My name is Nathan Pedde. I am a, currently, unpublished author. I am currently working on a post-apocalyptic book about the failure of modern technology. More specifically, the failure of electricity. As such, I need help with a couple small details in my book. I have tried libraries and all sorts of web pages. None of which have made me successful in my search for an answer to a question of mine.
My first book is about the disaster itself. It is almost done. I am currently working on the first draft of book two. The second book takes place many years after the initial disaster. Electricity still doesn't work properly and civilization has turned into a multitude of small warlords and there small pieces of land. When I took away modern technology in the first book, it effected everything from cars to sanitation. But what it didn't effect was guns. Guns would stay the same. The only thing that it would effect would be the manufacture of new guns and bullets. With everyone fighting everyone else, the world supply of bullets would shrink and eventually disappear completely rendering guns useless.
BUT. Black powder can be made from raw ingredients. The hardest thing to get a hold of is the sulphur. But it isn't impossible, just hard. The problem with black powder is that it is very messy. It fouls the barrels of guns like you wouldn't believe. Smokeless powder like cordite doesn't foul the barrels of guns allowing for semi-auto and automatic weapons to be invented. If you were to load a machine gun with black powder, it would jam the mechanics of it before you fired a dozen shots. Rendering all semi-auto and automatic weapons useless.
This scenario works for where I want my second book to go. I don't want machine-guns. I don't want Mad Max. I want the 18th century. The big plot-hole that I have is the fact that I have no idea if you can make a smokeless powder from raw ingredients. The supply stores are all empty by now. The supplies of the chemical compounds have been used up. I have to have my characters make the chemical compounds. That means for Black Powder, they have to make the charcoal, find the sulphur, and make the Potassium Nitrate. All of which you can do.
My question: Can you using nothing but RAW ingredients, make a smokeless gunpowder like cordite?
If so, how? What are the steps that you'd have to do? Would it be a simple process that you can do in an afternoon, or is this something that would take a few years to accomplish?
Thanks for all of your help.
ps. I have tried other forums in the past and got nothing but BS from people. Please be nice. Cheers.