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Charcoal (and making black powder)


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#31 tomu

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 08:21 PM

The ball milling method of making black powder exits since the days of the french revolution. The french milled their PB dry with bronce balls in barrels for several hours. Don't you think that it wouldn't be known by now almost 300 years later if PB will explode when milled dry?

Up until the first world war artillery grenades filled with PB as explosive filler were shot (esp. shrapnel grenades). The grendades didn't blow up in the barrel. We guys shoot star shells filled with PB and sometimes even with flash comp. out of mortars. None of the shells explodes because of the heavy kick it gets when shot out.

And now you are seriously thinking PB may explode from dry milling. Ever tried to explode PB by a hammer blow. I mean lay a gramm or so of PB on an anvil and hit it as hard as you can with a sledgehammer. I wasn't able to get it explode this way even with commercially manufactured PB (WANO/Dynamit Nobel PB).

The charcoal/KNO3 mix will also explode/deflagrate when ignited even if you leave the sulfur out.
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#32 tajmiester

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 08:59 PM

To be honest I was more concerned about friction causing heat and sparks than about the shock. Besides the french did not live in suburban england (or have the HSE)... You can never be too safe!

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#33 bernie

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 11:08 PM

The whole point here is to do things as safely as possible. Eliminate all suspected variables. Even in this day of enlightenment black powder manufacturing facilities still have mishaps. (Thats understating it)

The point being made about dry milling has to do with static I would expect. Plenty of good pyros have lost their lives due to this.

Six % where I live will darn near turn the contents of a ball mill into a slurry.

#34 tomu

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 02:01 PM

A good compromise would be to dry mill all ingredients separately. And do the final milling/incorporating of the dry green meal with hardwood balls (they are sold in hobby shops) instead of lead or other metall media. Glass marbles come also to my mind as a possible media. No, glass marbles do not spark.

You will always get a mess when trying to mill the comp. wet.
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#35 bernie

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 02:15 PM

Hate to be such a stickler Tomu , but glass marbles are a poor choice ;) . Hardwood balls are not really heavy enough either. When in doubt use lead.

#36 Richard H

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 02:22 PM

tomu, When you refer to 'PB' above, did you mean 'BP' as in blackpowder? Or where you bizarrely referring to the inert element that is lead? :)

#37 tomu

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 05:21 PM

Sorry, I switched the letters. It should be BP for Black Powder.
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#38 kamikazi_watermelon

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Posted 23 December 2003 - 08:05 AM

you can get charcoal at petshops thats where i get mine

#39 bernie

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 02:50 AM

Mr. Melon, I don't hang around pet shops much but I think you would be using activated charcoal. Satisfactory for the time being but eventually you will desire more fanciful effects. Other sources of charcoal will broaden your horizons when the time is right.

#40 a2wpyro

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 09:09 PM

hey

i had you problem once, the main reason i was using bbq charcoal which is very bad because it is stuffed up with clay and other non wanted materials.
and i did not have a ball mill, i still dont i use a coffee grinder cost me ?21.00
works perfect and if there are any lumps after being grinded down for a few minutes i attack it with a pestil and mortar.

#41 dfk

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 07:24 AM

I have a grape vine I was about to wack up and make into charcoal cause I hear it might be alright for bp: I know willow is suposed to be the best but I dont think theres even any of that type of tree in my state.
anyway dose any one know if you have to debark grape vine, or if the vine even has bark that needs to come off before its cooked?

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Marcus; 'In the practice of manipulating fire for 4 years'

#42 Yugen-biki

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 11:30 AM

Maby I?m lucky but pine grows every were here. But I only use it for chrysantemum and willow effects. Willow and alder tree are the most common good charcoal making trees around here and alder is super. I make my coal in a iron cookie container. I chop the debarked tree in to small rods and line them upp inside the container. 45min on the grill on each side burning pine wood :rolleyes: :) under the container and a large saucepan ontop to prevent heat from escapeing. Using the BP with alder coal and a method found in The best of AFN my 3" shell uses only 30g +-5g to get to great hights!

The important things are to make small rods of wood to cut down the " turn in to coal transfering" time. No bark and no branches lowers the contents of ash. And do not open the container containing fresh hot coal. Oxygen from the air will spoil some of the coal. Open the container when it is cool. One time I opened the container and handed the coal inside a plastic bag. The coal reacted whith the air and melted the bag :( . The coal sounded like burning/glowing coal.

#43 dfk

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 06:40 PM

So is grape good for bp. guess ill let you all know soon
yesterday was my first attempt at cooking charcoal and I was suprised with my succes. I made some pine.
Can any one help clear this up, in a number of shimizus chysanthemum (charcoal fire dust) comps it CALLS for pine then goes on to say that if willow is used, long lasting sparks will result but willow is suposed to burn quick in bp:how can it be both?
Marcus; 'In the practice of manipulating fire for 4 years'

#44 Phoenix

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 07:36 PM

dfk said

Can any one help clear this up, in a number of shimizus chysanthemum (charcoal fire dust) comps it CALLS for pine then goes on to say that if willow is used, long lasting sparks will result but willow is suposed to burn quick in bp:how can it be both?


I've often wondered that too. Tiger tail is my regulation star, and I've tried several types of wood in it. Willow seems to work OK, and barbeque charcoal works well (I think that this is pine, as the maker would probably brag if it was hardwood, which they don't) but in my experience the best and brightest charcoal for sparks has been apple wood. I originally made this for BP, as a post in the rec.pyrotechnics archive by one of the regulars (can't remember who) listed it as one of the fastest woods. In the end I never tried it in BP as it seemed a waste of wonderful star material, and my willow BP is more than fast enough (20g lifts a 70mm shell (OK, not quite 3") to a good height - ha,ha!)

If you don't have willow, another very fast BP wood I've been meaning to try is dogwood, and maple is said to be faster than grapevine by some people. I think Geox uses maple (could be wrong though). However, in my experience whilst willow is the best wood I've tried, most wood, even barbeque charcoal, will make usable BP, you might just need a bit more of it and a longer tube (for lauching things). Alternatively, BP can always be speeded up a little by corning it into smaller grains.

#45 BigG

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 11:41 PM

Can any one help clear this up, in a number of shimizus chysanthemum (charcoal fire dust) comps it CALLS for pine then goes on to say that if willow is used, long lasting sparks will result but willow is suposed to burn quick in bp:how can it be both?

That?s? simply because the composition, even when well mixed, have lots of charcoal. This means that some charcoal stay ?unbounded? to the other chemicals, and burns like ? well, wood in open air (not accurate, but I hope it gives general idea).

Since willow and pine, as wood, have different burning characteristics, the effect is slightly different. Think about the charcoal not as part of a composition, but as an individual.

If you hope to get the same effect Shimizu see, forget it. Lancaster already mentioned that he never saw a European pine that burn like the one growing in Japan. He called the Japanese pine ?superior? in sparks effects.

As for wood ? read many posts on the subject. There is no such thing as ?better?. It really depends what you have near you and what the effect you want to get. Commercial manufacturers of BP use hardwood (so not willow), and they make staff that burns faster then the staff most of us make. Lots have to do with the process and the machinery.




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