Saltpeter...

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negtneg

Member
Dec 29, 2010
24
0
Northamptonshire, UK
Just watching Ray Mears (again!) on BBC 4

I fancy having a go at making Steven King's fire lighting kit, and Ray talks about soaking the cotton in saltpeter...

...now, as I'm sure we're all aware saltpeter has a number of uses - I don't fancy the 5am knock on the door from the men in black!

What do people think? Will I be OK ordering saltpeter? Where's the best place to buy it legitimately?

Any comments/suggestions greatly appreciated

Simon
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
21,656
1,074
62
Pembrokeshire
Ach - saltpeter is used in food prep (sausages etc) so you do not need to worry about 5am knock at the door...
I got mine from a pal so cannot help with sources.
 

slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,003
110
Devon
Yes, it's used for helping to preserve meat; so bacon, ham and cured sausages. If you can't find it via google look for sausage making or bacon making suppliers.
 

ged

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Knocks on the door aside, I would urge caution with mixtures of the kind you're considering. It is possible to make something which, once alight, cannot be extinguished. That is obviously very dangerous.

Decades ago when I worked in explosives R&D we were always very careful to keep fuels and oxidizers apart until is was necessary to mix them, and then after mixture to observe handling precautions carefully. I saw four people in the factory killed as a result of not following the proper procedures.
 

IanM

Nomad
Oct 11, 2004
380
0
UK
I use slow slow match on my Japanese matchlock rifle. It is easy to make from cotton sash cord from an ironmonger and Potassium Nitrate BP from my chemist. Soak a length of cord in a saturated solution of the saltpeter and dry out well, store in a metal tin, I use a shoe polish tin. It lights easily and to put it out you simply snip the tip off and let it burn out.
 

tinderbox

Forager
Feb 22, 2007
195
1
57
East Lothian
I use slow slow match on my Japanese matchlock rifle. It is easy to make from cotton sash cord from an ironmonger and Potassium Nitrate BP from my chemist. Soak a length of cord in a saturated solution of the saltpeter and dry out well, store in a metal tin, I use a shoe polish tin. It lights easily and to put it out you simply snip the tip off and let it burn out.
I've noticed a lot of shoe polish tins are now made with a very small pin hole in the centre of the lid, so the might not be as airtight as the once were. That said I expect the rivet on the release leaver on them always let some air in.
 

IanM

Nomad
Oct 11, 2004
380
0
UK
I am not too worried about air getting in, I think the pinhole is there to let you squeze shut the tin, but more for convenience, a few feet of cord easily curls up inside and the 'set' it takes is ideal for the match holder on the rifle. On the range I use the open bottom of a small tin which held airgun pellets, a bit like a tuna tin, which has a pencil sized hole in the side just big enough to be a friction fit on the cord. The glowing cord tip is pushed through the hole into the tin for storage between shots. It saves burning the bench and also accidentally exposing the tip to any powder spill whilst loading. Most people do this or something similar.

P.S. The Japanese matchlock is actually smooth bore so it is held on a shotgun certificate and is really one of the most fun guns to shoot.
 
Last edited:
Dec 5, 2011
4,461
2
United Kingdom
I make 15m at a time. I use a two litre pop bottle and fill it 2/3 full with PN solution. about half a cup of PN is used. push your cordage into the bottle and leave overnight. withdraw the next morning and initially i wrap it in a load of kitchen towel. do not dry it hanging up as all the solution will drain and it wont burn evenly. I turn it once an hour until mostly dry. the kitchen towel can then be dried and used as flash paper. you can make a self extinguishing slow match out of a shotgun cartridge.

 

juttle

Nomad
Feb 27, 2012
465
8
Devon
I used to use saltpetre for curing meat before smoking it. The local chemist used to order it in for me with no questions asked and at a very reasonable price.