Want to Start a Homestead but Not Sure How?

Sign Up and Get Your FREE Book, "How To Homestead No Matter Where You Live."

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder (with Pictures)

    This post may contain affiliate links.* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here to read our affiliate policy.
    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

    How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    DISCLAIMER: This post is for informational purposes only. Sulfur is flammable and toxic. The mix is strong enough to give you third-degree burns, and just one spark can set it off. You cannot take this stuff for granted. The ingredients are bad for your eyes as well, and experts always mix them in well-ventilated areas.

    Black powder, the original gunpowder, can be made from sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. Even if you never make your own gunpowder, these items are worth having on the homestead, anyway. In fact, they all have a place on the homestead for one use or another.

    Are you going to be firing a black powder rifle with your homemade black powder? Likely not. Still, making black powder can be a lot of fun. It can be used for fireworks, and it’s a great firestarter.

    Black powder and a magnifying glass can be as reliable as a match! From the homeschooling perspective, you can show your kids the power of a chemical reaction, and this one will really get their attention.

    Want to save this post for later? Click Here to Pin It on Pinterest!

    The following tools are required:


    You are going to need a few items to make this process work easily. You will want to mix in a ceramic, glass or plastic container. You cannot mix in something that could potentially spark, for reasons I hope you understand.

    Fine Mesh Sieve | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    Make sure you have a fine-mesh sieve, wooden spoon and a plastic or glass container to measure in.


    Sulphur | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    There are several homestead uses for sulfur. It can be a feed supplement for livestock as it can help with digestion. You can also use it as an antiparasitic or an antifungal. It's also a terrific way to lower the PH level of your soil.

    Potassium Nitrate

    Stump Remover | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    You will find this product also called Salt Peter. It is most commonly sold as a stump remover. Having something like saltpeter around on the homestead can be an immense help. You can use it for its intended use as Spectracide or a stump remover. It's also used in agriculture and can add nitrogen to your garden soil.


    Black Gold | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    I am very picky about the type of charcoal I use for black powder. When I make it, I buy activated charcoal. I want the charcoal to be fine powdered already. I do not like going through the hassle of messing around with powdering ingredients. I use black powder primarily for fun, so I want it fast and easy.

    Activated charcoal has tons of uses on the homestead. You can use it medically, and to clean and even to brush your teeth. I brush my teeth with activated charcoal once or twice a week and its abrasive nature as well as absorbing qualities get those things just as pearly white as possible.

    Step by Step

    1. Measure out your ingredients using the jar. 75% potassium nitrate or ¾ of the jar.

    Potassium Nitrate in a Jar | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    2. 15% charcoal

    Charcoal in Jar | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    3. 10% sulfur

    Sulphur in a Jar | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    4. If you don’t have a scale or the patience to figure these percentages, use the method that I have used above. It may not be exact, but I promise, it will light up just the same.

    5. In the next step you will mix these ingredients together. The quality of your mixing will dictate the quality of the finished product. Some people add rubbing alcohol to the mix and sun-dry it. I have found that a quality, fine mesh strainer can be used to make a great mix.

    Mixing Black Powder Ingredients | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    6. Take a little mix at a time and tap the sides of the strainer with a wooden spoon. This will hurry the process through the strainer and allow you to incorporate the ingredients in a way that regular mixing will not.

    This is a method used in baking called sifting your ingredients. It’s very effective in making black powder. It also shaves serious time off mixing.

    Straining the Ingredients | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    7. After using the strainer, the first time you will have a few clumps of sulfur left behind. Break them up and push them through the strainer.

    8. Stir the mix with a wooden spoon once you run it through the fine mesh strainer.

    Stirring the Mix | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    9. Put the mix through the strainer at least three times. Remember, this stuff is all about well-mixed ingredients. From here I will have a mix that is ready to burn.

    10. Then the fun part comes. It's time to test it out! I use a little bit of the local mailer that hits my box from week to week. It's not good for anything else!

    Black Powder Lined Up | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    11. Once the mix catches fire, you will know it! Be sure to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.

    12. From there, store it in a glass or plastic container.

    13. If your powder isn’t working out, you can add some rubbing alcohol to moisten the mixture. Spread the mix out and allow it to dry. This should increase its performance.

    Black Powder Burning | How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder

    Homestead Fireworks

    One of the things you might miss about living off-grid and far from a major city is the joy of thundering fireworks in times of celebration. You may find that the sky doesn’t light up but for the stars. For most nights, that is highly acceptable. It's hard to argue with the heavens against the backdrop of space.

    Still, at the very least, the 4th of July rolls around and you want to hear the screaming and popping of fireworks to celebrate the birth of this great nation.

    One of the most fun uses for your black powder is to use it in the creation of fireworks. Here is a massive dump of DIY fireworks links. Same rules apply. Be very careful with all of this. It's not impossible but it can turn out really bad if you don’t take precautions!

    Like this post? Don't forget to Pin It on Pinterest!

    You May Also Like:

    Are You a Prepper in the City? Visit Urban Survival Site
    Are You Ready for The Collapse? Visit Collapse Survival Site

    43 thoughts on “How to Make Old-Fashioned Gunpowder (with Pictures)”

    1. This is what is know as “corned powder” an very early version of black powder . And is a very dangerous and foolish thing to be playing with. You run a real risk of being burned badly and even blowing yourself up. One spark is it takes to set this off

      • This is a really poor process. If would be hard to hurt yourself with this because the process described here will produce lackluster powder.

    2. Old timers would dampen their mix with stale urine. It’s loaded with several types of nitrates. Mix to a paste, spread thin and Sun dry. Re-crush to whatever fineness you’re after. A clothspin is handy?

      • I think this might be some confused folklore.

        Urine contains Urea, ammonifying bacteria in soil changes into ammonia, nitrifying bacteria then turns it into nitrites then nitrates. This process also takes a very long time. This is part of the process of how potassium nitrate is made naturally.

        It is true that wet powder is safer to work with.

        So I can see how the folklore probably got mixed up. But peeing on your gunpowder and expecting nitrates to be add is a misconception.

        • They are adding it in from a different but simila steps for B.P. Farming.
          But.. Pouring piss on your Powder is only going to ruin it. Even if you had eaten a Pound of Magnesium and a Block of Methamphetamine. I KNOW, Noone likes a PissyBlanket.. but I am sure the same goes for WetPowder. Might as well throw your bullet at em’s! The IsaAl. is a good way to Freshen settled powder, yes, it takes a few Hours in the sun on a flat sheet but always quicker and a Dump&Do.

    3. I don’t think this is a good idea to publish. There are enough “hotheads” out there without you publishing dangerous instructions

      • I understand the homestead DYI and off-the-grid concepts but anybody can read this powder recipe and make it, but “anybody” also includes kids and over zealous fire makers. Homestead website has many great ideas only this one borderlines irresponsible. Wish you would take it down.

        • Boo flicking Hoo! Go whine else where where stop trying to let your fear dictate other people’s lives. You want a real brain buster? Go read the Anarchist Cookbook. And Steal This Book.

        • Irresponsibility lives in the hearts and minds of the individual not the tool. That is what makes a hammer a tool to some and a weapon to others. That is why a 12 gauge shotgun sat in the corner of my grandmother’s Livingroom for 35 years, passed by countless of time by grandkids and relatives, without one single incident. What has changed? Education & Personal Responsibility.

      • It is a survival site.if it offends you,you are free to move on. Hitler put flouride in the water,then started gun registration, then rounded up and murdered millions of helpless jews. if they had only been able to defend themselves, but wait they had no powder, no guns, no ammo , they were restricted from the knowledge that could have saved them and you wish to do the same because of what a deranged criminal would do. Dont punish or with hold from others on the account of the actions of criminals. you are with holding or punishing innocent people for what a deranged criminal [ might ] do. Thats like blaming my gun for what anothers has done. silly isnt it ?

      • And here you are.. Sorry it’s a step left from your TidePod and AnalFisting challenge. Insted of pretending yo be a mommy, try Accepting that it may not be a good idea telling ones Teaching and Sharing knowledge THAT CAN SAVE Lives what Shouldnt be shared. We all become Teachers once we accept we will Forever remain students. Knowledge isnt used by the Teacher.. but the Student, and it’s up to them HOW They use it. So Please, go prevent YourOwn Child/ren from Learning and NOT the Rest of us.

    4. Good Day.

      Yes on the black powder issue. This recipe is available on many other sites, thus no use of removing it here, at least now you get a trustworthy source of info on what tom do and what not.
      Survival is now in this time of our lives the only option, especially here in Africa.
      Soon we will be without all means of going in to a shop and buy what you need, prepping and survival skills will be the only resource from now on for the indefinite future.

    5. Why are people so freaked out about FLUORIDATED water? It helps keep your teeth strong.
      Many people do not own firearms that use black powder now a days. It has not been seriously used for several HUNDRED YEARS. In a modern hunting situation ;you need to be a very accurate shot if you’re using a black powder rifle. you have to kill the animal on your first shot. If it’s only wounded;it might escape while you’re reloading your rifle.

        • Yes, if you want to use fluoride buy fluoride tooth paste and fluoride mouth wash. It should be a choice. The idea of ingesting this chemical it is ridiculous.

      • You are assuming you will always be able to get what you can get today. How many people do you know today can feed themselves without a grocery store? Now how many people do you know that can find ammunition without a sporting good store? Old School ways may be the only option you have one day.

      • There has been no study showing sodium fluoride helps teeth. It was given as a reason to put it in the water as the Nazis and Russians did. If you are stripped of the ability to buy bullets, people will have to make them.

    6. I’ve made black powder for years and it’s a blast.(pun intended) Just a few things. Make absolutely sure that you do not use anything that might cause a ‘spark’. Remember, too, that ‘static electricity’ can cause a spark. This probably doesn’t need to be said, but…No Smoking’ anywhere around this while making it and especially, after you are done. I had a friend who did smoke…once. He came home after 4 days in the hospital. If you get the ‘itch’ to make any other compound that burns or is explosive in nature…read up on the chemicals you are using. There many chemicals that are perfectly stable by themselves, but when mixed with certain other chemicals…become highly unstable and ‘will’ cause a great deal of excitement.

    7. I’m jewish and agree completely with tge fact that they couldn’t defend them selfs. As far as criminals doing bag things. We would have to make everything disappear. I’m sure somewhere in the world someone was killed with a butter knife. I’m done with that. I like the way this was put up and I learned a lot. Im a big muzzle loading guy. As far as tge accuracy of a bkack powder rifle. They are extremely accurate.

      • Yes, but it has to be those chunks that are fully burned (gasification). The chunks you’d want to use are the same ones that are light and airy and can almost crumble between your fingers. Don’t use the white powdery ash.

      • Yes I make my own charcoal. Super heat the hardwood in a metal container with a lid and a hole to release the gases. When smoke stops exiting the hole, you’ll have charcoal inside.

    8. One filter you could use to make sure kids don’t access this information is to charge a few cents for this. Most kids don’t use a credit card so it would ensure only adults can access this. I agree that we don’t want censorship. If the card is verified, you can be reasonably sure it is an adult. Just an idea.

      • This is available from so many sources though, I read a book called the blackthorn key and that one full on gave a recipe for gunpowder right at the start.

        • I’m 63 and when I was a teenager I could go to the library (remember those?) and check out a book on how to make explosives, all kinds. We could also go to the local pharmacy and buy all the ingredients for gunpowder. We also got the recipe for nitro glycerin and yes, we purchased the ingredients from the pharmacy. Now that was dangerous. And a lot of fun! We blew lots of stuff up and nobody was hurt. My point is, this information has always been available and should always be available. Things were different then. It was believed if children were quiet, they were being “good “ and therefore safe. Haha!!! I think I’ll go blow something up (safely)😁

      • By the time I was 14 I knew how to make home made anti personal mines, claymores. Frag pipe bombs. Guess how many I made…. 0 just because you know how to do something does not mean you ever will.

      • Sure, but the question was, “Can I use this to reload ammo”? I know it’s very dirty to fire but, can I reload if it’s necessary? I had a friend who was an avid reloader and he said you can use black powder or homemade powder to reload. Just fill the bass to the top and press in the bullet and “Voila” your ready to go. He demonstrated that to me on a couple occasions in a .45 long colt revolver. Whatcha think?

    9. Thank you for posting this, all good thing’s to know. I really appreciate all of your posts on different topics. Again thank you.
      For the haters out there, if you use this recipe with bad intentions you deserve whatever happens in the process. Just saying, not everyone has evil thoughts.

    10. I love and agree with all of the supportive comments, the others, Meh. If they don’t like the program change the station. If they don’t like the article, scroll past it. Do not censor what is available to the responsible adults, we don’t appreciate it. Thanks for sharing in a responsible and respectful way.

      BTW, the comments about the Jews being herded into the RR cars by Hitler in Nazi Germany are absolutely correct. It happened exactly as was stated in that post. And yes, Fluoride does dull the mind.

    11. On topic….When things go south, a lot of the things we take for granted just aren’t going to be available. Including these ingredients. Maybe slings and bow and arrow are more reliable in terms of DIY survival/protection tools?





      • Are you also horrified by the amount of steel when you’re not in a blizzard? As far as the lightning goes, i suggest you, and you alone, get to the trunk of the nearest tallest tree you can find, hug it tightly until the electricity flows through your steel. Problem solved.

    13. Snipers using flintlock rifles did not last long. His rifle produced a large cloud of smoke when ever he took a shot. The smoke cloud exposed his position. It also took close to a minute to reload a flintlock rifle.
      That’s why smokeless gun powder was invented. Along with lever action rifles.
      Gen. Custer’s men got MASSACRED because the army issued them bolt action rifles. The Sioux indians used Winchester rifles that they’d obtained by trading horses with gunrunning horse traders.


    Leave a Comment