can you just mix 75 quarter teaspoons to 15 quarter teaspoons to 10 quarter teaspoons, and where can you get sulfur?
i buy potassium nitrate and sulfer all the time, i make my own powder, but my potassium nitrate i mainly use on military grade smoke bombs, one smoke bomb the size of a pop can will cover a 2 block area if u know wat ure doin, u can by both at almost any hardware store, plant shop anything like that, i buy a big bottle of dry stump killer for $4 and it last quite a while
its not as acurat and u can get it from ebay
Tetranitrate (author)  buildingteen8 years ago
It has to be weight, its the only sure way of measuring the proper amounts.
Not to be technical, but its actually in mass.
Pathological circumstances notwithstanding, units of weight and units of mass are generally interchangeable on Earth at reasonable altitudes.

Even more technically speaking, electric scales measure weight, not mass. Consider an object resting on a scale falling in an elevator. The mass of the object does not change, but the readout on the scale would, due to the lower effective gravity.

The only accurate way to measure *mass* is to use a balance, since both ends of the scale would be affected equally by whatever gravity there is, and so the reading would be the same.

Mmm... physics. =)
if your mind wondering this much, don't play with this stuff, you could smart yourself right in to the burn unit of the nearest hospital. You have had pain till you have had a powder burn, it fells like it goes inside the pores and burns it s way out.
Yeah, if you measure by volume, it'll probably screw you over. Particle size and thus space between particles varies from different suppliers.
In a different experiment, measuring by mass made a smoke bomb; measuring by volume made a rocket.
garden store or nursery
the plant shop has sulfur for fertilizer.
cseaman3 years ago
also united nuclear has chemicals so you can get just about anyhting you need from there.
milamber5 years ago
 ok so kno3( potasium nitrate ) is a 5.1 oxidiser yes?>
chlorine is a 5.1 oxidizer so could you substitute kn03 for chlorine?
No. Chlorine would prevent the reaction from taking place. If you are talking about Pool Chlorine tablets, that's another matter. I think you can use them, but you will have to look it up.
chlorine is a gas
i dont think cloren can ige nit maby im wrong try it
xfox44mag4 years ago
the olny thing i gring is potasium nitrate and chracoal for griding your stuff you can use a coffe grinder it works grate just never grind it all at the same time and clean it every time you swich to grind outher stuff
ok now win you mix it do not use water that kills black powder or gun powder in the old days thay use alcohol 100% or 90% i use everclear lol you do not need to use a lot just a nuff to get it damp the reson for this is so you do not blow your hand off it keeps the powder fom exploding till it drys out makes it a bit stronger too but not a lot i ues this mix in my guns and i need 0.7cc more then the storng nonsmoking stuff you can buy in the gun shop the mix i ues is 75% potasium nitrate 10% sulffer 15% charcoal use a soff wood chracoal and the more you put in the faster it will brun i made a fast mix with this form 70% potasium nitrate 10% sulfer 20%charcoal if you look for some were to buy stuff you can get it a lows stump remover is potasium nitrate just shaks the can to make sher its dry stump remover on the same rack look for sulfer dust for killing mights o and on the buttom of the can a big cap lol now you can make the chracoal just burn some soff wood i use balsa i build r/c planes so i have a lot of scrap it works beter then pine makes it burn to slow
o and BQ charcoal not the same thing and you do not need a ball mill i have made it bouth ways and the mess of the ball mill not worth it i just mix it in a coffe can with a stick i ues this in my cannon too works grat and buy fuse form a fire works sulpier its a lot cheper you can get 50ft for under 20 bucks i got 150ft for 35 on sell just shop around thers a lot out ther you just got to look and if your in can you can still get the stuff you just got to know what to look for
You're right about not grinding it all at the same time. If it sparks - POOF! Shrapnel everywhere, including in you.
jj.inc4 years ago
can i attach a 2' liter bottle to my bike (ill find a way) and fill it with led fishing weights.
Yes. It should work. Make sure you sand the weights first, to remove the zinc coating, or they could spark.
Is it bad that ours don't have a coating, (health wise) :)
Kinda, yeah. The zinc coating could spark and detonate the powder. I'm sure zinc oxide (in the smoke if the zinc gets into the mixture) is not too good for you, either.
Quantinuim4 years ago
Just woderin but coudnt u just crush the potassium nitrite powder and sulfer with a hamer???
Bananas hav lots of potassium in them any idea how to make a banana bomb?
itel make a spark and blow ur face off but sure
You could but the quality would be absolutly terrible.
Howfine a powder does the Potassium nitrite have to be?
To make a good gunpowder, the potasium nitrate would have to be a powder similar to sugar.
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