DIY Projects

How To Make Gunpowder The Old Fashioned Way

Given any SHTF scenario, one of the big questions that always needs to be asked is “How long is this going to last?”.  This directly drives our prepping plans for everything from water storage, stockpiling food, medicines, and ammunition.

Who know what man-made or natural disaster could result in an extended period of having to be self-sufficient?  Once your food runs out, how are you going to replace it?  If your plans include hunting, then you are going to need ammunition.  Now, what if your ammunition runs out?

The critical component of ammunition is gunpowder.  Die Hard Survivor has supplied us with a set of instructions to make gunpowder the old fashioned way.

“The potential of a long-term bug out situation is why preppers believe it’s so important to understand the skills on how to make essential items such as weapons and specifically, gunpowder.”

He goes on to say that making gunpowder is actually quite easy, that the hard part may be finding the ingredients required to make it.  Fortunately, there are substitutes for some of the ingredients.

“In an apocalyptic scenario however, making black powder is the easy part. What would be really challenging is attaining these ingredients in the first place. Charcoal would be the easiest, since it’s fairly easy to make on your own. Willow, soft pine, western cedar, and cottonwood trees are most commonly used for making black powder.

Sulfur is bit trickier. Depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to get a hold of it in a grid down scenario. Fortunately black powder can still be made without sulfur. Simply mix the potassium nitrate and charcoal together with a 80/20 ratio. It won’t burn as well, but it will still work. Sulfur can also be substituted with iron-oxide (rust).”

Potassium nitrate?  Well, where does that come from or how can I make that?  He does not explain how the term originated, but we are supposed to use what is call the “French Method” to make it.  Interesting recipe for that particular ingredient.

“Your most challenging obstacle will be finding the potassium nitrate. The only natural source of this material can be found in bat guano, and I’m willing to bet that you won’t have an easy time finding that. You’ll have to make your own.

Traditionally this was done by what’s called the “French method.” You have to mix urine, manure, and straw together. Periodically, more urine is added and mixed over and over again over the course of several months to a year. Then water is poured through the mixture and filtered through wood ash, causing potassium nitrate crystals to appear, where they can then be separated.”

A second method for making potassium nitrate is described that is a bit more modern, but it also takes considerable amount of time.

“A more modern method involves a metal drum with a drainage valve near the bottom. A screen mesh is placed inside, and manure, water, and urine is dumped in and mixed on top of the mesh.

You seal it up tight and let it sit outside for 10 months. Then you drain the liquid into a wood ash filter, and let it set in a shallow, wooden or plastic container to dry. Once the water dries, potassium nitrate crystals will remain.

These aren’t the only methods though. The Army’s Improvised Munitions Handbook has a recipe for making potassium nitrate that is a lot faster than what I explained above, and it also contains its own procedure for making black powder.”

Making you own gunpowder is something you may never have to do.  But it is a skill that would come in handy in a long-term survival situation if you wanted to keep wild game in your diet, and were completely dependent on firearms.

The original article (warning – it is one of those multi-page articles) is over at:

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