I am not going to get into the exact composition and ingredients to make black powder, as it's easy to find almost anywhere, and available commercially. What I wanted to let you know in this thread, is what you may see or find, especially IF you happen to be making up your own batches of black powder. Things happen, that are strange! Nearly every schoolboy knows the ingredients and the measurements (by weight, not volume) are 75%-15%-10%. It's all about the process. When you 'normally' make up your black powder, you use the 3 basic ingredients and, measure them out carefully. You then have a choice of HOW you mix them for the best results. Some mix by hand, some ball mill them, and some use additional techniques such as wetting out and screening, or by wetting out and corning. The screening and corning are both good methods. But it's best to ball mill the mixes before that step. Some even use a binder such as RED GUM to get satisfactory results. It's faster than most methods....No ball milling needed! That saves time and money! The "trick" to most black powder lies in 2 things: 1) the type of soft wood used to make the charcoal. 2) the amount of moisture added prior to screening or corning. Screening is one of the simplest, but messy process'. You have to have just enough moisture to bind the ingredients then force them thru a screen of the appropriate size then dry the "grains" as quickly as possible. ( If you don't, you'll have one big gelatinous mess that is garbage!) I did that, not once but twice! Both were 5 lb. batches each and that's costly! The "corning" process is similar, where you have to dampen the mix, and blend it by hand. Then you "press" the dough into small thin wafers that resemble hockey pucks. You have to dry them rapidly, then afterwards break them ( by hand) into small pieces and then "screen" by sieve (only) no forcing! That way you get your grains. This is all time consuming and messy. But it is what has worked for a long long time. You'll need a lot of screens in various sizes to get the right sizes of grains and that is a mess in itself, and there will be a lot of dust involved! Now I am about to tell you about an "accident" which happend as I was trying to make batches of black powder. I was making mess after mess...I was totally ready to throw in the towel. The cost and mess and ruined screens were getting to me. I had done everything just so-so and yet it was always a bad mix in the end. I managed to get it finally resolved, by using a LOT less water ( and I had even tried using 91% alcohol...but no dice!) I ended up hand screening the doughy mess and got actual grains of black powder, that actually worked very well.... BUT, there's a process that I had started and was too busy to keep track of, and it got away from me....I had placed the "what is referred to as green powder" or simply "hand mixed ingredients", into the ball mill and forgot about it! Now that can be a VERY BAD THING to do! Most ball mills use lead balls to grind the ingredients to a finer and more intimate mixture prior to wetting out the mix and doing one of the other process'. I had tried several things and was disappointed and didn't want to use the lead balls, as I had been told long ago that the lead will impart a coating to the powder, making it nice and shiny, but harder to ignite. (Most commercial powders have a coating of graphite.) I also knew that I had tried brass balls and even 3/4 inch brass rods cut to fit inside the drums. Not a good result. So I bought some glass squares ( rounded) that are used in the bottom of floral decorations, and that too was a miserable failure! I knew you should NEVER use the ceramic type of balls ( they spark!) or the stainless steel balls as they can cause ignition as well. So, I was stymied for awhile. My powders were terrible and I was about to quit,then I finally found the right media for my ball mills. MARBLES! I bought a bunch of kids glass marbles and they work pretty darned good, at least for me anyway! I put 50 in the first batch and it was just less than a disaster. So, I put in 100 marbles which was half a drum full, and then tried that. It was better, but something was still missing! I even changed my charcoal type and source ( advised to do so by a PGI Master) "Pyrotechnical Guild Institue". But again, nothing was working. I experimented with milling wet, then only alcohol. It just got worse and worse as I pushed it! By complete accident, I've discovered something that was great and horribly frightening, all at the same time. I had left my one ball mill running, for 4 hours! Now that's NOT advisable! (Now when I run my ball mills, I don't have a bunch of sandbags and a wooden crate to keep things from getting tossed around, IF anything should go wrong. I do have an old small refrigerator, which died long ago, and I used it as a cabinet. I can put 2 ball mill units inside and I leave the door propped open about 6 inches to VENT, if there should be a problem. I also use a long extension cord and keep the whole thing covered in heavy plastic totes, which will fly upwards, absorbing any shock and help to dissipate any sudden noises! (The refrigertor is stripped clean inside) The long extension cord is NOT plugged in until everyone is safely away ( 50 feet or more) and unplugged and let the mills sit "quietly" for a half an hour before I even touch that refrigerator.) What happened is a mystery to the PGI master and a manufacturer of fireworks and black powders. I was asked IF I could duplicate it again and again. I did. ( I ended up with 20 lbs of it!) What happened was that by milling for twice the recommended time, the mixutre ( dry by the way) had become a whole new dimension in powders. It came out a nice light gray color. We did figure that part out, as the mix was dry and the white + yellow + black will become gray. If it is "wetted" it then becomes a nice black! Ok, so we get the color, but what we did not/do not, to this day understand, was the dramatic increase in power. So I did a burn test. It nearly detonated in my face. It doesn't BURN per se, as it just goes OFF! It is similar in ALL aspects to that of "FLASH POWDERS", except none of the chemicals used to make flash powders is used. Most are "controlled" substances today anyway! ( Chlorates and Perchlorates) I have no way to test the energetics and volatility of this powder, but it is absolutely dangerous for all accounts. If it were EVER placed in ANY black powder firearm, or say a cannon, there would be catastrophic results. It would destroy a weapon and turn it into lethal shrapnel. Not what YOU or I want! I put less than a tablespoon of this new ( what I now call "COYOTE") powder on a single square of toilet paper, laid flat on the ground, and proceeded to light the corner of the paper. I almost made it safely away! It went off so fast, my son was videotaping the result and he was 12 feet away, and it blinded him for a few minutes...I was busy moving and did not watch the flash, but it lit up some large area of the neighborhood, and made one heckuva "whoosh", nearly exploding. He said NOT to call him to videotape anything I make, ever again! Gee go figure! I think he got shaken by the sheer power and volume of smoke and white flame...I was. ( hair grows back...in time) So, if you are ever making your own black powder and happen to come across this stuff.....My suggestion to you is simple: wet it out! Make it black, and keep it safe. Next, I am "experimenting with some really volatile stuff: magnalium (a 50/50 mix of fine magnesium/aluminum powders) and zirconium powder( seen those 12 gauge shells adverised as: "dragon's breath"?) Now that Looks like FUN! (I already have the sugar rocket fuel and smoke compositions down pat!) Remember, when it comes to chemicals and chemistry, IF IN DOUBT, DON'T!