Backwoods Gunpowder Making.

Discussion in 'Primitive Tools and Weapons' started by Keith H., Sep 25, 2017.

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  1. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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  2. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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  3. Hick Industries

    Hick Industries Well-Known Member
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    Without a source of salt peter, and sulfur, the process goes from easy to impossible.
    If I'm going to store tbe chemicals, I'm might as well store smokeless powder.
    Just another confirmation of why black powder is not a viable strategy.
     
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  4. Snyper

    Snyper Expert Member
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    Exactly.
    Most would find it hard to go out and buy what they need.

    It's far fetched to think the ingredients could be found in a real crisis, outside of extremely limited locations.

    Most people throughout history have never made their own.
     
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  5. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    But you still need to carry reloading gear, you need to carry the lead & the primers.
    You don't need sulphur to make black powder.
    Gunpowder Recipe.
    A good standard black powder:..100 parts saltpeter + 18 parts coal + 16 parts sulphur.
    A powder without sulfur:............100 parts saltpeter + 24 parts coal (makes poor priming powder for flintlocks).
    2) 75% willow char to 25% potassium nitrate.


    Good for flintlock priming.
    https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2016/04/backwoods-gunpowder-making.html

    Keith.
     
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  6. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    The point is it can be done Snyper, regardless of whether or not you personally could be bothered to do it. Personally I don't think I would have a need to make my own gunpowder, I can carry enough to last me in a long term bug out situation. I don't have to carry reloading gear, or a lot of lead, or primers. I am simply stating my preference & why.
    Keith.
     
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  7. Snyper

    Snyper Expert Member
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    It "can be done" if you have all the ingredients.
    Finding them is without buying them is next to impossible .

    It's not about "being bothered to do it".
    It's more about having what is needed.
     
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  8. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    I think the knowledge of how to make black powder and what is needed is important. I do have to go along with the plan to just store smokeless powder. I don't have the natural ingredients locally for making black powder, so I would have to buy and store it, so I will buy and store smokeless powder.
     
  9. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    I must respectfully disagree with these statements because even saltpeter can be made from common and easily accessible natural sources. I know of people who have done it, and made good gunpowder. Storebought ingredients are nice, but NOT necessary! It ain't rocket science either.

    Here are just a few of many sites that describe the processes for making backwoods saltpeter, etc.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=sal...1.69i57j0l5.7058j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    The part I would be most concerned about when making gunpowder is reducing the end-stage coarse product to a fine powder by rubbing it through a screen. Oh boy. That could be spectacularly bad if you are not careful. (I forget now which type of screen is safest for this part of the process...I think it might be the non-metal kind of window screen material?) <---Edited to add correction: later in this thread Keith said the non-metal will cause problems. Use metal mesh.

    Edited to add...for truly backwoods gunpowder making...if no screen material is available, I would probably resort to making my own "screen" material by weaving thin strands of dried and hardened willow (inner bark), or something of that nature to make a serviceable screen.




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    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  10. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    GA, great link but not doable in my current location. I will be storing th Smokeless powder but maybe after the die off, I will have access to the needed space, animal poop and urine.
     
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  11. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    In the old days, the soil around outhouses was used as well.


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  12. Hick Industries

    Hick Industries Well-Known Member
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    I think that most members here agree with the importance of carrying a light wt weapon, suited for hunting and personal defense, in the event we have to travel and survive long term in the wilderness. I have noticed a long string of threads here suggesting that a black powder flintlock is that weapon. I find that the flintlock is slow to load and fire, not terrible effective, and fragile. It is about the last weapon I would choose.

    Many of us live in different places, with different skills, different laws, and different resources. But we all face the same challenges. The total wt of our weapons/ammo, the rate of fire, number of rounds carried, and the destructive affect of the environment, should guide us in our choices.

    If I was only planning on living in the bush for a week or So, I would carry a semi auto battle rifle in 308 win, and ten loaded 20 rd mags. My M1a is vastly superior for hunting or defense, right up to the point where I run out of bullets. Plus, the rifle, and the ammo are waterproof and have survived combat on nearly every terrain on earth. Rather than waste time trying to manufacture powder, or even reload while living in the bush, I chose to cache food, ammo, and other needed items at four locations.

    Another option would be a modern hunting rifle. Again they are reliable, relatively light wt, and very effective at all ranges, until you run out of ammo.

    One long term solution is a modern hunting bow. Still very effective, decent rate of fire, and the ability to produce effective arrows while living in the wilderness.

    But the very best option in my opinion, is a modern repeating rifle, chambered in a cartridge suited for both smokeless, and blackpowder, behind a cast lead bullet. This combination retains the accuracy and rate of fire of the modern rifle, while allowing you the option of loading black powder if ever required. An example of this type is my Marlin 1894 chambered in 44 mag.

    I may one day run out of smokeless powder, primers. But since I started out buying my primers by the 5,000 rd flat, and powder in 8 lb kegs, I won't be running this decade, or the next.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
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  13. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Sulphur & potassium nitrate can be purchased at a nursery, you can make your own charcoal.
    Keith.
     
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  14. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    The best value of this thread is that blackpowder rifles are also great backups for when all other options are used up.

    I am a huge proponent of going beyond the Ideal Plan A, B, and even C. I won't be rolling over and giving up if and when other, more ideal options are exhausted.

    But first, Plan F options are best explored now, while the opportunity exists, along with the skills to implement them.

    SHTF situations may not the best times to get the bugs worked out of my skill sets.


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    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  15. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    9752ca452e23f6c7cdef8de713373e28.jpeg
    The last batch I made I did not screen it, just powdered it. I used a reduced charge to be on the safe side & it worked just fine.
    Keith.
     
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  16. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    What method did you use to powder it? Please give details. (Taking notes here!)


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  17. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    how big a batch at a time do you make?
     
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  18. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    Firm believer , which is why I even have the makings for a PVC Recurved, fiberglass rod bow. Harbor Freight had a nice deal on the fiberglass rods. Wooden dowels for arrows and duct tape for fletching. Will work as well as I can shoot it. Not pretty but functional. Black powder knowledge is important, just have to go with what works the best and then plan for Mr. Murphy trying to bite us in the tush.
     
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  19. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    "I find that the flintlock is slow to load and fire, not terrible effective, and fragile. It is about the last weapon I would choose".

    Obviously you are not very experienced in using a muzzle-loading firearm & know little about these guns. 1) slower than a breech loader maybe, but not that slow. Much faster if one uses a cartridge. 2) Muzzle-Loaders are very effective in fact a .32 will outperform a .22 rimfire. 3) Fragile! Where on earth did you come up with that one?! The Brown Bess was made to be used as a club if required, fragile, nonsense! 4) No comment.
    Keith.
     
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  20. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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  21. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I don't make gunpowder all the time, I have plenty of the commercial gunpowder & prefer it given the choice. But I have done some experimenting. I mix it wet in a mortar & pestle, I use urine in preference to plain water. Once dry I powder it in the same mortar & pestle.
    My recipe was 75 parts Potassium Nitrate-15 parts charcoal-10 parts sulphur.
    At the time I made this the ingredients were available from our local chemist, so they were top grade. If you purchase from a nursery or garden center the results may vary & you will have to experiment.
    aa1d90690a97d93ebda2bc4e36934080.jpeg
    Some muppet broke my pestle! I also have a wooden set.
    https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2011/08/muzzle-loading-information.html

    Ciphering not being my strong point, I suggest you double check any math I use in this article!!!o_O
    Keith.
     
  22. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    I am learning, still, so forgive me for asking...what is to keep the gunpowder from igniting from the friction during the powdering process? Is this a possibility?


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  23. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    It does not take much pressure/effort to crush into powder, & no chance of igniting. If you want to make sure, use a wooden mortar & pestle. I think I would have to strike the mortar pretty hard to cause a spark & besides, I only mix a small amount at a time.
    If you are going to grade it I suggest you just use your hand & a metal mesh. Don't forget that synthetics can cause sparks from static electricity.
    Keith.
     
  24. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    Thank you for the info, and I added a note to my earlier post to point out my wrong understanding of the screen/mesh type to use.

    (I had mentioned in that post that I wasn't sure which type to use, and hoped someone would come along with more info (thanks, Keith!), but for safety's sake, I went back to add the correct info.)
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    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
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  25. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    my local hardware has brass screen available
     
  26. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I can't remember now randy, I have not made any for years, but it was only a small amount at a time. As I was experimenting, there is no point in making it in big batches.
    Keith.
     
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  27. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    I was curious, I imagine that due to slight inconsistencies between batches, the batch should be fair size. There is a devise similar to a small pistol for testing the strength of black powder. If memory serves there is a scale and pointer built in to that device.
     
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  28. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    That is correct randy & as far as I know one can still purchase replicas.
    957593fcf5c52049d28769a6864852a7.jpeg
    Keith.
     
  29. Snyper

    Snyper Expert Member
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    I'm sure "people have done it", but I'm talking about what most people can do with resources they can find.

    Making Saltpeter doesn't help much if you don't have a source for Sulfur.

    Even if you have all the ingredients it's a dangerous process that can be avoided by simply stockpiling real gunpowder and ammunition.
     
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  30. Snyper

    Snyper Expert Member
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    Ammo can be purchased in many places also.

    If I have to purchase something, I choose the ready to use item that comes in it's own sealed "container".

    The topic seems to keep changing though.

    It started out as "Backwoods gunpowder making".
    It's hard enough to make it at home with purchased ingredients.

    Making it in the woods and starting from scratch remains impossible for most people.
     
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  31. Snyper

    Snyper Expert Member
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    Use a bronze screen and wooden tools for less chance of sparks when screening.

    The commercial method uses lead balls in a "ball mill" for blending and crushing prior to screening.

    It's not hard to fabricate a makeshift one of those either.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_mill
     
  32. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    everyone has to do what they think is best for themselves, whatever it may be.

    I would think that if the ancient Chinese could make black powder with their resources, a clever modern person could do the same. I have heard of recipes not requiring sulfur, Keith mentions one, Another is made by using rust. I dabbled with making black powder years ago. I may look back into, it sounds like a challenge.
     
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  33. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    I suppose you are right, but fortunately we are not “most people” who would probably just roll over and give up after all their supplies are gone. Most people are also pitifully dependent on grocery stores every week. Anyone visiting sites like this one is likely seeking to become more self-reliant.

    This thread evolved pretty much like most threads on the internet, much like normal conversations would. I think it is pure gold!!



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    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
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  34. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    It is pretty much a given that everyone here already has a stash. This thread is useful for anyone who embraces a more self-reliant lifestyle and who wants to prepare for the possibility of depleted stockpiles.

    And yes, backwoods gunpowder is dangerous but not as much as being caught off-guard when the last bullet is gone.

    Although I am well-experienced in primitive skills including bowhunting, flintknapping, atlatls, etc. I believe in backup plans for my backups, including backwoods gunpowder.

    I think there are more than a few here like me, who dabble in advanced preparations?




    The needed resources are not all that rare, lol.

    Of course, a forward thinker would plan ahead and at least make a mental note of where supplies of poop and pee rich soils are... for example, chicken coops, outhouses, barnyards, etc. Or, make their OWN.


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    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
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  35. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Like I have already stated, you do not have to use sulphur, & I do not draw a comparison between the members on this forum & "most people"!!!
    Again, this was simply an article of interest & possibility, & at no time did I suggest that everyone should include this in their survival plans!!!
    Keith.
     
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  36. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Master Survivalist
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    Mary Patton; well known powder-maker from my area of Tennessee; made gunpowder by the hundreds of pounds during latter 1700 century. Been up Powder Branch road several times to meet folk, have reunions and such.

    http://appalachiantreks.blogspot.com/2009/08/mary-patton.html

    I just learned that she and Andrew Taylor were friends! Didn't know that she lived next to him. I wonder if that was temporary? I thought she lived up Powder Branch road. There's caves up in there, but there's no shortage of caves and bats in the region.
    https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/mary-mckeehan-patton/

    Great photographs:
    http://www.tndar.org/~marypatton/
    In this link go down to mid-page; this is where her history begins. There's a photo of her tribute carved in stone.
     
  37. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    Speaking of resources, that last post reminded me that bat poop can also be found in attics of some old houses. A realtor friend of mine told me that it is more common than most folks think...


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  38. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Very interesting, thank you for sharing.
    9bf0ab0b5d7ed63b8c1a6c93aceb8d26.jpeg Keith.
     
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  39. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    Preppers willing to learn will never be unarmed. Granted I don't plan to go out and stock pile materials to make black powder. I also don't plan to stock pile stretch band for sling shots but I can make one. After reading these posts, I did download a few, (okay a lot) of YT videos on DIY Black Powder making. I may never need to do this but I will know how to do it.
     
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  40. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I remember reading an article about a woman in the 18th or 19th century who was suspected of being a vampire, if I remember correctly. It was then discovered that this woman was sheltering in some old shed that harboured bats. She had caught some disease or other from these bats.
    http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/14/217/14/bats-and-human-health
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat-borne_virus
    Keith.
     
  41. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    Might want to check and double check all that info and compare it with known experts now, while you can. Otherwise, you may not know fact from fiction. There is a LOT of misinformation that is being repeated among Youtubers and websites. (May the fleas of a thousand camels invade their armpits.)


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  42. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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  43. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    That is a good cautionary tale! Bats carry all kinds of airborne juju that is harmful to humans.


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  44. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    And may their chickens turn into Emus & kick their fowl house down:D
    Keith.
     
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  45. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    I never drink the YT koolaid, trust but verify. Skills and technique is one thing, recipes are completely different, for that we go to the experts and YT is not it.
     
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  46. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    I'm going to revisit the process and do it until I own the knowledge.
     
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  47. Snyper

    Snyper Expert Member
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    They could make delicate porcelain too, but that doesn't mean the average person could wander out in the woods and get the same results.

    They had the advantage of slave labor and warlords who controlled resources to make powder for their militaries.

    Where I live you can't even find a rock, much less a piece of flint.

    There are no caves to gather saltpeter and there are no volcanoes with sulfur deposits.

    Being clever only helps if you can get the ingredients.
     
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  48. Snyper

    Snyper Expert Member
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    See my post above.
    The nearest "rocks" are over 100 miles away.
    The nearest caves about 3 times that far.

    When all the gunpowder is gone I'll revert to my bows instead of trying to make gunpowder.

    (Unless I can raid a store that has stockpiles Sulfur and Saltpeter, or Saltpeter and Sugar.) ;)
     
  49. Snyper

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  50. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    Yes indeed, bows are perfect backups, but! BUT! Gunpowder and explosives have their place too.
    But to each his own... I love my hunting and fishing bows, and my flintknapped knives and arrowheads, and my atlatls and slingshots, but boy howdy, I love things that go BOOM. (Hopefully, not on me, lol.)

    Caves are not the only source for old poop. Not sure what "rocks" are you referring to? And as has been mentioned in this thread a few times, NO SULFER is needed with some recipes.

    Knowledge is power. Practicing it is, well, the most practical thing I can do. You do you, and we will do us. Not a thing wrong with that. All during this thread, I and others have been ample with warnings of potential danger, so it's not like we are encouraging young kids or complete fools to dabble in explosives, lol.




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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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