Well this experiment was not nearly as easy as I originally thought it would be. After much cussing, lots of hot water cleaning and a refrigerator that looked like the creature from the black lagoon threw up in it; a block is currently cooling down.
There are many recipes for 10-20% ballistic gelatin. The one I am going to share is a simple one and the process is itself an easy one if you follow the steps I lay out. I have suffered so you might not have too. This recipe will give you a block between 50-75 lbs in weight, given the unbalanced nature of the gelatin itself, make sure you have assistance carrying it.
Step one, measure the inside of your refrigerator, ensure your mixing surface (stable counter top or table) is within a step or two of the refrigeration unit. Write the measurements down and ensure that you have set aside space for the mold you will purchase that fits INSIDE of this space. You want to have a block that is a minimum of 14” long with the preferred size being 20”. The width and height MUST be at least 6” x 6” this is simply non negotiable given the general trajectory changes that occur. The object of ballistic gelatin is to provide a medium similar to human or animal tissue that can be seen through and filmed during testing or be visually observable post testing of the bullet.
Step two, measuring the components needed. Shop for a mold for the block of gelatin, look for the size in quarts or gallons as this should be in the item description or on the label of the product depending on where you shop for it. If it is in quarts (common in USA) convert to gallons, the Knox unflavored gelatin is added at a ratio of 13 ozs, to gallon. Now do the math to ensure that your 16 oz cans of gelatin mix can be easily divided (go for the greater amount if you end up over .5 when measuring) for purchase.
Step three, purchasing components – Knox unflavored gelatin in 16 oz. cans.PAM cooking spray, metal whisk, cooking thermometer, mold for the gelatin, cinnamon oil, plastic wrap and lastly some thick fiber board or a 2-3 foot by 3-4 foot long piece of ½” plywood painted white. Each of these components can be easily found by clicking the attached links. I purchased a mold that allowed me to cut two blocks out of it, this allows me to place them end to end for better idea of penetration and wound channel characteristics on some of the rounds that may penetrate further.
Step four, putting the components together to create the block.
1. Coat the inside of the mold you selected with a liberally applied layer of PAM spray cooking oil
2. Place the mold on the firm surface for easy mixability.
3. Carefully remove the caps from each can of Knox gelatin mix.
4. Using a large measuring cup or cooking bowl fill the mold to a line approximately one or two inches below the edge, on most square storage containers there is a visible line. If not, ensure you do not fill more than this as it will make mixing difficult. Use the hot water from the tap, do not cut it with the cold water. Temperatures should be between 104 and 112 degrees, measure this with the thermometer.
5. Add one drop of cinnamon oil for each gallon, again erring on the plus side if there is a minor deviation in measurement.
6. Grasp the whisk in one hand and the first can of Knox in the second. Gently begin sprinkling the Knox powder into the water and using the whisk stir at a measured pace, this process will continue for approximately 20 minutes so dont go to fast as you dont want to wear out.
7. Continue emptying each can until all cans are empty and whisk until you have done so for approximately 20 minutes. The idea is to get the powder that will break down into the water completely broken down. You will have bits and pieces floating about the top, dont try to break these down by hand it gets really sticky!
8. At the end of the 20 minutes, gently remove the layer of white foam and excess globs of gel mixture.
9. I whisk again for a few more minutes at this stage to remove air bubbles and ensure a good solid overall consistency.
10. Gently cover the mold (I use locking lids because it is simply easier) and place in the cleared space of the refrigerator.
11. You will need between 8 and 12 hours to complete the cooling process. It is essential to get the gelatin to the right temperature, 36 degrees or so.
12. Once the gelatin has set up make the cuts if you have to cut it and or remove it from the mold and wrap it with plastic wrap and than place on the board cut to size.
13. Place back in the refrigerator until you head to the range. As long as the range is within 30-45 minutes you will be okay not protecting it from rising temperatures.
However, if you are like myself, a cooler is the best choice to keep it cool and safe…because again if you are like me you wont want to repeat the process and blow a great day of testing and shooting.
Congratulations, you just completed the construction of your own ballistic gelatin. If you did it right the cost will be significantly lower than buying premix or premade. After use carefully remove all lead and you can easily melt the block down again and remold for use next time. I will update you with results and overall ideas and proposals for changes if needed in the future.
Free the mind and the body will follow