Make Black Powder: Quick, Cheap, Easy and High Quality

Make Black Powder: Quick, Cheap, Easy and High Quality

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: How to Make Fireworks

At some point fairly early in every pyro career we realize we need to be able to make good black powder (BP) from scratch. BP is used in aerial fireworks shells as lift and burst powder. It is also used, in one way or another, in almost every other pyrotechnic device and component–mines, stars, black match, and the list goes on.

Fireworks Black Powder Lift
Black Powder Used as Aerial-Shell Lift Powder

Sources of commercially manufactured BP are becoming harder and harder to find. Most sporting-goods stores and gun shops have stopped carrying real black powder. Instead they deal in BP substitutes such as Pyrodex® and Hodgdon Triple-Seven®. These products won’t work as shell lift powder. And even when real commercial black powder is available, it is relatively expensive.

So, availability and expense are the primary motivators to develop an ability to make your own high quality black powder. Add to this the desire that lurks in the heart of every pyro to “do it yourself” rather than rely on commercial sources, and it is downright irresistible.

The purpose of this project is to demonstrate a simple technique by which anyone with access to a few tools and the appropriate chemicals can easily produce high-quality granulated black powder. For use as lift and burst in aerial shells, and for many other uses, BP produced by this method is as good as or better than the commercial product.

Good quality granulated black powder simply is that powder which suits our needs in our fireworking hobby. The primary requirements are performance (power) and durability (hard enough grains) that compare favorably with commercial granulated black powder.

There are many ways to make black powder, and the project here has an overview of some of them. You’ll also find there a method to test black powder and compare it to certain standards.

But, we’ll be focusing on a simple, easy way to make high-quality BP that is not mentioned in that project…

Click here to learn this simple, easy way to make high-quality black powder.

184 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. clay says:

    Not talking about the ignition. Temp. But what is the actual. Burn temperature ? What temp is it burning at?

  2. Mike H. says:

    Hi Harry, can you tell me in your opinion, which powder is stronger? The ball milled with dextrin, or the red gum. Also which ever is stronger, can this powder be used for 1lb. Core burners if made with the 75/15 /10 mixture. Thanks.

  3. Mike H. says:

    If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s simple, first you must drill a fuse hole in the bottom of the mortar tube,insert the fuse,dump in the BP(approx. .75 oz.) drop the base ball in and light the fuse. That’s it.

  4. Ron Matthews says:

    My prime reason to make Black powder is primitive hunting using willow charcoal and pressing pucks in a wood mold with wood seperators drying and granulating I am getting velocity in the same arena as goex just slightly less using 50 cal patched round ball and FF rifle size granules.

  5. Alex says:

    Yo Gilliam, I been making fireworks for a while now and I love all your articles on how to make fireworks, every firework I have ever known (even some I didn’t know of) you told me how to make using chemicals at home, I’ve spent a lot of money on supplies and chemicals and I don’t regret spending a cent, also, what is the best type of BP for rockets of sizes 1-3 pounds? Can I attach several 4oz core burner rockets (I have bought the kit) to the central 1 pound large rocket? Also, why do you need a BATF explosive license to make flash powder? I’ve seen a lot of videos on sites like YouTube with people manufacturing powerful flash powder at home with no license and barely any pyrotechnic experience or knowledge. Thank you for everything, plez reply.

  6. David Peacock says:

    spell ck ,,,lol !!

  7. David Peacoc says:

    Is itegal for me to make black powder and sell to local stores ??


    • David,

      It is legal only if you have a BATF Explosives Manufacturing License. But, having said that, you will find that few, if any local stores will buy it from you. Number 1, they don’t know who you are, nor your quality. Number 2, they can already buy it from other suppliers, but chose not to, generally because of regulatory compliance hassles.


      • Ron Matthews says:

        Last time I checked with a dristributor it would cost me almost 50 dol to get 1 pound of FF powder to my door price of product shipping and hazmat fees Substitute stuf will not work with flintlock guns so i make my own FF and FFFF Also works great for lift and burstfor pyro enjoyment!!

  8. Gary says:

    I want to do the baseball test, but I do not see in the article how to package or fire the lift powder. How do I load and fire the tube with the baseball inside?

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