Picture of Making German Dark Aluminum Powder from Foil
   This is an instructional for manufacturing your own homemade German Dark Al powder. Homemade aluminum powder may not be as good as Eckart aluminum powder; however it is practical for use in pyrotechnics. German Dark Al powder is a particular aluminum powder that has charcoal added to it to prevent oxidation while milling. Not only does charcoal prevent aluminum from oxidizing into aluminum oxide as it mills, it also makes the aluminum powder more reactive bringing about an acceptable product for pyrotechnics. German Dark Al powder is a key ingredient in many pyrotechnic compositions especially in low grade explosive compositions such as flash powder. German Dark Al powder can range from a coarse grade such as 100 mesh to a super fine grade such as 7000 mesh. The finer the grade of the aluminum, the more reactive it is.

Aluminum foil
Willow charcoal (1 tablespoon)
Ball mill (or rock tumbler)
Steel media
Measuring tape or ruler
Scissors (or your hands)
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Step 1: Measuring the Aluminum Foil

Picture of Measuring the Aluminum Foil
First, what you’ll need to do is use your scissors to cut ten 18 inch long pieces of foil.

Step 2: Shredding the Aluminum Foil

Picture of Shredding the Aluminum Foil
   Next you need to shred the sheets of foil in a paper shredder. If you’re not able to access a paper shredder then tear the sheets of foil into small pieces as done in the picture.

Step 3: Adding the Charcoal

Picture of Adding the Charcoal
   After shredding your Al foil, fill the barrel 3/4th of the way with you foil shreds and add 50-60 1/2” chrome plated steel balls. Next use a measuring spoon to measure 1 tbsp of willow charcoal. The charcoal needs to be in a powder form for measuring, so you can use a mortar and pestle to grind up your charcoal. The ball mill will grind the charcoal into a much finer powder along with the Al. You’re free to use a different charcoal other than willow charcoal so long as that type of charcoal burns well and does not interfere with the burning of the aluminum; gardening charcoal is a desirable charcoal to use.

I would think you would want the steel balls to not be coated at all, so none of the coating can chip off the way it sometimes does.

leenewman1 year ago
Can't you use hardened lead balls?

I would say no, for hardened lead still is softer then Aluminium, thereby it will consumed in the milling process, and contaminate your product...

If I milled the aluminum for a longer period of time and also milled it with a bit of stearin do you think it would work as well as the Eckart? Thanks! You should try it sometime
Nice job! That ball milling really broke it down!
Ammonal (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
Thank you for your comment.