22 August 2011

Making Your Own Gunpowder for Fun and Fireworks

...all the ingredients for gunpowder are readily available side by side, no questions asked, in any garden center or home-improvement store. Charcoal is sold for grilling, and sulfur comes in bags that say “sulfur” in big letters (nice old ladies use it for dusting roses). But the key secret I never figured out back then is that most brands of stump remover are little more than pure saltpeter.

... I always ground the ingredients separately with a mortar and pestle and then mixed them gently without further grinding. This results in a powder that burns energetically but slowly: perfect, it turns out, for making sparkler cones. _PopSci

Making your own fireworks might be fun. Displaying your pyrotechnic skills would certainly impress family members, friends, and co-workers. If you decide to give it a try, be careful.

There may be other reasons for some people to learn to make gunpowder. Sales of guns and ammunition have been on the upswing in the US ever since it became apparent that Senator Obama was likely to become US President. That trend continues, and many gun aficiandos have complained about high prices and limited availability for many types of firearm and ammunition. Mr. Obama favours a stricter control of firearms, and holds the "bitter clingers to their guns" in high disdain.

The day may come in the US when a person will need to know how to fabricate his own weapons, and cook up his own gunpowder. Well, probably not. But if it ever happens, knowing how to build weapons and cook gunpowder and primer material might be a valuable commercial skill.
WARNING! Creating and igniting pyrotechnic mixtures of any kind, including gunpowder, is inherently dangerous and is illegal in some places. Harmless experimentation, especially by kids, can be taken very seriously by the authorities, so an adult must always be present and take full responsibility.

How to make smokeless gunpowder

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