Last night for the first time in many years ( 45-46, YIKES!!!), I decided to "mix" up some black powder. Now in the past, I always mixed very small amounts in the 2-4 ounces sizes. I decided that I had ball milled enough ingredients to do something and it has been sitting for a few months now....I decied to make 1 full lb., all at once. I got brave! I mixed my potassium nitrate ( milled to -100 sieve) about the consistency of white table sugar ( but a tad bit finer), and my charcoal, much finer than flour, almost dust! Then the sulfur, which is the tough guy in the group! It is naturally oily to a degree, and clumps like crazy. Now, "normally" you'd not mix these ingredients dry, EVER! But, I had ulterior plans! I weighed each in turn, and added them to the same container. I measured the relative humidity prior to what I did, as too cool and too dry of weather is a VERY bad thing! Static is a big NO NO, as is friction. I did NOT MIX the dry ingredients! I poured in about 3-4 ounces of 91% rubbing alcohol...this helps wet out the dry ingredients, and makes the mixture far more "intimate", so the sulfur will actually "blend" into the mixture, instead of only sticking to the "outsides" of the other 2. A LOT of pyrotechnical books say to ball mill the charcoal and sulfur together to get a really intimate mixture, and even though there is not much of any real chance of any ignition or explosion taking place ( unless it is contaminated with the oxidizer: potassium nitrate) I chose not to even take that mere chance ( next to none) I kept it well removed from me! Carefully weighing each ingredient, is paramount to getting a good mixture to have decent black powder. Some have too much smoke, some are "lazy" and burn slowly, some have a lot of sparks and there is only one mixture I have found that works well every time. 75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal, and 10% sulfur. The ingredients are also important as far as purity and the actual names! Charcoal, some call it lampblack, it isn't! I use ONLY hardwood charcoal briquettes, smashed, crushed, and then finely powdered after hours/days of ball milling into a realy finely powdered mess! ( "don't try this at home" comes to mind about now! I mean unless you have a spare bathroom, and can open a window and have a positive air flow to the outdoors! Man it's a nasty mess!) And NEVER EVER use any charcoal that has ANY additives such as "match light" types! Then there's the sulfur...Never under any circumstances, use what is known as "Flowers of Sulfur". That's sulfur that has been washed in sulfuric acid to "purify" it. The result is a sulfur that contains high amounts of resdiual acid, that can and does cause explosions due to reactions to other chemicals such as metals ( aluminum, magnesium, etc.) Use only pure raw sulfur, prills, etc. It has been known to ignite spontaneously! I always get the purest (usp) types to work with. Meanwhile.....Back to the mixture.... I pour in the alcohol and it mixes readily with the sulfur ( does not dissolve it) and allows the sulfur to blend better than with water, as with water it tends to float and separate. I suppose that is why so many recommend to ball mill the sulfur and charcoal powders together. The alcohol is not much good for the potassium nitrate as it wets it out, but you need the nitrate to actually dissolve and blend in. After you carefully mix the combined powders and the alcohol, you get what feels like a sticky black, peanut butter like consistency. After it is thoroughly mixed, and it's evaporating quickly, you have to move quickly, but carefully, to make sure everything dry, is totally wetted out! Then you add a small amount of distilled water, and thin the mix, which also now allows the nitrate to dissovle and mix ino the charcoal, which is already now saturated with the wetted sulfur. Keep the mass in an airtight "soft" as in plastic container, which I normally never suggest as plastic can and does have a tendency to generate static and that's a big NO NO! BUT, you have a wet mixture, and as long as it stays wet, it is as safe as mud! Looks a bit worse though! ( I didn't bother to smell it!) After the blending, mixing, and yes I even shook it around awhile for the heck of it ( felt brave ya know?) I left it set. I used a small plastic spoon to take a sample and set in on a plastic sheet to dry overnight. This morning, I took the spoon and carefully flexed it to get the dry powder off, and placed it into a folded piece of paper, and gently mashed it into small pieces, and powder sized fragments. ( finger pressure only!) I took it ouside, spaced the powder into an 11 1/2 inch fold in the paper, set it up on a rock and lit the corner of the paper, (not the powder!). It was impressive, as I saw it equal to, or better than, the "Goex" brand I have used before. Talk about fast! POOF! Minimum amount of smoke but a distinct sound as it ignited and burned/was consumed in a split second. Note: If you ever decide to make your own black powder/s...don't do so in the kitchen/bathroom unless you meet at least one of the above criteria: 1) You live alone and don't mind the hideaous smell of burning silfur when you use the stove! ( that powder goes everywhere!) 2) you are an absolute 'clean freak', and can strip the stove/shower/toilet, etc. and clean every molecule of sulfur up! 3) You are single, or about to become single! ( then who cares..Right?) 4) You really don't like your roommates, or their friends! Now, you have a black sticky mass of goo that is pretty much worthless, for all intents and purposes.... Now comes the "hard part"...You get a small piece, of say 12 x 12 inches square, of window screen ( metal type works best) and nail it to a small frame to keep it stretched tightly. Under it, place either newspaper or a tray of sorts...( make one from aluminum foil) You are going to carefully and slowly "knead" the dough-like black mass through the screen. Making small sized particles, which will be left to dry, (outdoors in the sun is the best, on a low humidity day) the faster the particles dry, the better the powder is strength wise. After drying, CAREFULLY place the dry powder "granules" into a cardboard or similar "soft walled" container for safe keeping. ( Pringles cans are GREAT!) Don't use glass, or metal containers! Remember, plastic can cause real problems with static electricity, and black powder is tempermental about some things! ( Shock, friction, sparks, heat, etc) Keep it cool, dry, and away from any direct heat source and addiional sunlight.