Brewing up gunpowder with household products

When the zombiepocalypse comes you’re not going to want to run out to the store for more ammo. But you can always reload great grandpa’s musket with some homemade gunpowder. All kidding aside, the invention and proliferation of gunpowder had a profound effect on the world. Here you can see just how easy it is to make with chemicals that are common in our modern world.

The two compounds that go into this experiment are ammonium nitrate and potassium chloride. Where can you get your hands on these materials? Instant cold packs use ammonium nitrate and water to start an endothermic reaction. The potassium chloride can be found in the grocery store as a table salt alternative.

The chemicals need to be measured by weight. [William Finucane] didn’t have a digital scale on hand so he made a balance using a wooden ruler, two plastic component drawers, and a Bic lighter as a fulcrum. With approximately equal parts of the two materials he sets about dissolving in water, filtering, and heating of the concoction to produce saltpeter. Combine this with powdered sugar and you’ve got gun powder. Don’t believe that it works? You can see the fiery goodness in the clip after the break.

Flammable and explosive materials are dangerous to work with, so you probably shouldn’t do this yourself. But then again, it can’t be as dangerous as working with thermite. [Read more...]

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