Picture of Making black powder.
This instructable shows you how to make black powder for use in rocket motors and shells.

Step 1: Ingredients and equipment.

Picture of Ingredients and equipment.
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the things you will need can be bought in supermarkets or garden stores.
And a ball mill can be constructed easily, if this goes down well, i might enter a ball mill instructable.

1.Potassium nitrate/KNO3/salt peter
2.Sulfur/flowers of sulfur/dusting sulfur
4.Ball mill
5. scales

The KNO3 is a garden fertilizer and can be bought at most gardening centers, as is the Flowers of sulfur, (its used to kill mites and acidify soil, so make sure you de-acidify it!)
Charcoal can be bought. Or if you have fireplace, or campfire the black brittle stuff is charcoal
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troubledJoe3 years ago
I was wondering if I can use a Ceramic DURAMEDIA for mixing black powder in a 3lb tumbler?
Dhunter14693 years ago
Why cant u just buy it from a firearm(gun) store I live in sa so I Canot just buy it but I know you can in America
the de acidifying process doesnt make alot of sense please reply
You only need to de acidify if you are using flowers of sulfur. If you are then mix 100g of the sulfur with 10g of ground calcium carbonate (chalk) or lime chloride). As in put 10:1 parts sulfur to stabilizer together, mix them with a spoon, and you're done.
how do you de acidify the sulfur please respond fast i is in a hurry
Nice 'Ible! I saw this in a book, but i was too scared to try it :P

P.S. You should probably put a disclaimer, because some idiot is probably going to blow his hand off.
samstocker4 years ago
you do know that if you keep grinding it, and then place it in cheese cloth or pantyhose and running water over it, it'll make the powder much more powerful and quick burning
charlie c5 years ago
 can u use sodium nitrate insted of potasium nitrate?
hay use sodium nitrate for making blasting powder olny
Yes you can, many people do.
Eric-the-halfa-bee (author)  charlie c5 years ago
I very much doubt it. Although it is the Nitrate functional group which is essential for this reaction, the parent molecule is also important as sometimes they may interfere with the reaction. At the very least it would mean different amounts and ratios for a working reaction. I do not suggest you start experimenting with chemicals you are not familiar with either, because that is really a job for an expert. If you can't get your hands on KNO3 or a reliable recipe with NaO3 as the oxidiser then please do not attempt black powder.
Oh, and for the record, if you did make some combustable material with NaO3, it technically wouldn't be Black Powder, meal powder, or gunpowder.
xfox44mag4 years ago
grinders are olny use to grind not to mix and let it diy for 2 days in a can or on paper not in a bag mix right it will burn just like hodgdon pyrodex RS
xfox44mag4 years ago
O for got do not use fertilizer that kind stupi win you can buy the stump remover and its cheper at lest for me
dude where do get actual black powder
Buy it at a gun shop
thank you but how much is it and whats the name of the store
runs 20 buck for rs most places
Sorry I don't but I'm sure you could find it in your local telephone directory, just call around.
xfox44mag4 years ago
ok FIRST OFF DO NOT USE WATER TO MIX BLACK POWDER USE ALCOHOL like everclear or some thing thats 190 or 100% and you do not need to use a lot just a nuff to damp it the olny reson this is done is so you do not kill your self it makes it not light off y your mixing it you can mix dry but it dose work a bit beter mixing with alcohol i have made a tons of this stuff and trid a lot of combos DO NOT USE HARD WOOD OR PINE GET REALY SOFE WOOD CHRCOL WORKS GRATE i use balsa i build r/c planes so i have a lot but you can use adler wooks good to i make blasting powder with the balsa it flash faster then adler i made some with pine be for to see what it do and it bruns like crap
you can change the burn rate by mesing with the chrcol % add to make it burn faster it at less it works for me i shoot guns with it and some rockits i use this mix 75%potassium nitrate 10%sulfur 15 chrcol and thats where i start at now to get the potassium nitrate you can buy at lows spestracide stump remover and grind it in a coffe grinder till its realy fine works good and fast its 90% potassium nitrate i buy my sulfur dust ther too it on the same shelf lol o and if you flip the can over thers a biger cap on the outher end i found out after cuting the top off lol a ball mill ok but not need i use a can and a stick for i do not whant to die never use steel in a ballmill use led or coper brass never steel AND DO NOT USE THE COFFE GRINDER TO MIX IT OLNY TO GRIND THE potassium nitrate i saw a guy lose a hand so be safe win mixing
could i use a blender
I would strongly advise against it. Blenders could produce sparks against the materials which may cause ignition. Also, it wouldn't yield the required consistency, making the result useless. Ball mill or mortar and pestle only.
Zem5 years ago
Do you have to use a ballmill? or can you use a pestle and mortar? 
jpoopdog Zem4 years ago
you can use a mortar and pestle, however, to get the powder fine enough for the carbon particals and potassium nitrate particals to bond, like they do in water , it may take a while, unless you have very fine flour like powder to begin with.
i tried both, and found that the mortar and pestle powder didnt work as well when milled, plus, in the ball mill the powder turned properly black, wheras, in a mortar and pestle, after grinding hard for an hour and a halve, i couldnt get ti to go any darker than medium grey (normal grey).
essentialy im saying yes, you can, but it will be better and easier in a ball mill, as the proccess takes time, which isnt always the best thing , when you need to put in alot of effort you cant give.
jpoopdog4 years ago
hm, i see a problem with this, you se i have tried many a time to make black powder without neding to mix it with water(aka a dry mix like this one), and it never seems to work....EVER!!!
apparently the chemicals cannot properly mix unless they are mixed together in hot, steaming water and alcohol, as the nitrate is absorbed fully into the charcoal, and the sulfur undergoes some kind of reaction also to bond with hydrogen and such.
please, dont lie when you answer this, but is this actually as good as proper, homemade, black powder using the traditional, methods of mixing and disolving in water then drieing out in crystaline grains?
Eric-the-halfa-bee (author)  jpoopdog4 years ago
Thank you for your comment. Of course, you are right. This instructable aims only to teach in the mixing of black-powder like propellant for the use in rocket motors. It would be unsuitable in, for example, black powder guns. This method does not fully absorb the nitrate into the charcoal, but with proper milling some level of absorption does occur. This is a quick, easy, and reliable way of making a combustible powder that happens to be black. NB: This may in fact be more effective than SOME home-made dissolving methods, and equally as likely be worse than others. It is important to remember that some methods are unreliable.
This Instructable is an option for those who don't want to spend a lot of effort, but still want a satisfactory result (see my other instructable for demonstrations)
well, i just tried it again, and to your specs, this time i took the time to make and use proper charcoal, and this time, when i made the black powder, i did it by weight not volume like i did before when i had no mini scale.
and im glad to say the stuff works, but not so great as i though, not even alum will bring the stuff any better :C.
however, i do see it fit for use as rocket propelant, and right now i am mixing half with steaming hot water, to mix in the nitrate, i will make another batch but i will add 5% potasium chlorate, to see if the results better. and for the other half (the first half was for two batches), i will reserve it for direct use as fuse gunpowder, which i will mix with dextrin to make a fuse, once my dextrin comes on off ebay!
im also happy to say that if compacted realy hard, and forced into granules that way, this works just as well as crushed rocket propelant, that i use in my mini pocket cannon, that is the size of a pencil, and ill let you know, only good smokey explosives like gunpowder and rocket propelant work in that, and this powder did work in it, and , fortunately, is incapable of shoting the small solder ammo very hard, so its safer to use on my tank . yay

thankyou for making this instructable, i am glad you have shown me how to make tis kind of bp

lastly ill point out, unlike bg from rocke engines or fireworks, this leaves very little odour, compared to others, so ill be able to use it in re-useable rockets, and not have them stink up any more.! :)
gwarboy20006 years ago
ok everything was good prior to him saying, "Then combine the KNO3 with the Charcoal, and 10g of the sulfur mix in the ball mill until at a consistent fine-ness, about 1 hour" no offense but DONT DO THAT, Its very dangerous to mix an oxidizer and charcoal together, there is a risk of explosion!
Eric-the-halfa-bee (author)  gwarboy20006 years ago
this is not true, this is the only way to prepare an "explosive" mixture and if done with lead balls (which do not spark) in plastic with static proofing then there is no risk.
actually proper exploding black powder cannot be made using these 3 ingredients alone as black powder, of this grade cannot possibly burn quick enouh to explode.
to make exploding black powder, you must make the mixture in the original method which is to bond the chemicals together in hot water( charcoal chemicaly bonds with kno3 in hot water, making it imposible to remove or extract later), but then you must also add the equivalent of 5% potassium chlorate, of the complete mix, prior to putting in water, so if you have 100 grams of black powder mix ready to wet, add 5gram potasium chlorate.
this will make the black powder that little bit more unstable, allowing it to explode, while not becomeing some kind of touch explosive, like chlorate charcoal mixtures, though, if put into a ball mill, it will explode. this is what is added to comercial grade black powder, to make it that much more explosive.
to make this mixture into firecracker powder, without wetiing it, you can add 5% aluminium powder, along with an equal amount of kno3, to make a hot instant explosive powder
Eric-the-halfa-bee (author)  jpoopdog4 years ago
Very right Mr jpoopdog, It was a distinct intention of mine to only instruct in the mixing of this, less dangerous, powder. This is not designed for the gunpowder barrel bombs of cartoons, it is a pyrotechnic aid and that is all.
this is very true, but if you know the chemical background of KNO3 you'll know that it is unstable when combined with charcoal or aluminum. I know this from many sources including one of the biggest fireworks makers of our time, zambelli. I live in new castle pa. I contacted zambelli on this issue ages ago when I first started making fireworks. zambelli promptly told me that in fact it might be somewhat safe but there is a huge risk of explosion that isn't worth ballmilling. I have also contacted the batf (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)as well as my local state fire marshal. I'm not trying to be a know it all, but I want people to have the correct information. if you don't believe me, call the batf or your local fire marshal they will tell you.
 You do know that black powder doesn't explode?
yeah hes absolutly right and ther is a proper way in order to do this but be extremely careful.
if you have lead media you can ball mill the entire thing together. Don't add kno3 and charcoal first. Just put everything in together. Sometimes you might want to grind the charcoal and sulfur together first so they are combined well. Then mill the KNO3 with the charcoal sulfur mixtrure. ONLY use LEAD media when milling black powder or any other explosives. You DO NOT want to turn your mill into a bomb.
FlaScubaMan5 years ago
Lead balls are best for the tumbler. An easy source is Walmart. Go to the fishing dept, and buy the large 1 inch lead egg sinkers. They have a hole which gets plugged with powder after first use, buts thats OK. I would recommend tumbling new sinkers with disposable sand or charcoal for an hour to remove the zinc coating on the sinkers.
Foaly75 years ago
On a scale of one to ten, how explosive is this?
can you put a picture of the ball mill you used

How much does the potasium nitarte (KNO3) cost ? 
thedog4585 years ago
ok so i read the comment below and i still wanted to ask what about ammonium nitrate? 
if you buy spectracide stump remover thats 100% kno3. o and i noticed when i went to stores to buy some in california all the ingredients were removed :(
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