Making black powder question - Graybeard Outdoors
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-11-2020, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
Hcb
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Default Making black powder question

I'm down to the last steps of making BP. I need to mix the ingredients and form the granules. I've read too many ways to do this all over the Internet and not all of them were with the intent that the product would be used for a firearm. My test batch ended poorly. I thought I'd come to a place where folks are using BP like I will: mortars and cannons. Is this the right place/good place to ask questions regarding making BP?

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--HC
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-11-2020, 10:00 PM
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Sure ask away. We have had folks doing this in the past, and they may be here lurking yet and will speak up.
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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-11-2020, 11:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the reply. My questions surround the final mixing of the ingredients and processing into grains/granules. Various sources indicate different processing into a finished product. I took some milled charcoal and just sifted/mixed in portions of sulfur and KNO3 then added some 70% rubbing alcohol and kneaded it in a ball. I then pushed it through a kitchen strainer to form small grains. Just curious to see if it would work, this was only about a 1" ball. After drying I played with the grains and tried to pick them up with my fingers. I couldn't pick them up, they disintegrated into powder. That experience brought me here. These grains are not durable and, as such, unusable and not transportable. I wonder if the alcohol (70% alcohol 30% H2O) left a poor structure in the material, a sponge-like formation. Pressed cakes might make harder granules but the process is more involved. I've made some dextrin to add to the BP mix but before I go through more failed attempts I wanted to ask folks who've been through this and did it with the goal of having granules that can withstand handling and loading into cannon and mortars.

--HC
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 01:33 AM
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You can make a wonderful powder safely, and fully equivalent to store bought, with a suitable ball mill. It is probably the single most important piece of equipment you can get . The larger the ball mill the better the powder.I mix the powder wet so no problems with sparks, then just dry it to just before it is dry and then roll it between rubber rollers for grain size . It stays together just fine.
https://www.go2gbo.com/forums/88-bla...97-powder.html
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, Moose. Okay, I've done this twice now after reading through the link you posted some plus several other sources. Each test batch I wet with rubbing alcohol (70%), one very wet, one not so wet. I then screened the product. Each time I get fluffy, delicate granules. What I see is that it seems that the folks posting information about screening to form granules are using it for pyrotechnics which probably don't need to have the same durability as BP for firearms/cannons. That is, they won't be carrying it around a lot. It'll get put into a device and remain there until fired and probably not transported very much beforehand. This second batch I did, some I left caked and not screened. The screened stuff is fluffy crap but the cakes are hard. I am going to guess that back when BP was *the* propellant of war that they caked it and cracked it and sorted via screens. Even with 5% dextrin in the mix the stuff formed through the screen is not sturdy.

--HC
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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 01:25 AM
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How are you mixing it before or during being wet with alcohol? Have you tried just using water and drying it over a few days? Drying after being wet with water works well if you mix it as it dries,if not it will dry as hard as a rock and be very difficult to work.
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 08:07 AM
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What kind of set-up are you using with the rubber rollers, and how much pressure do the rollers exzert? Would something like a Maytag ringer work? Also, do you use graphite?
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 11:04 AM
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The rubber rollers save me from having to break it up ( still a little damp ) by hand , it is much faster with rubber rollers . I just found a old washing machine with rubber rollers and am going to see if I can get it , it may make a better roller.What I have now is very heavy. The roller gap is fixed at 1/8 inch so it will not move apart. The best charcoal I have used is willow and maple , graphite is not the same as charcoal.
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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-04-2020, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moose53 View Post
How are you mixing it before or during being wet with alcohol? Have you tried just using water and drying it over a few days? Drying after being wet with water works well if you mix it as it dries,if not it will dry as hard as a rock and be very difficult to work.
When I wet the comp I only add a very little bit of water (I'm currently adding 3-4% by weight). And then I process it right then.

--HC
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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-04-2020, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moose53 View Post
The rubber rollers save me from having to break it up ( still a little damp ) by hand , it is much faster with rubber rollers . I just found a old washing machine with rubber rollers and am going to see if I can get it , it may make a better roller.What I have now is very heavy. The roller gap is fixed at 1/8 inch so it will not move apart. The best charcoal I have used is willow and maple , graphite is not the same as charcoal.

Moose, I may be wrong, and I apologize if I am wrong, and I'm not trying to be rude or whatever, but I wonder if he was asking if you used graphite to treat the BP after it was granulated. There are some who, after granulating their BP, will "mill" it with no media to smooth up the granules and/or "mill" it with no media and add 1-2% graphite to the mix to coat the granules. Reportedly it makes the BP flow more smoothly and, one source indicated it might make the BP less prone to absorbing moisture (though I highly doubt that will make a difference).


FWIW.


--HC
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