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Why does my black powder SUCK? Answered

I made black powder using 98% Pure sulphur, 100% Pharmeceutical grade KNO3, and soft-wood charcoal. I ground it using a mortar and pestle becasue i dont have a ball mill, and when i burn it, its WAAAY too slow. like, i tried to put it in a rocket casing, and it didnt even light. it wouldnt burn at all. its bothering me, becasue i spent alot of money on it, and its not working. Any help? Thanks.


I know this is an old question, but I hope I can shed a light on it.

black powder is almost never a powder, it's granulated.

1. mix in some %50 rubbing alcohol with the powder until its a thick mud.

2. force it through a screen (hit Walmart for a mesh colander, or the hardware store for a replacement window screen.)

3. then let it dry.

Add water to it until it turns into a paste-like substance, then spread it out on a cookie sheet to dry. This ensures good bondage of the molecules.
Also, ensure that you are using the right ratios. 75%KNO3 15%C and 10%S8 works great. Also, be sure to grind it until you can just barely see the particles. This ensures a good burn.
As for your materials, I have only one thing to say, use hardwood charcoal.

that doesnt work, its just a trick to trick people into making bad BP, the only way to do it is do use a ball mill.

Hard wood charcoal is the worst you can possibly use, Pine is OK, willow is recomended, but balsa or paulownia are the best and make the best charcoal there is.

A mortar and pestle however will not be sufficient. Incidentally, if any air contacts the charcoal whilst your making it, the chemical structure and molecular structure change, making the gunpowder burn as you say it has, i even tried this once, intentionally letting air into the charcoal pot for 15 minutes, and the charcoal, although never extinguishing, burn slower than sugar KNO3 smoke mix.

there you go! The answer is ball mill. Buy a 3lb for about $80 or a 6lb for about $130 OR build yer own for about $30- $50 depending on yer mizering savvy and/or supplies you already have - Google it "ball mill using drill" hahaha works great!

By the way, I use Airfloat charcoal


Do you know the exact ratio of water for the BP ratios ur using?

ive done that twice, once using 50% isopropanol, once using 98% methanol, and its still escessively slow. the powder itself was ground so fine that it stuck to the sides of the mortar, and clumped like icing sugar, and its still burns really slowly. the granulated stuff burns a little faster, but not quite as fast as i need it.

If you want to make firework stars use sappy wood u have to strip the bark and cut it to size u have to get or make a crusible. For gunpowder use soft woods but use the same precedures. Youtube.com/watch?v=1VB3LUDura0


3 years ago

The slandered receipt for black powder is: 75g KNO3, 15g
charcoal, 10g sulfur and 1.5g dextrin (baked cornstarch to yellow color) or
more precise 74.6g KNO3, 13.5g charcoal, 11.9g sulfur and 1.5g
dextrin. But I found another receipt and procedures that might even be better
than this one. Try this: 57g KNO3, 12g charcoal, 2.5g sulfur, and 5g
powdered sugar or (60g KNO3, 15g charcoal, 5.5g sulfur and 8g sugar).
Grind each chemical in a coffee grinder to resemble powdered sugar. Use a gram
scale to weigh out each chemical and combine them. Grind all the ingredients
together in a coffee grinder for 30-40 second or until it is very fine and
powdery.(I know this sounds dangerous but it is completely safe) Pour or dump the entire mixture into a pie pan plate and add very
small amounts of water a little at a time while mixing it with you hand (use a
latex glove). When you can clump the mixture with your hand and drop it 6
inches above the pan back into the mixture, and the clump stays together
without breaking, the wet black powder is ready to be screened. The clump
should be barely wet but not crumble after touching it. Use standard window 16
mesh screen and gently mesh the clump of wet powder into the screen. I use a 24
inch by 12 inch by 4 inch plastic tub to catch the granulated powder. Carefully
spread out the wet powder and set the tub with the wet powder into the direct
sunlight. The humidity should be below 30% for maximum evaporation. After about
30-40 minutes loosen the powder and move it around for another session in the
sunlight. Continue this procedure until the black powder is completely dry. Store
and label the black powder in the appropriate container. This powder makes
excellent gunpowder. It leaves very little residue, fires quickly and is very suitable
for black powder guns and flintlock pistols. I have even used it in my flintlock's flash pan and it works great no misfires(If the flint is good)!

Try using hardwood charcoal. That is the mistake you made. Also, most blackpowder also has sulfur in it.
The ratio is:
75% KNO3 (potassium nitrate)
15% charcoal
10% sulfur

So try using hardwood charcaol. Let me know how it works for you :)

had a similar problem try 50%kno3 40%Charcoal 10% sulphur

this works because the Kno3 has got more fuel to burn

ball mill ball mill ball mill invest 45 ish bucks in to a ball millhttp://www.cannonfuse.com/store/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=268&idcategory= or get a 1 lb black powder no ball mill kit http://www.pyrodirect.com/ecom-catshow/make_your_own_black_powder.html here are 2 vids http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfthCa-RRI4&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80BdMscnfW8&feature=watch_response_rev now this comment is getting long so yeh hope this helps

The only way to get a decent powder without a ball mill is the CIA method. Use google. However, this method is quite pricey because it uses large amounts of pure alcohol.

You want to use softwood charcoal, not hardwood like someone else posted. Processing is a big part of it. I've had ok luck with sulfur as low as 90% pure, I just compensated for it by adding a little extra. Depending on what you want to do with it, lift charges or whatever, you can add about 2% dextrin (baked corn starch) to the mix, and grind it all until it is the consistency of flour. I run all of mine through a ball mill for about 24 hours and it comes out as a pure powder, not granular at all. Someone mentioned wetting it down, which is a good idea. The reason for that is the potassium nitrate will dissolve completely and actually soak into the pores of the charcoal. The Dextrin acts as a glue to hold it all together. If you want to make lift powder, make a moist ball of powder and run it through a window screen onto a piece of paper and let dry in the sun. Ebay is an excellent source of potassium nitrate if you're in the US. I am in the middle of purchasing about 150lbs of it for our fireworks show this year for lift powder and stars. Good Luck.

I have read in some australian journals from the 1800's that to fix the problem of not having a ball mill that the powder should be ground in a mortar and pedstle wet ( to prevent friction fire was the claim) and the wetting agent was either alcohole or sometimes urine not water also it  was recomended that the bp was formed into bricks then dried for storage and re-ground as needed to help  prevent water absorbtion ( ground means more surface area to absorb water)

 You need a ball mill or at least a rock tumbler. Put lead pellets in it and wait 2 hours.

Do you have the proportions correct- 75, 15, 10? You have made 'green mix'-this is essentially unmilled black powder. It is slow because it isn't milled, simple.

its because you are using 198% of stuff

On a molecular scale when black powder is ball milled not only is it reducing the particle size and therefore increasing surface area, but it is forcing the KNO3 into little pores in the Charcoal and this a major contributer to reaction rate. It is indeed very difficult to make BP without a ball mill

Also, after watching the short video, I would highly suggest you do not heat the BP, that is a big no no. Granted the risks are low since it's not an open flame, but when you are dealing with explosives, do you want to take the risk. BTW, a ball mill will give higher results than the method of mixing with water. Also as a good sign of just how weak the powder in the video is, I wouldn't even consider lighting good BP with a lighter that close again. If I did that with mine, it would flash so fast you couldn't pull your hand away in time to not get badly burned (experience talking here).


9 years ago

i dont know. i never make black powder before as i cant find KNO3 around to make my firecracker. so i am using sodium chlorate which i can buy from a hardware store that sell weed killer. and its almost pure NaClO3. chlorate + sugar also great.(powdered form) see mine.https://www.instructables.com/id/homemade_improvised_firecracker/?ALLSTEPS

maybe your black powder need something to improve it. like make it much more finer.. and mix it well. usually black powder burns slowly as it contain charcoal. and usually black powder best to be used in confine condition that works best like in use in some old times rifle and cannon. and also a good mixture. like using 75% KNO3, 15% Charcoal and 10% sulfur. and for optimal composition. use 74.6% KNO3, 13.5% Charcoal(Airfloat), 11.9% sulfur. a little experiment will do it and maybe search some info in the internet that related to black powder. the one that burns and ignite almost instantly are flash powder. which is more powerful and dangerous.

well, have a nice day.