Saltpeter Crystals

March 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Posted in saltpeter | Leave a comment

saltpeter crystalsI have glanced into my saltpeter bucket several times over the past month or so, and it looked like nothing was happening. The bottom of the barrel was still a sludgy brown and the sticks were just brown. I was very disheartened.

But yesterday I took some of the sticks out to put in a jar for display at the A&S champions. I figured that even if the experiment had failed, then I could at least show what I had been trying to and let people see the end result. However, when I took the sticks out and was able to look at them away from their dark brown background, and to look at them in better light, I could see that the saltpeter had crystalized!! It’s simply that the crystals were also dark brown, and I hadn’t been able to see them inside the bucket. It was quite exciting.

Judging by the color of the crystals, the saltpeter is filled with impurities. It would not be safe or effective to use this batch for gunpowder. However, I had several illuminating discussions with other artisans at the A&S champions yesterday, and I am now armed with lots of ideas for improving my process. I am going to try again when the weather is reliably warm. (I don’t want my solutions to freeze, and March is unpredictable when it comes to temperature.) I also need to find a wooden bucket I can use for the project.

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