June 29, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Posted in Blackpowder | Leave a comment

The computer appears to have eaten my videos of the finished blackpowder. I’ll have to make more. Suffice it to say that it worked!

As predicted, the amount of water in my first batch of powder was high enough that it took quite a while to dry out enough to grind. I ended up making a second batch at essentially the same time, using a third as much water, and this took significantly less time. Live and learn.

Once it dried out, I ground the powder together, being careful to use a stone mortar and pestle. Very finely ground powder is a necessity, so I spent a very, very long time grinding. I found having a book next to me while I did this made the time go faster. When I had finally ground it to the point where I just couldn’t take it any more, book or no book, I decided I was done.

The next step involved passing the ground up powder through “a very fine sieve”, which I did with no problem. Thereafter, I was supposed to rewet the powder and pass it through a riddle or sieve. Biringuccio mentions that some people use vinegar, but that he prefers plain water. Once again, I used too much water. When I tried to pass it through the sieve, instead of getting nicely formed grains all I got was a soggy mush. I had to put the mixture aside to dry out for a few hours before I could resume. This time I got better results, though they were far from perfect. I think there was still a hair too much water in the mixture. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a sieve that wasn’t made of metal, so when it came time to push the mixture through, I wanted to err on the side of slightly too wet rather than on the side of “so dry it ignites spontaneously”. This is why I still possess all of my fingers, despite making blackpowder in my kitchen.

We tested the blackpowder by igniting it. Since I wanted to be as safe as possible (I mentioned that I made this myself, without any sort of quality control, right?) I decided to just put it in a little pile, rather than enclose the powder to make an explosive boom. Never having seen powder simply ignited outside of a container (such as a gunbarrel or cannon) I needed some sort of comparison. My husband had some FFF and FFFF powder lying about the house, so we made piles of these as well. My blackpowder tested favorably. The commercial powder burned slightly faster and with more of a “woophmf” noise, but my homemade powder was much hotter. It went through several layers of tin foil, whereas the commercial powder only burnt through one layer.

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