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SOURCE: Urbanski (composition as of 1300)

COMMENTS: The term "general" is applied loosely here, referring to any black powder composition that was not designed for a specific purpose (or if it was, then the specific application wasn't given).

Black powder is the one composition in pyrotechnics that varies greatly from type to type. The most important component of black powder is charcoal. It is important to use a very reactive charcoal such as willow or grapevine that contains many volatiles (oxygen and hydrogen) to increase the speed of burning. Bear in mind that if the charcoal is not very reactive the black powder will merely fizzle and burn slowly. Examples of unreactive charcoals are activated charcoal and barbecue briquettes (which usually contain clay).

Simply mixing the three components together does not give good results. It is usually wise to "impregnate" the charcoal with the potassium nitrate by ball-milling the two chemicals together for several hours, or by the precipitation method where the potassium nitrate is dissolved in hot water and charcoal is added.

PREPARATION (parts by weight):

Potassium nitrate0.670