Picture of Make German Dark Aluminum Powder in Bulk
This instructable will guide you step-by-step on how to EASILY produce large quantities of extremely fine German Dark aluminum powder.

For those of you that don't know, German Dark aluminum powder is a special type of aluminum powder that has charcoal added to it. The charcoal prevents the aluminum from oxidizing into aluminum oxide when the aluminum is of a very fine grain. Preventing this makes the powder considerably more reactive, and, not to mention dangerous.

DISCLAIMER: I CANNOT be held responsible for any harm, injury, or death caused by misuse of this material. By following these instructions, you must be aware at all times that you are risking the safety of yourself and others.

Here's a video of me igniting a bit of the powder because I was bored. I sound like Justin Bieber in it due to the fact that I was 14 at the time.

Okay then, let's make some of the stuff!

Step 1: Get the Ingredients and Supplies

Picture of Get the Ingredients and Supplies
The materials you need are:

  • Aluminum Foil
  • A Rock Tumbler
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered charcoal
  • About 25 steel balls, for the grinding media
  • A Large Magnet (Not pictured)
  • Sheets of paper (Not pictured)
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duct tape4 years ago
This page is the #1 hit on google for the search 'aluminum powder'.
Berkin (author)  duct tape4 years ago
Not for me, but it's on the first page.

Still pretty awesome, I admit. :D
The screenshot doesn't lie!
Additionally, the belt on my ball mill broke. :(
Berkin (author)  duct tape4 years ago

Sorry to hear about your ball mill belt, hopefully they don't cost too much to replace.
AldoS4 months ago

Can I use hardend lead-antimony non-sparking media, I'm a little scared of using a sparking media like steel?

kodama9 months ago

What's the 'official' ratio of charcoal to aluminium, gram for gram?

sgfidlin2 years ago
I put the aluminum foil through a paper shredder. That worked great.
raa7 sgfidlin1 year ago

I did too and it works fast ! I knew my paper shredder was good for something besides just shredding paper :D

raa71 year ago

I like your process, it's well thought out and easy. Thanks for sharing that ! :D raa7

i am planning on making a smaller batch than what was made in this instructible so does anyone here know the ratio of charcoal to aluminium?
cant wait to make this! too bad i have school today
nhealy1 year ago
my rock tumbler barrel leaks and it brand new and not broken. do you know how to fix it
Anyone who is actually going to make this needs to use lead grinding meadia, otherwise the steel could cause a spark
inthefrey2 years ago
Just a note to all you Ball Millers out there: If you use the RED, Harbor Freight, 3lb. rock tumbler, you will need to add something (piece of plastic, etc) inside your container to keep the 1/2" steel balls from lining up and basically stopping the milling process.

After the 4th day of milling, none of the bits of aluminumin my Harbor Freight tumbler were getting any smaller. A closer examination of the tumbler used in this article revealed a few raised areas or "speed bumps" in the rock container. The container supplied with the Harbor Freight tumbler is completely smooth.

The thin plastic insert shoud span the inside diameter of the H/F container (side-to-side) and leave enough room for the steel balls and aluminum to escape around the insert. This creats a lifting and falling action that amplifies and shortens the milling process exponentially.

Hope this helps!

patriot7773 years ago
I noticed that your video is private. If you are putting this information out publicly, why is your YouTube video on the subject private? Can you help, please.
Thank you, with respect-
He made that private so his mom wouldn't see that vid.
ilpug3 years ago
A great source of charcoal powder is old respirator cartridges. Break them open, and pour out the contents, then grind it into powder.
Langarulz3 years ago
can i just make aluminum powder with this not dark german?
ilpug Langarulz3 years ago
Dark German has charcoal which coats the particles to keep it from oxidizing. Normal is less reactive, and more easily electrically charged.
bjohn295 years ago
dude! that is so fohshizzle too bad i threw out my rock tumbler
Berkin (author)  bjohn295 years ago
Get another one! :P
bjohn29 Berkin5 years ago
tru, u should get like a mini blender and blend the little strips of alfoil so that it doesn't take so long (do the charcoal seperately.)
Berkin (author)  bjohn295 years ago
Blenders are a no-no. You have to use a ball mill.
Why are blender's a no-no?
ilpug pyrochris3 years ago
I think he means using a blender to tear the foil up before you put it in the tumbler.
A.C.E.3 years ago
I've known about this instructable for awhile now, and now that im finally getting into making flash powder and seeing how expensive aluminum is, im considering making it this way. Do you know what the mesh/particle size is when you grind the aluminum for a week? And if you grind it longer will that number continue to decrease? Im looking for something under 6 microns. Thanks!
Please tell me what size steel shot to use in my ball mill, I am about to order one right now.  3/4 diameter, or 1/2 inch diameter.  I am considering using activated carbon from aquarium supply stores for my "dark" adding.  What do you think, mr Berkin.?
Berkin (author)  randyclark7475 years ago
I used 1/2 inch balls.
I have tried your method.  I failed miserably.  I wasted a hundred dollars on equipment.  I am reverting back to purchasing aluminum powder instead.  It just seemed to take damn near forever to crush the confetti down.  Plus, noisy, and I anticipated burning the motor out on the ball mill eventually
If one could combine a standard mill with something like 'jpoops' setup, (a set of driven wheels under the mill container in addition to the main drive motor), it should balance the power between the two and augment speed as well
@randyclark747 what size steel balls did you use? If it took forever to crush down the confetti, is the foil too thick? I put a bucket over the tumbler to reduce the noise.
Berkin (author)  randyclark7475 years ago
Holy crap. That sucks. :(

I can only say that the same method does not work for everyone, I do apologize for wasting your time.
Pyro74 years ago
How is this more cost effective than say buying Star Molecule (military grade aluminum powder), Eckart Super H, or an off indian blackhead powder?

Serious question if anyone can answer. I have never seen anyone beat an Eckart Super powder, and not even come close to Star Molecule with a homemade powder. Did i miss something?
I'm guessing that these military grades are so volitile and the ingredients are highly regulated that even if one were to top intensity, their freedom could be at stake. The government hates competition and no potential martial law would be possible without superiority.
Berkin (author)  Pyro74 years ago
I am not saying that my method of producing powder is "superior" over all others, as that would be an outright lie. I posted this as a fast means to get good quality powder that burns well, and suits the average hobbyist's needs. I never suggested that this be used in any professional applications or commercial fireworks.
darkmarc3 years ago
could you use shaving from lets say a cnc machine or if you were to drill AL the shavings from that
Berkin (author) 4 years ago
Almost 20,000 views, dang...

Thanks guys!
xXLab_ManXx4 years ago
What kind of charcoal is this?
Is it like BBQ type or burnt wood?
A.C.E.4 years ago
Nice tutorial, now i have a good source for aluminum powder hehe, if i cant find my old rock tumbler though, ill have to go and buy one somewhere :p where could i get steel balls (or another grinding medium) locally? would places like Lowes or a hardware store have anything suitable?
Billdo224 years ago
What about the moister from ones breath? could that be enough to ignite it? i had a respirator on that channeled it downward towards what i was working on and i nearly lost my shop just now.
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