A Compendium of Useful Information for the Practical Man/Gunpowder
Black Powder, Making
Under certain circumstances, you may not be able to obtain a supply of this very necessary article. At the same time, it is more than probable that you may have two of the ingredients in the house, and the other (charcoal) you may easily make; and rather than do without you may feel disposed to try your hand at compounding it yourself. I have myself made it without other apparatus than a pestle and mortar, and a sieve; and there can be no reason why any one else should not do the same. The best gunpowder is made of nitre, saltpetre, and charcoal, in the following proportions:
Charcoal, three parts; nitre, seven parts ; and sulphur, two parts.
Powder them separately, and mix them together in a stone mortar; and with a wooden pestle adding gradually a sufficient quantity of water to make a paste. Then grain it by rubbing through a finer or coarser sieve, according to the fineness of the powder you require. Dry the powder by spreading it thinly on tin or earthen plates, exposed to the sun and air, but guarded from the wet; and finish it in a tray, placed over a vessel of boiling water in such a manner that the steam cannot affect it with damp. Gunpowder damaged by wet may be mixed up into a paste and re-grained.