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Making Black Powder


Making  |   Measuring  |   Primer Powder  |  Formula Calculator

I have a few Muzzle loading Black Powder Long Guns that I use for hunting. I have passed several on ahead to my daughters and their husbands, so that they could help keep the black powder tradition alive. That is all well and good, but now Obama wants to take our ammunition away; so we hear. Well, let's just do something about that. Learn to make your powder. Learn to make your bullets. Learn to load your own ammunition. And while you are at it, if you have not already, learn to defend yourself and your property.

Black Powder, by weight, is 75% Oxidizer (Sodium Nitrate), 15% Carbon (charcoal as a fuel), and 10% Sulfur (for lowering ignition temperature). The videos below go into detail explaining the process, and just how easy it is. Black Powder costs around $25 a pound commercially. You can make it yourself for less than $5 a pound. Will it be as good as commercial powder? Well, watch the videos and see for yourself.


  • Mill the ingredients down to as small as you can possibly get them. The finer, the better. The reason is simple; black gun powder is measured by volume. The finer the powder, the heavier the weight by volume; that is because the power is more dense.
  • If you mix the powder meal with a liquid, the density of that mix will be about half that of commercial powder. Thus, you may have to use twice as much powder weight by when measuring by volume.
  • The powder meal needs to be granulated before you shoot it in your guns. The smaller the granules, the faster the flash. The larger the granules, the less flash and more lift you get for propelling the bullet. That is why commercial powders come in F sizes. 1 F is for cannons; 2 F for long guns, 3 F for pistols, 4 F for Flintlock Flash powder.
  • You will also find, that the finer the mill, the less fouling residue.
  How to make Black Powder
Pay attention to the danger of grinding the three ingredients all at once.

  Potassium Nitrate NAO3
The web site sells in one pound increments, or 10 pounds. It is cheaper in the long run to get 10 pounds. You would then need 1 pound of sulfur and 1 pound of dextrin (and make your own charcoal). also:

They sell it by the pound. If you purchase 10 pounds Potassium Nitrate, you will need 1 pound of Sulfur.
A sulfur-free black powder yields only a little smoke. When it is used in a rifle, you see only a faint fog. When fired by a percussion rifle, the ignition poses no problems. When fired by a flint lock, you will get lots of misfires. So Sulfur lowers the temperature needed for ignition. A good priming powder has a high sulfur concentration. also:   Dextrin
A binding agent to hold the granules to the size of the wire screen holes.
As a commonly available replacement, liquid laundry starch will bind just as well, if not better than dextrin. To substitute liquid starch for dextrin, a solution of 50% liquid starch to 50% water by volume is used to dampen in the same way pure water would be used for the same application. Use about 1 tablespoon of starch water per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of black powder.

  Black Powder Chemicals Kit:
Skylighter's black powder kit contains enough chemicals for making 10 lbs. of black powder. You'll save about 20% vs. buying the chemicals individually. Its charcoal is made from soft hardwoods. Tests have shown that hardwoods can make very good powder. The secret of a good black powder is the charcoal alone!

  Ball Mill (at Harbor Freight Tools)
They carry a single 3 pound tub for $39 and a double for $49. I would buy the double.

  1 lb. Metal Tins and screw lids
This web site also sells different sized tins. Pint tins, 16 oz, are commonly used for black powder storage. Quart tins would also be small enough. Check your garage, you may have empty tins that once contained solvents, cleaners, strippers, fuels, refinishing products, etc. I have saved my empty powder cans, over the years. They sell for $10 each, on Ebay.  also:

  Black Powder Grades Size Chart

  Black Powder Formula Calculator
This tool will help you determine the amount of each Black Powder Ingredient you will need. Just type in the amount of powder you want to make and it will break the ingredients down for you. Nice too. Runs in Microsoft Excel and Open Office. To use the Calculator, Enter the amount of powder you want to make .... in the Pounds Box ..... then click on Calculate. Enter any amount in Pounds and it will be converted to Grains, Grams, and Pounds.

    How to make your Charcoal ingredient for black powder



100 parts KNO3 Saltpeter   &   24 parts cedar charcoal (no sulfur in this formula)

    Copyright 2003   All rights reserved.   Revised: 04/03/22.                                             Web Author, David Biggs
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