Instructables

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!
 
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Step 2: Shredding the Foil

You'll need to take ten sheets of foil the length of your forearm and shred them into smithereens. I suggest shredding into strips.

Once you are done, you're ready for the fun.

Step 4: Grinding Process

Picture of Grinding Process
  • Now seal the barrel and set it on the Rock Tumbler. Turn it on.
  • Within an hour, the confetti will have been smushed into a mess of aluminum grains. Top off the barrel with more aluminum confetti and continue running the tumbler.
  • Keep grinding and adding more aluminum until the barrel has been filled slightly over half-full with aluminum.
  • Now let the powder grind for 6-7 days undisturbed.
duct tape3 years ago
This page is the #1 hit on google for the search 'aluminum powder'.
Congratulations!
Berkin (author)  duct tape3 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. :(
googlesearch.jpg
Berkin (author)  duct tape3 years ago
O_O

Sorry to hear about your ball mill belt, hopefully they don't cost too much to replace.
nhealy6 months ago
my rock tumbler barrel leaks and it brand new and not broken. do you know how to fix it
sgfidlin8 months ago
I put the aluminum foil through a paper shredder. That worked great.
Anyone who is actually going to make this needs to use lead grinding meadia, otherwise the steel could cause a spark
inthefrey1 year 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!

inthefrey
patriot7772 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-
patriot777
He made that private so his mom wouldn't see that vid.
ilpug1 year ago
A great source of charcoal powder is old respirator cartridges. Break them open, and pour out the contents, then grind it into powder.
Langarulz2 years ago
can i just make aluminum powder with this not dark german?
Dark German has charcoal which coats the particles to keep it from oxidizing. Normal is less reactive, and more easily electrically charged.
bjohn294 years ago
dude! that is so fohshizzle too bad i threw out my rock tumbler
Berkin (author)  bjohn294 years ago
Get another one! :P
bjohn29 Berkin4 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)  bjohn294 years ago
Blenders are a no-no. You have to use a ball mill.
Why are blender's a no-no?
I think he means using a blender to tear the foil up before you put it in the tumbler.
A.C.E.1 year 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)  randyclark7473 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)  randyclark7473 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.
Pyro73 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)  Pyro73 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.
darkmarc2 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) 2 years ago
Almost 20,000 views, dang...

Thanks guys!
xXLab_ManXx2 years ago
What kind of charcoal is this?
Is it like BBQ type or burnt wood?
Thanks
A.C.E.3 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?
Billdo223 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.
Berkin (author)  Billdo223 years ago
Why are you asking me to confirm what you already know? Of course moisture poses some threat, but it depends on how fine your powder is, and what safety precautions you are taking while handling such materials.

Another user told me that putting your material in a plastic bag before milling it was a good idea, not only because it can keep your mill cleaner, but also because it's safer for when you extract your powder from the mill. If you're considering grinding up another batch, keep the hint in mind.
Ball mills are not common in my country. In fact, I could translate it but have no idea of wtf it should do or look like because I've never seen one. I've tried viewing the youtube video, but it won't play because it's a private video. So, I was wondering if I could make a ball mill which would produce aluminum and iron powder. I want aluminum and iron powder to ignite thermite, then drip the molten metal into custom-shaped plaster, so I could design my own metallic parts. Any idea?
DIY cast Iron Very clever man, you need to make instructable for use to try
Berkin (author)  elias.alberto3 years ago
If you don't know what a ball mill looks like, there's always Google Images. :)

I have heard of people doing very interesting things with thermite, but your idea is unheard of to me. But I wouldn't say no to you trying it.
I've been into a mining company recently and I've seen what is a ball mill! They have some huge ones to make powder from the material they extract.
Berkin (author)  elias.alberto3 years ago
Nice..
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