Author Topic: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder  (Read 11665 times)

Offline Dave B

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Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« on: November 09, 2008, 08:35:37 PM »
I found a post that has the process for making Grandma's Red Powder using rust sugar and niter from chicken manure. You can find it here: http://www.accelix.net/pipermail/kno3/2008-March/000117.html

Two or three times a year, Grandma would shovel up a batch of the soil
from inside her chicken run.  After placing a clean, heavy cloth over
the perforated bottom of a metal bucket, half a cup of clean, sifted
white wood ashes were evenly spread atop the cloth.  With a second piece
of cloth lain atop the ashes, she'd then fill the bucket with the dirt
she had dug earlier.  After resting this bucket atop a slightly smaller
bucket, she would sprinkle 1 1/2 gallons of boiling water over the soil
which was left to drain.  She would then boil the liquid that drained
out.  Tiny grains of salt would form as the liquid simmered and she
would remove these.  Once the liquid had reduced by 2/3 it was set aside
to cool.  After cooling, the "nitre" crystals were strained out.  When
she was ready to make a batch of powder, she would boil 2 cups of water
to which she added 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the "nitre", one cup of
sugar  (extracted from sorghum or boiled down from maple sap), and 2
tablespoons of fine red rust (scraped with a knife blade from and
available rusted iron or steel).  She's keep this mixture simmering
until it became a little thicker than breakfast oatmeal.  This rusty
orange colored mixture was spread out, about 1/4" thick on a metal
cookie sheet.  About every 15 minutes or so she would come by and cut
the pieces up.  When it had finally dried enough that the mixture would
no longer stick to her fingers, she would rub it through a window
screen.  This was put aside until thoroughly dry.  All of this left
Grandma with about 1 pound of good, high quality blackpowder which could
be loaded on a volume for volume basis.  Grandma would use this in the
flash pan, and "half a thimble full" in her .34 caliber flint lock
squirrel rifle.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2008, 08:40:22 PM by Dave B »
Dave Blaisdell

Daryl

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2008, 08:45:20 PM »
Thanks Dave.  Maybe I'll try some store bought 'peter' if I can find it, along with some sublimed sulpher and good charcoal.  My chickens are free-run - at the grocery store.

Offline LynnC

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2008, 09:07:00 PM »
Neat info you posted Dave!  Thanks a Bunch!.................Lynn
The price of eggs got so darn high, I bought chickens......

Offline LynnC

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2008, 09:14:59 PM »
If I understand right, the sulfur in BP is the expanding gas part of the burning.

What in this red powder is the expanding part?  Sugar is the fuel part?  The rust?
The SP is the oxidizer I know..............Lynn

(Now - Were to find some SP)
The price of eggs got so darn high, I bought chickens......

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2008, 02:21:26 AM »
The formula would be 70 parts of potassium nitrate and 30 parts of sugar.  For best results you want to use fruit sugar, not cane or beet sugar.

The iron oxide, or rust, is thought to be something of a combustion reaction help.  But the particle size of rust is too large to really work well.

The old "grandma" thing has been published a number of times.  Looks good on paper but some of it is utter nonsense.

If you want a little education on these sugar powders you could look up the patent that covered the sugar-based powder that had been manufactured by GOEX under the Clear shot label.  The original patent had been issued to Warren Fey after he got out of the ascorbic acid powder business.

Daryl

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2008, 02:37:21 AM »
Bill - Am I correct in assuming this 70/30 mixture is wet into a slury, well stirred and pressed, rolled, etc, just as real BP?

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2008, 03:09:13 AM »
Bill - Am I correct in assuming this 70/30 mixture is wet into a slury, well stirred and pressed, rolled, etc, just as real BP?

The sugar must be heated to partially caramelize it.  Cooked together with the potassium nitrate.  Then poured out onto something like a cookie sheet.  Then you must dry it to remove all of the water.  Then broken up into "grains".

What they don't say it that method gives a powder that is very hygroscopic.  Think of it like hard candy at high humidity.

GOEX had originally tried to make the fruit sugar based CLEAR SHOT in a wheel mill as one would make black powder.  The mill blew up and killed a supervisor at Minden.  They then switched to making it into a slurry as one would make some forms of candy.  Using what was really modified candy making machinery.

The S/A Pernambuco Powder Factory had been asked to make this fruit sugar based powder back around 1984 but they would not do it.  At the time they were producing a similar composition that went on the ends of pre-cut safety fuse to act as an ignition helper when a miner would go to light the fuse.  In 1995 they had a batch in process go out of control during the heating step and when the dust settled and the smoke cleared almost 3/4 of the plant was in ruins.
Then after GOEX set up to make the sugar-based powder at Minden in the candy machinery they had a fire that started in the start of the line.  Burned down through the line of machinery and then ignited about 1,000 pounds of finished Clear Shot.  Which took out the building and machinery.

Offline Roger Fisher

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2008, 10:46:52 PM »
I think I'll stay with buy and hoard! ;D

Daryl

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2008, 05:17:22 AM »
Yeah- for now, I'll buy.

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2008, 06:39:34 AM »
If I understand right, the sulfur in BP is the expanding gas part of the burning.

What in this red powder is the expanding part?  Sugar is the fuel part?  The rust?
The SP is the oxidizer I know..............Lynn

(Now - Were to find some SP)

The sulfur ingredient in black powder simply speeds up the chemical (combustion) reactions between the charcoal and the oxygen being given off by the potassium nitrate.
The 19th century view was that the charcoal provided the heat while the saltpeter produced the gas.  That is a big over simplification.

In varying the ratios of ingredients you are playing with the total volume of gasses produced by the combustion of the powder, the temperature at which the gasses are evolved and the rate at which the gasses are evolved.

In the case of the sugar powder you are producing a volume of gas at a given temperature.
With the ascorbic acid powders you are producing a larger volume of gas at a lower temperature, compared to black powder.  This is why the ascorbic acid and sugar based powders look a bit weak in a patched ball rifle and look better in cartridge loadings or in ml rifles with bullets rather than balls.

Offline LynnC

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2008, 08:16:39 PM »
Thanks for the education - Looks like I have an old understanding of BP combustion.  I should have paid closer attention in chemistry class!
Lynn

The price of eggs got so darn high, I bought chickens......

karwelis

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2008, 08:39:46 PM »
appalachin gun powder


due to the rising cost of powder i thought i would write a post on making powder... i have never tried this recipr just copied it down from an old issue of backwoodsman....


two shovels full of chicken coop dirt
leach out whitish niter (save dirt , will use later)
place clean heavy cloyh over bottom of metal bucket with the bottom perforated
spread evenly a half cup of white wood ashes
place a second cloth over the ashes
fill bucket within 2" of the top with the dirt
sprinkle 2 1/2 gallons of boiling water over the soil
allow to drain for several hours Catch the liquid
bring liquid to a slow boil and let simmer
discard the salt crystals that will float to the top
as about 2/3rds the liquid has boiled away
set aside to cool for an hour or two for the nitre crystal to form
strain out nitre crystal and set aside to dry

When ready to make powder
bring 2 cups of water to boil and add 1 cup and 2 tbsp. saltpeter,1 cup of sugar and 2 tbsp of fine red rust, scraped from a any available metal
stirring constantly until mixture becomes alittle thicker than oatmeal
spread out a 1/4 in. thick on metal cookie sheet
cut into 1 in. squares and allow to dry cutting in in halves every 15 min
when substance no longer sticks to fingers, sift through a window screen in a storage container and allow to dry for a couple of days

for priming powder
take about a third of this orange powder and grind in a pestal and mortar
wwhat you have left should be about one pound of powder for a little over half days work

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Grandma's Resipe for Red Powder
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2008, 10:04:12 PM »
In these writings on making potassium nitrate from animal waste there is something missing.  The missing ingredient is ground limestone, or lime.

The bacteria that convert ammonia into a nitrate require a "metallic substrate" to work on.  The most effective substrate being calcium carbonate.  As is found in limestone.  Best used ground to a fine powder.

Without the limestone the bacterial activity in the dung produces mainly ammonia.

I had looked at a farm land lease agreement from the 1700's.  The farmer leasing a field was required to apply ground lime to the field once per year.  That was spelled out in the contract.  These fields were generally fertilized with barn waste mucked out of the barns and then spread onto the fields.  The lime was said to "sweeten" the ground.
In most cases they spread ground lime in the barns or outhouse pits to knock down on the bad odors.  That gave the nitrification bacteria the desired "substrate" to work on and produce calcium nitrate.  Which was then converted to potassium nitrate via the wood ashes which contain potassium carbonate, or potash.

If you don't lime the dung the amount of calcium and potassium nitrate that can be leached from the dung is miniscule.

This relationship between dung, limestone and calcium nitrate is seen in bat caves that were used as a nitrate source.
The bats sleep in the caves and hibernate in the caves.  All of their droppings end up on the cave floor.  Their claws scrape bits of limestone off the walls and roofs of the caves.  The bits of limestone drop down and mix with the bat droppings.  The bacteria then convert the mess to calcium nitrate.

If you read how they checked caves for useable deposits you see where they would press their shoe down into the mess on the cave floor.  Then return the next day to look at the foot print.  If the edges of the print were still sharp that meant there was not enough calcium nitrate to make extraction a worthwhile process.  If the foot print had started to fill itself in that indicated there was sufficient calcium nitrate present to make the labor involved in extraction worth the time and effort.
This played on the fact that calcium nitrate is deliquescent.  That means it pulls enough moisture from the air to form a liquid solution.  So the sides of the foot print would flow in to fill the void.  That indicated it would be worth the efforts and provide a good yield of calcium nitrate.

It is really an interesting process on how that was done.  They used a lot of wood to heat the pots used in the conversion process and the purification of the potassium nitrate.  The fires gave a good amount of wood ashes that could then be leached with water for the potassium carbonate contained in the ashes.

The reaction between the wood ashes and the calcium nitrate produces potassium nitrate and calcium oxide.  The filter used to separate the calcium oxide out of the solution of potassium nitrate was a wooden rick filled with straw.  At first I was puzzled by the straw as a filter medium.  Then I found out that calcium oxide particles readily adhere to the surfaces of the straw where they are then held.
When I did this conversion process in the lab I had tried to filter it with filter paper.  No go!  Then filter cloth.  Another no go.  The stuff quickly blocked the paper or cloth.  Then I set up a funnel packed with glass stirring rods.  Success!!

The old industrial chemistry books have chapters on what were called "manure salts".  This would include the nitrates and compounds based on ammonia such as ammonium chloride.  As I learned in these books, up until the mid-1800's manure piles were the only, or primary, sources for a lot of chemicals in use at the time.  2,000 years ago the Chinese were the masters of this.  The "technology" slowly spread to the Middle East and then into the Mediterranean countries and then up into northern Europe and England.

Ammoniun chloride was once known as "Chinese Snow"and said to be obtainable from only one mountain top in China.

Bill K.