[8/20/17/ JAMES WALTON]  In the Chinese culture, there are four great inventions that are celebrated. You may have recognized them at the Beijing Olympics as they made an appearance at the games. They are: papermaking, printing, the compass, and gunpowder.

Although there is a widespread belief that the Chinese only used gunpowder for fireworks, they also used it in battle and for weaponry. While the Chinese did not put together the rifle as we know it, they were using the explosive nature of the gunpowder to create weapons to kill. There were incendiary arrows and exploding spears, but my favorite was the box of fire arrows that was held by a soldier.

In other words, it wasn’t as benign as the ‘just for fireworks’ claim that often gets thrown around. The mix was created by alchemists looking for an elixir of immortality. I find it amusing that even back then were trying to cheat death. I feel for the poor guy that tried this elixir and found that it did just the opposite!

What is Gunpowder Made Of?

The basic mix of gunpowder is universal and made of three main ingredients. There are no modifications that need to be made to these base ingredients–it’s merely a matter of finding them and mixing them.

Salt Peter – The best source for this is stump remover and ice packs. I am partial to the stump remover because of its consistency. It is already a fine powder and this makes mixing it much easier than using the thicker more granule pellets.

Stump Remover

Charcoal – Whether you decide to use brickets, homemade charcoal, or some activated charcoalfrom your stock, you will simply need powdered charcoal. I like to use the activated–again, for consistency and fine powder. This eliminates the step of having to powder it myself.

Sulfur – I get mine off Amazon. Though, my father in law is using a product for his garden that would probably be better. It would allow you to get two uses out of the product.


The Common Methods

Marble Mill – Many people who make gun powder use what is called a marble mill. It’s very important that you thoroughly mix your ingredients to get the best results. The marble mill is basically a container filled with marbles that is spun by another source. Most recipes call for a 12-hour mill with all three ingredients inside the mill.

Blender – A blender or a food processor can be used to make some great gunpowder as well. Again, if you can achieve a good incorporation of ingredients. Another method is to add a little water to the mix and dry the mix again. This helps with the bonding and the mix.

Pulverize – You can also use the old mortar and pestle method. The first time I made gunpowder, I used this method. It’s a punishing and grueling way to do it, but in a time where we don’t have many options, it’s good to know you can make it happen without electricity.

Common Mistakes

Though this is a straightforward process you will find that there are many ways to screw it all up!

 Not mixing it thoroughly.
 Varying the formula.
 Using ingredients that are not fully processed i.e. lumpy charcoal or unprocessed saltpeter..

Your Homemade Gunpowder Recipe


  • 75% Saltpeter
  • 15% Charcoal
  • 10% Sulfur

This is the formula no matter the batch size.


  • Gloves
  • Eye Protection
  • Breathing Mask
  • Glass Bowl or Container
  • Sifter or Colander
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Glass Jar (I save pickle Jars and stuff to drink out of)

::::::SAFETY FIRST::::::

Mix this stuff outside and make sure you use adequate protection. Assure your location has great ventilation if you are not mixing it in the outdoors. It is designed to explode and it is made of some pretty nasty stuff, none of which are meant for your lungs. Before you start, be sure you have on gloves, eye protection, and a breathing mask.

Thanks out to Gov't Slaves


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