How To Make Gunpowder

Gunpowder and bullets

In olden times, after its original discovery, gunpowder has become more and more useful.  It has evolved from its initial use as fireworks. It is now used in modern artillery.

In some cases it even aids scientists in their research. An example of this is with paleontologists. While they study dinosaurs, it is very hard work digging the fossils out. The sad part is when they go through all that digging to only find no dinosaur fossil in the end. Now scientists are using gunpowder to blast through stone with pinpoint accuracy. They then slide over a camera through the hole to see if there is something worth digging down to.

We won’t be using gunpowder the same way but we can make cool fireworks with it. Here is a simple and short guide to help you create gunpowder.

  1. Gather your ingredients.  For the most part, the things you will need to create gunpowder are readily available through a chemical supplier or a drugstore. You are going to need three chemicals. First, you will need some Potassium Nitrate.  This is commonly known as saltpeter. This is a common ingredient found in fertilizers because it is high in Nitrogen. Next you will need Charcoal. Charcoal is produced by removing all the water from animal and vegetation substances by undergoing the slow process of pyrolysis. The last ingredient in the mix is called Sulfur. Sulfur is an element that is also a major component of fireworks. This is usually mined in foreign countries like Indonesia and Italy.
  2. Measure the components. For gunpowder to actually work, one must measure carefully. Gunpowder has to contain the correct proportions to generate the right chemical reactions to perform an explosion. The correct percentage ratios of weight should contain 75% of Potassium Nitrate, 15% of Charcoal and 10% of Sulfur.
  3. Process the ingredients. After getting the right ratios and the right measurement, it is now time to get all of the items together. Start by running the charcoal and sulfur through a ball mill.  (A ball mill is a grinder that rotates a vessel containing the material to be grinded along with a durable grinding media. As the vessel rotates the friction and the impact of the grinding media will pound the material to a fine powder.)  Do this for about four hours. After that, add the Potassium Nitrate and continue to mill it. Let it mill on its own for 24 - 48 hours. This resulting mixture is called meal powder. Continue milling and soon you shall create fine gunpowder.

Remember that gunpowder is a scary thing to make. That is why you need to take extra precautions. If you are not careful while making gunpowder, then you might be seeing a world of hurt; a whole lot more than you have bargained for.


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