Skylighter Podcast #1 – Black Powder Q&A

Skylighter Podcast #1 – Black Powder Q&A

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: How to Make Fireworks

A week ago we asked you for your most “burning” questions about making black powder for fireworks. To be honest, we were completely overwhelmed by the response as we received over 260 comments and questions.

We had no idea that so many people were having problems with making black powder.

Since BP is the most critical component in fireworks making, it’s important that everybody understand the methods, applications and safety issues surrounding black powder.

So Harry and Bert got together and recorded the first in a series of podcasts all about Black Powder.

In the podcast Harry tackles the key chemicals and methods for making black powder as well as answering a ton of your questions about black powder components, sources for chemicals and much more.

Click here to download the podcast<—-30 minutes of black powder Q&A


Topics include:

  • Can I legally make black powder?
  • How do you make gun powder?
  • How can I make BP that is comparable to commercial black powder?
  • What is the best method for making black powder?
  • What are some of the other chemicals besides potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal that can be used to make black powder?
  • Can you buy black powder, and what is the advantage to making your own BP?
  • How can I make good BP without a ball mill?
  • Is there a big difference in BP power using the CIA or precipitation method and the ball mill method?
  • What’s the best type of wood to use for charcoal in making black powder?
  • How do I make granulated black powder like 2FG?
  • What is corning and why is this important?
  • How pure does my sulfur need to be? Will highly acidic sulfur still work?
  • How long can I store black powder before it loses its power?
  • And much, much more…


  1. Click here to download the podcast <==== 30 minutes of black powder Q&A
  2. Click here to download the Black Powder Cheat Sheet <==== super handy BP reference sheet

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

  1. David says:

    I have one of the dual drum ball mills “Chicago Electric” and have found the drive belts to be of low quality.They don’t last under the weight of running both drums with lead balls.I found that if you go to Wall World and buy flat replacement vacuum cleaner belts about the same size as original and use sissors to cut them into 3-4 small belt each.they last much longer.

  2. Frank says:

    Can I use regular rubbing alcohol instead of denatured alcohol on your Red gum black powder kit?

  3. Jay says:

    This is my second try at leaving this comment.
    I got ‘hard lead’ mill balls from skylighter, milled some airfloat to ‘clean’ them as mentioned, and threw that charcoal out.
    I milled some KNO3 in prep for some BP and the balls were not ‘shiney’ anymore, they look dull, just like fishing sinker lead.

    Normal or Not ?

  4. Clarence says:

    I “smell” different since I’ve been making black powder.

    The “smell” stays with me for days. I suspect it’s the sulfur?

    I’ve heard the TSA screens for certain explosives components on travelers. Do they screen for the KNO3 or sulfur? Should I be taking several days off before travelling to avoid trouble?

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