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Blackpowder is hard to make! Answered

Hey all i'm an aussie with a problem i want to make blackpowder but i can't find sulphur, ive got charcoal (obiviously) and potassium nitrate from sparklers but sulphur is proving to be a problem any ideas please say.



6 years ago

"Black powder is and isn't hard to make depending on which end you look at it from. It is a long and tiresome task if you make more than ten pounds at a time.

"Out on the West Coast, as in some southern states, the trend by the government is to prevent its sale with mountains of red tape. Making your own black powder, however, is not unlawful as yet, as far as I know."

"By weight measure, black powder is made of seventy-five parts saltpeter finely ground, fifteen parts charcoal, and ten parts sulfur. All ingredients must be fine ground separately. This can be accomplished with either a mortar and pestle, or with a hand-cranked flour mill. Never mix all three ingredients before grinding unless you want to turn your mill into a deadly grenade, or your mortar into a cannon that can blow off your fingers or even your hand."

"Then the ingredients can be mixed with a small amount of water so the mixture comes out with biscuit-dough consistency. Usually when I mix the ingredients, I add just enough stale urine to make the batch bunch about like biscuit dough. The urine, substituted for water, gives the powder more oxygen and higher performance."

"Flowers of sulfur is ideal for gun powder, and it can be bought in most drug stores in four-ounce bottles or pound cans."

"It can also be found in pure deposits around volcanoes, and in early times, because it was found where molten lava issued from the earth, the sulfur condensed around the rims of the volcanoes was called brimstone."

"Today, in certain places around the world, sulfur is recovered from un- derground deposits by pumping live steam underground through pipes. The sulfur melts and, being lighter than water, is easily pumped out at another point close by. Then it is pumped into big ships that haul it to industries all over the world. That's why you can buy a hundred-pound sack for about three dollars in most places.

"Saltpeter, the chemical that produces the oxygen for the other ingredients when lit off, can he made by putting urine and manure of any kind in a big cement tank mixed with water until you have about three hundred gallons mixed up. Then you put on a tight lid and let it sit for about ten months. You have to have a drain pipe and valve at the bottom, and a stainless steel filter screen installed beforehand or you'll have one big mess on your hands. At the end of that time, you run the liquid that drains off through ashes into shallow wooden trays lined with plastic sheeting and let them stand for evaporation in the sun. When the water evaporates, potassium nitrate crystals (saltpeter) will form in the bottom of the trays."

"In the old days in cities, most outhouses were fitted with trays or drawers under the seats that could be pulled out from behind the building. They had night-soil collectors who were paid so much every month by the outhouse owners to keep those drawers emptied, and they'd come around with a special wagon into which they dumped the contents. When the wagon was full, it was hauled out to where another fellow bought the contents and dumped it into concrete tanks where the bacteria works it just like yeast works wine or bread dough. Then the liquid was run through ashes into shallow tiled or plain concrete evaporating trays or basins to recover the saltpeter.""Today, saltpeter can also he bought in most drug stores in bottles or cans."

"Charcoal provides the carbon needed when the powder is lit off. When burning, the carbon assists in making potassium carbonates and carbon sulfates during the one one hundredth of a second that it is burning. Most of this is released at the muzzle of a smoke pole in the form of powder smoke. Some remains in the barrel in the form of fouling and should be swabbed out about every third shot if the shooter wants the round ball to continue to shoot true."

Christ if you can get hold of(what you think is)KNO3, you should be able to get sulphur, I'm not being nasty by the way, it's just pretty much impossible to get hold of KNO3 from were I'm from, we have to settle for NaClO3, for our propellents, I guess I could get it but it would to much hassle, plus I've grown lazy and NaClO3 is just sooo easy and versatile! Low and high explosives and you could turn it into KClO3 which is even better! Making black powder(properly, no diaper mix) you gotta build a ball mill, then you gotta run it for hours without blowing up(and subsequently setting on fire)your shed/garage/basement or wherever your doing it, lol like my mate, blew his green house up the silly sod.

Stump remover. It is found at your local home store. It is KNO3.

You can run all the ingredients through the ball mill separately, then simply mix them together with a bit of light stirring. With a wooden spoon.

Real black powder requires milling of the combined ingredients. Preferably remotely, carefully-non-sparking mills. But I wouldn't want to do that with "potassium nitrate from sparklers", where you don't have a good idea what is actually in it. And people shouldn't make black powder in glass houses!

if you don't think sparklers is KN03 type sparklers into wikipedia it will tell you that most types are KN03 with a binder and iron or tin, if you run a magnet over the top you have Kn03 with a little binder bingo

Some things I trust wikipedia on, some ... not. Most of the published formulas for sparklers (Ellern, Lancaster, Weingart, etc) contain barium nitrate as the primary oxidizer. I don't know whether that's still true, (barium nitrate is significantly poisonous!), but Barium nitrate makes for lousy black powder; I'm pretty sure one of the reasons that it is used in sparklers is that it burns much more slowly than KNO3 compositions.

i don't think you understand what i mean just type sparkler into wiki and it says i quote "This composition is rich in a metallic fuel such as aluminium or iron, which when burned creates silver or gold coloured sparks, respectively. The fuel typically contains potassium nitrate or sometimes potassium chlorate as an oxidizer" unquote also before you tell me that potassium chlorate won't work don't worry i've checked up on my brand and it uses KN03

KClO3, sulphur and charcoal will burn(violently)but its not safe! The mix of chemicals could form H2SO4(apparently)and spontaneous combustion, like some poor bloke I read about in USA he made a pipe bomb out of this mix which he placed in the pouch of his hoody,BOOM! blew his nuts off.

Thats why you dont act dumb with bombs haha. Safety first but that doesnt mean that it shouldnt be done. Did he crimp the end of the pipe? The heat from that may of set it off

Why dont you just stay on the safe side and buy stump remover.

In honest curiosity, how were you able to check that "your brand" used KNO3?

don't you love it when your uncle works at Alpen party supplies!! why did you think i was so eager to use sparklers? i seem to do a lot of things with sparklers.... heres a bit of trivia for you how do you make a bomb out of sparklers and only sparklers? anyway could we please get back on the subject how can i easily obtian sulphur that can be used in Blackpowder?


10 years ago

Elemental sulfur isn't too hard to obtain. By low grade coal. boil it. the hot water will extract a good portion of the sulfur. after extracting it, all that's needed is to evaporate the water off and crush the resulting crystals into a fine powder. Personally, If I were you, I wouldn't use potassium nitrate obtained from sparklers, but... to each his own. If you want KNO3 I suggest making it. IF you have a coffee maker that you can mess with it's considerably easier then most would have you think. ... Maybe I'll make an instructable on that.... Anyway... I guess I'm gonna leave it at that. if you need anything else let me know.

2 questions 1. Is elemental sulfur alright to be used in blackpowder? 2. Do you crush the coal or leave it whole and boil it?

what do you mean with a coffe maker? also when you say 1kg bag do you have a brand name?

also i have a question for mister slippy fist how are in jheeebez name are you getting sodium chlorate that stuff is dangerous you add a acid to that and you have a very serious flare/bomb where and how much are you getting it from

Its not that dangerous, only if you do something stupid with it, like mix it with sulphur or eat it. The only problem I have encountered whilst using it is if you leave it out in the open it quickly turns to mush due to it being a wee bit hydrscopic, and if you mix it with suger(one of my faverate LE mixtures)it turns to sticky mush, although it still deflagerates, weird. I get it in a 1Kg plastic container(or I used to, not really into pyro anymore)as weed killer, although roughly half is fire retardent once you,ve sieved it you got about half a Kg of fairly pure NaClO3, costs about 4 quid I think.

Oh, and I'm not sure that the stuff on sparklers is potassium nitrate.

Would it not just be easier and safer to buy ready made black powder ?? most gun stores sell it and I don't know what your laws are like but where I'm at they are pretty strict but not on black powder, I guess flint lock rifles are not that much of a threat...


10 years ago

In the USA, sulphur is pretty commonly sold in gardening supply shops, usually in three varieties: dusting sulphur for applying to leaves as a fungicide/insecticide, soil sulfer, and "burning sulphur" for preserving fruits and such. The last is the most pure, but it's usually in bigger "prills."

Sparklers usually don't contain potassium nitrate. Depending on type, I guess. (What makes you think it IS KNO3 ?)