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Growing up in the country I’m surprised we didn’t get into more trouble than we did with everything we got up to. And one of my favorite things to make was gunpowder. We used it to help light fires in the wet, make small explosive devices for removing stumps and my grandfather even put us to work helping him to source the lead and materials he needed to create his own ammo. As I’ve gotten older, I can appreciate the risks we took, but I believe knowing how to make your own gunpowder is a smart move for any survivalist.

Gunpowder gives you an edge.

You can get a fire going with gunpowder. You can use it to create a few more rounds for your rifle, allowing you to continue hunting long after the world’s gone to shit and the rule of law no longer applies. Because one thing is for certain, you will run out of ammunition eventually, and when that happens all of your firearms have just become expensive paperweights. And that’s the last thing you want.

Of course, compared to the commercially made stuff what you’ll be making at home isn’t quite as good, but it’s better than nothing. I should warn you though that this post today is highly dangerous, and extreme care should be taken when doing this at home. You will need a clean and well-ventilated area to work, protection for yourself, your eyes and hands in particular, and of course, not do anything stupid like light up a cigarette while you’re working with highly flammable materials.

Common sense, right? And it goes without saying that you’ll only ever use this knowledge for legal means, and you’re fully aware of the consequences you’ll face if you don’t.

Right, let’s get to it.

Ingredients for homemade gunpowder

  • Potassium nitrate. Buy it at the store, or collect it at home by mixing urine and feces and scraping the white crust that forms after a few days. That’s potassium nitrate.
  • Burn a lump of sealed wood inside a sealed metal pot until the wood is converted into charcoal. It’s an easy process, or you can also buy it yourself.
  • It’s readily available at any gardening store, and you can sometimes even find it naturally in caves and other locations, just look for the rotten egg smell.

You’ll also need to prepare:

  • Set of digital scales to accurately measure each ingredient
  • Plastic spoon to scoop the right amount of each ingredient
  • 2 x large plastic bowls to mix the ingredients together
  • Mortar and pestle to finely grind the gunpowder
  • Very fine mesh sieve to remove any clumps and lumps

How to make homemade gunpowder

Now I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve been smart enough to buy everything from your local garden supply store (they will have all three ingredients readily available), and it’s far easier than trying to erm, collect these yourself.

First step is the grind.

Pour each separate ingredient into your mortar and pestle, and grind it. The goal is to turn each ingredient into the finest powder possible. After a while, you can empty the collection bowl, and run it through your fine mesh sieve to strain out any lumps. Once I’ve done this two or three times, the resulting powder is more than fine enough.

Second is the blend.

With this step you need to carefully measure out the proportions of each ingredient. The ratio we use is 75% potassium nitrate, 15 % charcoal and 10% sulfur. So if you were planning to make 100 grams of gunpowder, you’d measure out 75 grans of potassium nitrate, 15 grams of charcoal, and 10 grams of sulfur, and then slowly mix the three ingredients together in a large plastic bowl. Take your time, the better mixed it is, the better it will work.

Third step is the sift.

Using your fine mesh sieve, pour the whole mix through your sieve to remove any chunks that you might have missed, gently tapping and shaking it so the good gunpowder can fall through and collect in the second bowl. What you’ll have collecting is your gunpowder, and any chunks that managed to get stuck in the sieve can simply be discarded. What you’ve got now is a very high quality homemade gunpowder.

Testing your homemade gunpowder

But before you start using this in your ammunition or anything else, it’s important to test that you’ve got it right. Gunpowder should light and burn in a quick flash. If it doesn’t, or burns at a slow burn instead, somethings gone wrong and you’ll need to make another batch. You can test the quality of your gunpowder by taking a small spoon and spreading out a thin line of gunpowder on a non-flammable work bench.

Then light it. Of course, this should be done with safety in mind so make sure you’ve got adequate protective gear and a fire extinguisher on hand, but what you’re looking for is a flash. The gunpowder should light up almost instantly and burn out just as quickly. That means you’ve done everything right, and once it’s compressed into a reloaded piece of ammo, or a tube you’re using for fireworks, it’ll go off with a bang.

Now remember, we’re teaching you this because it’s an important bit of knowledge that could help you turn the tides on a bad situation. The Chinese became a superpower in ancient times because they were one of the first to properly master the use of gunpowder with their armies. When the SHTF, this bit of knowledge could help to ensure you’ve got the means to create an endless supply of ammunition, vital for keeping your family safe when there is danger at every corner, and you’ve not got a Walmart open for resupplies. Do not use this knowledge for anything illegal, and make sure you’ve taken adequate precautions when you’re making it. The ingredients are extremely volatile. Be safe people.

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