Improvised Black Powder

Black powder can be prepared in a simple, safe manner. It may be used as blasting or gun powder.


  • Potassium nitrate, granulated, 3 cups (3/4 liter) (see Sect. I, No. 2)
  • Wood charcoal, powdered, 2 cups (1/2 liter)
  • Sulfur, powdered, 1/2 cup (1/8 liter)
  • Alcohol, 5 pints (2-1/2 liters) (whiskey, rubbing alcohol, etc.)
  • Water, 3 cups (3/4 liter)
  • Heat source
  • 2 Buckets - each 2 gallon (7-1/2 liters) capacity, at least one of which is heat resistant (metai, ceramic, etc.)
  • Flat window screening, at least 1 foot (30 cm) square
  • Large wooden stick
  • Cloth, at least 2 feet (60 cm) square

NOTE: The above amounts will yield two pounds (900 grams) of black powder. However, only the ratios of the amounts of ingredients are important. Thus, for twice as much black powder, double all quan¬tities used.


1. Place alcohol in one of the buckets.

2. Place potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur in the heat resistant bucket. Add 1 cup water and mix thoroughly with wooden stick until all ingredients are dissolved.

3. Add remaining water (2 cups) to mixture. Place bucket on heat source and stir until small bubbles begin to form.

CAUTION: Do not boil mixture. Be sure all mixture stays wet. If any is dry, as on sides of pan, it may ignite.

4. Remove bucket from heat and pour mixture into alcohol while stirring vigorously.

3 1 180x300 Improvised Black Powder5. Let alcohol mixture stand about 5 minutes. Strain mixture through cloth to obtain black powder. Discard liquid. Wrap cloth around black powder and squeexe to remove all excess liquid.

3 2 300x148 Improvised Black Powder

6. Place screening over dry bucket. Place workable amount of damp powder on screen and granulate by rubbing solid through screen.

3 3 251x300 Improvised Black Powder

7. Spread granulated black powder on flat dry surface so that layer about 1/2 inch (1-1/4 cm) is formed. Allow to dry. Use radiator, or direct sunlight. This should be dried as soon as possible, preferably in one hour. The longer the drying period, the less effective the black powder.

CAUTION: Remove from heat as soon as granules are dry. Black powder is now ready for use.

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