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Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by KABOOM, Jul 20, 2016.


    KABOOM Monkey

    have built several muzzleloaders --flintlock & percussion cap --all from scrap /blueprints

    my black powder --DIY from those famous ingredients --
    are ball milled ( wet)--70 rpm --3 lb tumbler --lead balls etc --

    after 4 hours ---the paste is set out to dry in African sun---but the potassium nitrate /seems to crystalise out ----as WHITE crystals ---a crust is formed around the flat drying pan

    the black powder is lacklustre ---weak flash
    but when I mortar & pestle /oven ---dry the crystalised mess --- all over again --

    I get a good blast from my percussion pistol !!--flashes well==
    How can I stop this crystalising OUT----of the saltpetre?-from the drying gunpowder?-adding dextrin?
    this has been going on for months---
    most grateful for any sage advice
    3cyl and 3M-TA3 like this.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Welcome aboard, Kb. We'll have to wait for someone with bp making experience to chime in.
  3. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Your using to much Liquid when you are Ball Milling..... and the KNO3 is dissolving in the liquid, and then recrystallizing out as the Liquid evaporates.... Your big issue, that needs to be addressed is Static BuildUp, while Ball Milling, which is why the Liquid, in the first place... The amount of liquid to use is, the least amount, that allows the Ball Milling, WITHOUT any Static Buildup, but just enough to allow thorough Mixing..... If you live in a very DRY, Low Humidity, Area, where Static Buildup is an issue then you need more moisture, to be safe.... There is a reason that most BP Operations, are in High Humidity Environments......
    Ura-Ki, GOG and Pax Mentis like this.
  4. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    There are some good articles on making your own on the castboolits forum.
    Ura-Ki and KABOOM like this.

    KABOOM Monkey

    Wow ---many thanks BT---
    you hit the proverbial nail---far too much water ---
    takes a week too evaporate --hence oven drying ---crystalising of saltpetre is really annoying

    I have tried dry milling ---heard many horror scenarios of mangled dudes
    so --my lead ball mill is belt driven --runs on insulated bearings on wood posts
    far from the motor -----all to avoid static --
    no contact with ground or metal is paramount ---static is not a prob

    but dry milling --yielded such a fine powder --like talc --
    does not flash well --slow detonationwhen compressed in a gun barrel--ie a -one second delay occurs between the percussion cap blast __& the obviously bigger main bang!
    I read of a dextrin 5 % addition to the mix --when wet -
    will this stop the white crystals forming ?
    or do I mill to a courser 2 f powder granules ----instead of very fine GP?

    sTILL learning /experimenting ---illegal to purchase CommercialGP here in the African back woods
    I used fireworks silvery flashpowder last year ---with devastatingly superb results --huge blast - very intense
    from 70 grains of firework powder--
    but my supply of Roman candles dried up
    so --I am still trying to DIY decent Gunpowder for muzzleloaders --the hard way
    all I get is rather poor blast /low MV --with my flintlock / perc cap rifles --lead ball 40 cal
    2 inch depth in pine log @ 20 meters --not very impressive --
    maybe I need to alter the std formula ?? my charcoal is local hardwood --maybe that's the problem ?
    appreciate any help on this dilemma

    regards --KB
    Ura-Ki likes this.
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Mag Dust & Sulfur is way to unpredictable for MuzzleLoading FireArms.... Good way, to have BAD Outcome.... Even the KClO3 based Fake BP, use LOTS of Burn Moderators to keep the Burn Rate/Pressure in check, and stable... You need to stay with SMALL Batches... Like 50 Grams or less, until you get your process down PERFECT.... Then slowly scale up, to NEVER more than 1 Kilo Batches.... More than that is a prescription for disaster.....
    Ura-Ki and Witch Doctor 01 like this.
  7. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    I've never made BP, but I understand they use iso alcohol instead of water, then you prill the wet mix thru a screen to get better burn rates. What wood are you using for your charcoal?

    Ura-Ki likes this.
  8. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    Yeah hardwood is part of the problem, here in the US it's willow, I have ground up cottonwood which think will work, what say you BT, I have all the ingredients, milled up using SS balls in a rock mill.

    BTW Duda Diesel has wonderful Sulfur, apparently from making low Sulfur diesel, much better looking than garden sulfur.

    Ura-Ki likes this.
  9. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Belt drives have, and always have had, static build up problems. Make sure there's a way to bleed off a charge.
    Ura-Ki likes this.
  10. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I was a chemist, so Carbon, is Carbon, to my mind, and I rarely differentiated between Types, and Sources. Static is the REAL BugaBoo, in this effort. Get a discharge, anywhere near the Mixed Dust, and Boom, your operation, is History.... The Commercial Process, is to Mix the Input Ingredients, in a Ball Mill, while wet, with a Liquid that does NOT allow any of the Ingredients to dissolve in it... This is where the OP is going wrong. KNO3 dissolves in water, BIG TIME, and this is where his process has issues... Also the Liquid needs to evaporate at reasonably LOW Temps, or you need to use a Vacuum Evaporator, to draw off the Liquid. This leaves a Cake, like Mixture, that is then carefully broken up, and the run thru a Sieve Screening process, that causes the Batch to be separated into the different Granule Sizes. (FG, FFG, FFFG, FFFFG) "Course to Ultra-Fine"... It is then packaged in a NonConductive, Static Free, Environment. Typical Batches are usually less that 100#, and are ALWAYS Stored in Separate Blast-Proof locations, while between Processes. ALWAYS Remember that BP is a Class A Energetic, which means it can take an Instant dislike to you, at ANY Moment.
    Ura-Ki and MountainMariner like this.
  11. KABOOM

    KABOOM Monkey

    Well --so very grateful to BT Post /AZ rancher / ghrt--
    so much astonishing feedback &wisdom--now I am much wiser--thankyou all

    will follow that advice very intensely--
    Static ---I now realise it does build up --even on V rubber belts--
    got to be extra careful
    BTW -- what is MAG dust?--magnetic dust?
    and SS balls ?
    wonder if my crude cast lead balls ---wear /contaminate the half Kilo
    BP dust?--I read somewhere --lead is ancient depleted uranium--
    nasty toxic metal --but it mills GP very quick---

    Question --how can I add something to my fine milledGP powder --that will
    act as a catylist ---or give the BP boost /speed up the flash off rate ?
    as is --I normally use a old frizzen /chunk of flint --to spark off a teaspoonful
    if it flashes quick with a flint generated spark ---its ok
    but this fine new batch --is lacklustre --takes a flaring match to ignite --burns awfully slow!

    Id/loaded a pyro site ---for fireworks ---
    Chinese add aluminium powder to get a silvery flash --
    one used potash perchlorate --instead of Saltpetre--mixed with S & Carbon
    to make highly reactive Black powder
    but all I want is a decent std KNO3 batch --to fire that lead ball a lot faster--
    Roman candle silvery powder is very powerful --used to give a substantial recoil!
    now I get a very poor delayed blast !
    maybe the vacuum idea will remove any traces of H2O-
    or isoprynyl alcohol will have to substitute water

    Question ---how much water ? in the 3 ingredients --a thick paste --like cake mix ?
    or do I make it similar to bread dough?--then start milling?---
    ( it was a watery soup before ---no wonder the Nitate crystalised out of the milled mixture)
    but this was a pre-caution against static spark ( my rock tumbler is a small steel gas cylinder)
    mounted on wooden blocks/pillow bearings --v belt drives the outer--cylinder surface THRU hardwooden D IY pulleys---to get slow RPM----
    but that static now worries me --got to install a long copper insulated ground wire somewhere!

    ok ---I am grateful for all the ideas & input --so much I never expected !
    appreciate All the expert advice --
    now to get the bull by the horns ---

    NB trying to figure out how to post many--fotos of my bush factory/primitive DIY effort
    fotographs save a thousand words --
    glaring evidence of lack of expertise --all faults revealed in digital color -much to my shame -
    but ---got to get it right---
    not sure what a image URL is ---?
    no expert at PC jargon --but will keep trying to post fotos

    finally ---tumbler and dried BP clumps

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2016
    Ura-Ki likes this.
  12. duane

    duane Monkey++

    While I don't know the details, we had a small commercial plant making either black powder or a substitute in New Hampshire and it blew up and killed two people, the owner was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 to 20 years. Sounds like it could be a touchy thing to do. I have seen pictures of the first Dupont plant to survive, a couple early ones blew up, and it had 3 massive walls, and a roof and one wall designed to vent the explosion and save the rest of the plant. I know that in the past they used 2 processes to make cannon powder, one wet and milled, the other mixing the 3 parts dry at the time of use, but I don't know if that is applicable to rifle or pistol powder. I made a few ounces of gunpowder as a kid, mixed it wet, broke it up, and made firecrackers, didn't really work well. While it would be a good thing in a long term SHTF situation, it is beyond my limited skills and smokeless powder requires a whole raft of inputs and resources that look very difficult to reproduce. I wish you luck in your search and would be very interested in seeing any results, good or bad, as it is a very interesting subject.
    Ura-Ki likes this.
  13. KABOOM

    KABOOM Monkey

    Many thanks --Duane --
    scary ---milling this powder ---I never realised it can explode so easily
    luckily --I am rather dumb /driven --but careful --loner
    if it blows --hopefully only I will be fragged!

    Many have warned me --thankyou for the advice --
    will use water --and watch for Static ---

    Ura-Ki likes this.
  14. KABOOM

    KABOOM Monkey

    Many mistakes later ---a rough percussion pistol --
    only one shot -----and its a mission to reload /clean nipple/barrel- etc
    but its serendipidy ----finding amazing challenges --
    building a shotgun now --Landrover steering as 50 cal barrel--
    scrap parts from old blade springs --lot of blacksmithing
    tempering --forging ---quenching /casehardening --
    ---then I get Track of the Wolf catalog ---WOW !
    can/t beat hi -tech mass production --nice looking Kentucky rifles etc --embarrassing? YES

    but ---building DIY from scrap -metal--is worth it-- all me own sweat



  15. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Living in Mobile, AL, we have a very high relative humidity and I have never added any liquid to my milling. In fact, never even heard of adding liquid to the ball-mill until I saw this thread. After dry milling, I add water to make a paste and form cakes to dry. These are screened to get the grade powder I am looking for. The shake is added to the next batch of paste.
  16. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    MAG dust = Magnesium
    SS balls = Stainless Steel

    Lead Balls will work, just wear and add lead to the powder.

    BTPost likes this.
  17. KABOOM

    KABOOM Monkey

    OK -- sounds good--thanks --
    er --where does magnesium dust----fit in to black powder?
    sounds like its used in fireworks?---I think the Luftwaffe dropped magnesium enhanced bombs on London
    in 1942------created firestorms ----so did the USA on Tokyo 1944 --or was it aluminium ?

    what would happen if I added mag dust --to black powder ?
    sounds dangerous --need more research --
    regards-- KB

    Thankyou for the tip --
    where can I find the "castboolits forum "?
    is it part of this forum --or another website?
    most grateful--- KB
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2016
  18. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

  19. KABOOM

    KABOOM Monkey

    Got it ! --Thankyou -MountainMarine--
    read excellent articles or threads on BP milling --but-all verycryptic- secretive formulas
    nothing revealed--yet

    so I tried to register on castboolits ! to lean more !
    OH dear --dog chasing tail all day--
    what a nightmare process ! --easier to hack into Kremlin covert files--

    all I wanted was to ask questions --on BP formulas & methods
    but ---their URL email activation /registration process--requires a PHD in computer-science or something----(magic?)

    will try elsewhere
    many thanks-- KABOOM
  20. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+

    The process that makes black powder from gun powder from gun powder is called corning.
    They take the black powder and add water to it until the black powder is just wet enough so that it will hold its shape, I think at this point its called "cake". When the cake is dried it is then crumbled, its now granular black powder.
    The different sizes of granules are screened for size.
    In the US the finished black powder is coated with graphite dust to dissipate static charge.

    When I tried to made black powder 20 years ago it was almost dangerous after corning it.
    The original gun powder was kind of a joke.
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