Armstrong's Mix - a Substitute for Black-powder

About: I make weapons, and other things...

Hello everyone, today I'll be showing you how to make Armstrong's mix. Armstrong's mix is made by mixing red phosphorous and an oxidizer - both of which can be found in a box of safety matches.


Used wisely, Armstrong's mix can be great fun and be used in making fire crackers, fuses, mini canons etc

Please check local laws before making any kind of explosive device or firearm.

Step 1: What You Will Need

To make Armstrong's you will need:

  • Several boxes of safety matches
  • A piece of paper
  • A pestle and mortar
  • A pair of needle nose pliers
  • A craft knife
  • And LOTS of time

Step 2: The BORING Part

Ok, before going any further I warn you; DO NOT attempt to make this if you are not willing to spend several hours and use LOTS of boxes of matches to get a few teaspoons of the stuff!

Assuming you want to go through with this, start by crushing the head of each match several times with the pliers, thereby removing the highly flammable phosphorous and continue with the rest of the matches (it now takes me only 5 or so minutes per box)

Once you've removed the phosphorous from at least 5 boxes worth of matches you can use the pestle to grind it into a fine powder. Do not worry about the phosphorous igniting while doing this since it is not yet friction-sensitive.

Step 3: More Stuff With Matches

Now you need to remove the oxidiser from the striker pads of the match box; this will make the red phosphorous burn a lot faster and give it more of an explosive quality. Use a craft knife to scrape off the oxidiser.

Step 4: Mixing

You can now mix the phosphorous and the oxidiser; I use about 60-70% phosphorous to 30-40% oxidiser; the safest way to do this is to pour both the powders into a small plastic jar and gently shake it for about a minute.

Step 5: Using the Stuff

WARNING! The chemical mix you have created is VERY sensitive to friction. Shake it around too hard, scrape it, hit it; it'll explode. I hope to be doing some tutorials using Armstrong's mix at some point in the future.

Please exercise extreme caution when using this, otherwise, enjoy!

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    4 Discussions


    2 years ago

    As a warning, AM is not a black powder substitute. You load the same amount of it as black powder, and you'll blow you gun and parts of you face to bits. Even in it's impure match mix form, less the 1/16 of a tablespoon can shoot a piece of nail almost 1/2 inch into a pine board from a mini cannon.

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Be careful packing the mix in a barrel too. I've had it go off from a ramrod before. It ripped up one finger, burnt two, and the third had unburnt powder stuck in it for months.

    That being said, if you want a better quality mixture, do smaller batches and do a 50/50 ratio by volume.


    Reply 2 years ago

    The mixture can even go off by friction with the barrel, be careful!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Ok i get your point, i will probably list some warning about that after the contest. I would hope that anyone wanting to make a gun that uses this stuff would make it sufficiently strong to withstand the blast. I loaded at least one full teaspoon of the stuff into the shotgun i show in the ible and it didn't show the slightest signs of strain. I also consulted a friend who has been working with both commercial and homemade black-powder and other such firearms for many years. According to him there was no danger of the gun exploding or being damaged. However the main thing i would mention is how sensitive it is to friction, which is why it is not suitable for muzzle loading. I really appreciate your advice and will be sure to put a warning about quantities within the month