Black powder basics

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by Designer, Jul 21, 2020.

  1. Designer

    Designer Well-Known Member

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    I've done a search of the forum, but my questions are very basic in nature.

    Have any members on here made their own black powder?

    If I want to use black powder for some homemade fireworks, what safety measures and/or laws apply?

    If I need only about one pound of black powder, what kind of attention will I draw from the Feds?

    Have any members on here tried making fireworks?
     
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  2. Grizzley1

    Grizzley1 Well-Known Member

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    I haven't made my own but I know a guy who does make his own.

    As to making fireworks, never tried it, never wanted to try it. I'm sure Uncle would require lots of permits and safety measures if you are making them to sell, for your own use, I would imagine it would be state and local laws you'd have to contend with.

    There are some videos on you tube both on making black powder and on making fireworks.
     
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  3. Broot

    Broot Well-Known Mumbler Supporting Member

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    Yes, I have both made Black Powder and used it for small hobbyist fireworks (my own personal use).

    It is legal to make your own BP, as well as your own BP fireworks (for your own personal, immediate use). Transportation and storage is where things get tricky.

    I’ll add a few screenshots as well as a link to the ATF‘s rules. Additionally, I’ll post a link to a thread on PyroTalk that should be helpful (hopefully the mods don’t mind).

    If you need any advise pertaining to making BP, I can probably help. Been fiddling with homemade BP about 10 years or so by now :D

    44E20D09-F176-4A50-9EDE-4AEE4F736C68.png 21105134-6B4A-4A4F-BF3E-832A113F9A34.png

    https://www.atf.gov/explosives/docs...ves-laws-and-regulations-atf-p-54007/download

    http://www.pyrotalk.com/bulletin/archive/index.php/t-1242.html

    All that said, I’d always recommend that you double check the latest rules and regs yourself.

    Broot
     
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  4. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    No disrespect intended with the following. I've read in the past about the ingredients for BP, but that was as far as I got. Older and much wiser men than me offered this simple advice: "don't do it". You can buy it and it isn't expensive, and the quality of what you would buy would be MUCH better than you could make in your basement.

    I think the thing that first persuaded me not to try was the fact that after you make the basic compound - you need to grind it up into usable powder granuals. BP is sensitive to percussion, and grinding requires breaking up the solid mass. If you get away with all of your body pieces and parts attached after attempting to grind this stuff up, you will have fine powder and large chunks - and everything in between. I've had second degree burns to my right hand from stupidity mixed with carelessness in handling BP, and it wasn't exactly a barrel full of monkeys.

    Could use some 3FG - but I'm buying mine. Good luck!
     
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  5. rawright54

    rawright54 Philogynist & Sycophant, Looking For Work Supporting Member

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    I started making BP, rocket fuels, and fireworks when I was 8, all from stuff in Dad's garage or ordered by mail from ads in the backs of magazines. Back then, chemistry sets taught real chemistry, and came with real chemicals. I found a recipe for nitroglycerin in a book at the grade school library, so I made a batch of that, just to see if it worked. Of course, there's the problem of what to do with it once it's made; I stuck the beaker in the middle of the lawn and turned on the sprinklers. Dad thought it was really nice of me to water the lawn for him.

    None of the ingredients are hard to find. Dad had 50 lb sacks of potassium nitrate in the garage for the lawn, and sulfur powder for dusting the roses. Charcoal briquettes were plentiful, too. None of them, alone, is dangerous, and I've never heard of BP detonating from percussion though I suppose it could happen. Grinding the final mixture is done wet - look up the source of the word "proof" relating to alcoholic beverages - and the mixture is pressed through a screen to achieve the proper fineness to get the burn rate you want.

    That said, I'd stick with store-bought. It's not expensive, and you're going to get much better consistency than you can hope to achieve on your own. Besides, it's a lot safer.
     
  6. Designer

    Designer Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the information! It will take some time to read everything you attached. I have no intention of selling any fireworks, but just wanted to make some noise. If you have any other comment, you can send me a PM. Thanks again.
     
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  7. sharps4590

    sharps4590 Well-Known Member

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    Deleted or not, if I wanted to make my own black powder, I'd make it. A search will turn up all kinds of "how to". Lots of folks have been doing it forever. I've done it.

    Oh jim, BP is not sensitive to percussion. That myth has been put to rest so many times it's....boringly redundant. That ranks right up there with the myth that a static electricity charge generated at home can set off BP. It can be, has been and is being done safely at home.

    I will add this, making ones BP that is of any quality is definitely a labor of love. The time involved makes buying it a bargain but, for me, it's still a skill worth having.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2020
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  8. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    A good friend of mine from LONG ago at United had a Masters in physics. We started off at United the same time, and this guy was brilliant (we were furloughed at the same time in 1980 and Standard Oil snapped him up and gave him his own lab). He used to make his own "fireworks" - a lot from aluminum powder. He also made rocket motors and even what we called "Brew 502" (a still in his sink). He made low grade explosives from iodine... Once he had me design an explosive warhead for one of his rockets from a length of copper tubing and a musket cap - made a direct hit on a bee hive @500 yards up in the Mojave desert. Another time he made me one of his 'firecrackers' with a toilet paper roll to ward off some violent dope dealers next door - blew out all of the rear windows when I tossed it over the block wall between us... (they moved out the next day):rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:

    Astonishing what you can make at home. I'm not smart enough nor do I trust myself - but I salute those who can and do.
     
  9. Smoke

    Smoke Well-Known Member

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    I used to make it as a child to build model rockets.
    I used charcoal, sulfur, & saltpeter/potassium nitrate but I don't remember the combination ratios.
     
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  10. Designer

    Designer Well-Known Member

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    I have a good handle on how to make a firecracker after watching some youtube videos, but I think my idea will make a louder report. Unfortunately, I don't want to set it off here in town, and transporting it to the shooting range is a huge risk, so I'll just sit on this for a while.
     
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  11. sharps4590

    sharps4590 Well-Known Member

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    Standard combination was 75/15/10 and different nations had slight variations. The only one I can remember is 10% was the sulfur. I never could remember if it was 75% carbon or potassium nitrate. I could look it up but I'm not making any right now....and probably won't be.

    As an aside, the early colonists and pioneers effectively made their own. 'Course at that time caves contained lots of bat guano and buckets were place in strategic places for men to urinate in so, potassium nitrate was easy to come by. Willow charcoal was also readily available. I can't remember how they obtained "flowers of sulfur" although sulfur is not needed to make BP. It's only function so far as I know is to soften the fouling. In the REALLY olden days, like the 16th and 17th centuries, the ingredients were transported to the site of a siege separate and dry and were mixed on site. Black powder has an interesting history....if you like that sort of thing.
     
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  12. Grizzley1

    Grizzley1 Well-Known Member

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    It's 75% carbon, Sharps.
     
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  13. Grizzley1

    Grizzley1 Well-Known Member

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    When I was in my early 20's and my youngest brother was in high school, little bro and a freind of his wanted to make home made model rocket motors and fireworks. They found a list of ingredients in an Encyclopedia Americana for black powder. (this was long before Algore invented the WWW and U tube) They borrowed a mortar and pestle from me to grind up the ingredients, this was made from turned wood and was more for looking cool on a desk than for real use but I digress.

    Anyway they couldn't find one of the listed ingredients, gum arabic' a binding agent, and didn't know you mixed it wet. So the potassium nitrate didn't permeate the charcoal sulfur mixture. It just kind of smoldered and stunk when they tried to use it in a recycled Estes model rocket motor. :)

    I offered to give them some of my BP I had for my rifles but they just said where's the fun in using store bought powder.
     
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  14. flboots

    flboots Well-Known Member

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    I would surmise that if you start buying the ingredients in large amounts the Feds would start being your very close friend.
     
  15. Grizzley1

    Grizzley1 Well-Known Member

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    You can buy hardwood lump charcoal in supermarkets, briquettes have a lot of impurities like clay in them. Pure potassium nitrate can be had in the form of stump remover, sulfur can be gotten from a gardening center along with the stump remover.

    None of them require anything but cash to purchase.

    A rotary tumbler from Harbor freight and some lead round balls for a muzzle loading rifle, and you have a ball mill for grinding the ingredients to a fine powder.
     
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