Home-Made Ballistic Gel Additives – Chapter 1

Home-Made Ballistic Gel Additives – Chapter 1

Recently I published an article on making FBI-grade ballistic gelatin at home, to assist in ammunition testing and development.  Although the consistency of the finished product was excellent, I believe there’s still room for improvement.  Beginning with the transparency, I’d like to see if I can increase this, particularly with large diameter blocks.  Likewise, as an organic compound, ballistic gel can spoil– currently the shelf-life is about three weeks, but I’m confident that can be addressed as well.

Ultimately the ideal formula should be as clear as we can get it, with a shelf life of months, or even longer so that the same block can be melted down and re-used many, many times.  With these goals in mind, we need a chemical that acts as both bleaching agent, and preservative.  It also needs to be cheap, and accessible.  With our requirements outlined, I’ve selected Hydrogen Peroxide, and Bleach.

Method

Testing will be performed using four identical glasses filled with the same volume and mixture of freshly made ballistic gel.  One sample will be left untreated, while the other three will have a different concentration of either Hydrogen Peroxide or Bleach added.  After setting in the fridge for 48 hours, the samples will then be compared to the control to determine which chemical(s) have the most potential.

Testing

The first sample has been left untreated, to operate as a control.

Moving on to the second, I’ve added a spoonful of 3% concentration hydrogen peroxide.  You can find this at any pharmacy where it’s used for disinfecting wounds.

For the third sample, I’ve added some much stronger 29% concentrated hydrogen peroxide.  This can be purchased from any chemical supplier, although it’s worth noting you’ll want to wear gloves when handling it as it’s very corrosive.

Finally I’ve added a spoonful of standard laundry bleach to the fourth sample.

Results

After two days of refrigeration it’s clear these additives have had significantly different effects.

The pure gelatin of course is pretty much as it was left, a pale amber color.

Moving on to the 3% hydrogen peroxide, there’s been a significant improvement to clarity and color.  I don’t have any kind of tool to quantify the change, but I’d estimate it’s around 50% lighter.

The 29% formula is lighter still.  Again, I have no way to know for sure, but I’d estimate it’s around 1/3 to 1/2 lighter than the 3% mixture.

I’m no chemist but the reaction between bleach and gelatin is very obviously not what we’re looking for.  The resulting mixture is not only darker than the original, but filled with gas bubbles.

Summary

With the preliminary testing done, it looks like hydrogen peroxide is the clear winner.  Now that we know it has the potential to do what we want, we can move on to a larger and better controlled experiment to determine the ideal concentration, as well as other considerations like effects on density.

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