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Old July 13, 2010, 11:21 PM   #1
SKHarris
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How do different temps affect stored powders?

I recently was given several cans of Hogden powders by a very trusted friend. He had not reloaded in several years and was glad that I may get some use out of them. My question is, that since these powders were stored, in original cans, lids tight, dry,etc.etc., for appx. 6 yrs in his non-climate controlled garage, what are the odds that these powders were affected in any way by the hot temps of summer and cold temps of winter for this long of a time? I would like to use the powders, but am not willing to sacrifice a gun in order to save a few bucks. Thanks for any input.- Steve
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Old July 13, 2010, 11:30 PM   #2
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Examine the powder - if it has a reddish tinge or an acrid/acidic smell, it's probably begun to break down and shouldn't be used.

Absent those signs, I wouldn't write it off - smokeless powders are remarkably stable, even considering the temperature swings in a garage without climate control.
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Old July 13, 2010, 11:39 PM   #3
SKHarris
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all of the powders "look" normal, but as to an odor, I cant tell. My sense of smell is almost as good as my depth perception while backing a trailer. Are there any other obvious tell tale signs to be aware of? -Steve
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Old July 14, 2010, 08:13 AM   #4
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Why not call Hogden and ask them directly. I'm sure they would have a good idea of the time it would take to do serious degradation to their powders. My bet is they'll tell you its OK. But I would think they would know best and would give you an honest answer based on facts. They might also explain how to best test the powder or why to or not to use it. 913-362-9455 they put their # on the container I would think they want us to use it!
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Old July 14, 2010, 08:31 AM   #5
Jim Watson
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Six years isn't long even in uncontrolled storage.
Inspect for red vapor, red dust, or heavy rust to the cans. If the powder looks normal it will likely shoot normally.
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Old July 14, 2010, 09:38 AM   #6
rogn
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Dust and color are good signs of deterioration. The smell if deterioration is present is sharp, biting, acrid and downright unpleasant. Good powder in good shape will have a sweet solvent odor, or if its ben in cardboard containers the solvent will have evaporated, and there will be no odors. Im still using powdres that date back into the 70s, before we had "climate control".(IMR 4350, 4320; AL-7, 2400 etc) Check each container as individual, and proceed with good common sense. Different lots should be handled as different lots, start low and work up.
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Old July 14, 2010, 12:01 PM   #7
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smokeless powder is nothing but adulterated plastic. Nitrocellulose with Nitroglycerin and other coatings and additives.

It isn't immortal, but it is, inherently, a stable compound that should last many years when cared for properly.

There are military surplus cartridges that were sold in the past that exceeded 40-50 years old, and that powder still fired. I ran into .303 rounds that were actually loaded with cordite, and that amazed me at the time.

Do you really think that the millions of rounds of old surplus ammo that were sold in the past, when said ammo was likely to have been leftover from WWII, Korea, or other sources, were stored properly for all that time, yet still managed to function?
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Old July 14, 2010, 03:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
My question is, that since these powders were stored, in original cans, lids tight, dry,etc.etc., for appx. 6 yrs in his non-climate controlled garage, what are the odds that these powders were affected in any way by the hot temps of summer and cold temps of winter for this long of a time? I would like to use the powders, but am not willing to sacrifice a gun in order to save a few bucks. Thanks for any input.- Steve

I used to know an Navy Energics specialist. He explained that powder deteriorates from the day it leaves the factory. The Nitrocellulose and nitro glycerin want to combine to form a lower energy molecule. Nitric gas is released in the chemical reaction. The rate of combination is directly related to temperature. The higher the temperature the faster the reaction. Powder contains stabilizers. The Navy samples its powders and propellants. If the powder is outgassing nitric gas (as determined by a paper that changes color (Methly Violet test, or Talliani test)), the stuff is tested to see how much stabilizer is left. (Stabilizer is either MNA or 2-NDPA) When the concentration of stabilizer is LT or EQ to 20% of the original content, the Navy scrapes the lot.

The Army does it different. The Army scraps small arms powders by time. Double based powders and ammunition are scrapped at 20 years, single based 45 years.

The military does not talk about this, but bunkers and ammunition storage areas have gone Kaboom due to old powder. That nitric acid builds up, creates heat, and the stuff blows up. It blows up inside the case or the shell.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=13c_1205681217


If the powder has turned red, or smells like acid, it is way beyond its safe limits.

I talked to Alliant powders. They told me that if the plating inside the old cans is has rust spots, the powder is doing that, and the powder should be dumped.


Per the expert, the best storage conditions for powder is arctic cold. That is cold and dry. He said water exposure damages powder.

This might be of interest:


www.dtic.mil/dticasd/sbir/sbir031/n154.doc
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Old July 14, 2010, 04:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlamFire
I talked to Alliant powders. They told me that if the plating inside the old cans is has rust spots, the powder is doing that, and the powder should be dumped.


Per the expert, the best storage conditions for powder is arctic cold. That is cold and dry. He said water exposure damages powder.

That bit about the water is interesting. I suspect it would in reality be uncontrolled humidity. I say that because it has been reported that Alliant has a 100+ year old sample of Unique that is stored IN water, as in, the powder itself is wet, underwater. They take some out periodically, dry it out and test it. Word is that it still works just fine.
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Old July 14, 2010, 05:01 PM   #10
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I haven't reloaded long enough to attest to smokeless powder aging yet, but I did crack open a can of Black Powder last season that was at least 15 years old. It was stored in an outdoor building that did not have any form of electricity to it whatsoever. It shot fine, and the bottle had been opened.
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Old July 14, 2010, 05:27 PM   #11
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I have a gunzine article describing shooting tests in which a can of pre-WW I duPont was superior to fresh Goex. Black powder does not age out, it likely gets better with solid state diffusion of the ingredients... but very very slowly.
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Old July 14, 2010, 05:33 PM   #12
SKHarris
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I just got off the phone with Hogdon, and their response was pretty much the same as all of the ones here. I cant see ANY red, and I had my wife compare the odors of the old powders to the powders that I have purchased recently and they seem to be the same(according to her, she has to smell funky odors regularly beccause of me- I dont get it) but anyway, thanks to all for the advice. -Steve
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Old July 14, 2010, 07:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
That bit about the water is interesting. I suspect it would in reality be uncontrolled humidity. I say that because it has been reported that Alliant has a 100+ year old sample of Unique that is stored IN water, as in, the powder itself is wet, underwater. They take some out periodically, dry it out and test it. Word is that it still works just fine
I have not only heard this, but I talked with Hercules in the 90's. The rep told me that the powder was discontinued. Might have been Sharpshooter or Lighting?

The expert said water is ionic and damages the surface of powder grains. He said shelf life is reduced after exposure to water.

Gunpowder is a very complex chemical. Rust, water, ionic compounds interact with the chemical bonds and pull nitro to the surface.
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Old July 14, 2010, 07:26 PM   #14
Brian Pfleuger
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Interesting.

Well, I just sent off a message to Alliant. I will report back to this thread when they respond.
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Old July 14, 2010, 07:27 PM   #15
Slamfire
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See if they recommend storing gunpowder underwater. And if they don't, why.
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Old July 14, 2010, 10:27 PM   #16
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I'll pay for shipping if you're scared of the powder.
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Old July 14, 2010, 10:42 PM   #17
Loader9
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Most all powder makers keep their inventory stored under water. Hodgdon keeps theirs in round ball containers that are waxed, fiber wrapped and then waxed again. They then place it under water. The reason is simple. It's not hardly going to explode if it's under water- makes storage a no brainer and safe.
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Old July 14, 2010, 10:43 PM   #18
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Sounds like your wife has the ' nose of the family' too.

I don't trust my nose to anything anymore. I've had too many furniture stripper and gasoline smells in there for it to make any count anymore when it counts.
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Old July 14, 2010, 10:47 PM   #19
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I don't trust my nose to anything anymore. I've had too many furniture stripper and gasoline smells in there for it to make any count anymore when it counts.
Same here. More than once, I've finished a bowl of cereal only to have the wife pull the milk out of the fridge a few minutes later for her cereal and declare it "blinky".
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Old July 28, 2010, 09:03 AM   #20
Brian Pfleuger
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Ok, here's the response from Alliant:

"We do have some very old Unique, over 100 years old, that we keep in
distilled water. We have tested it on occasion, but seldom, simply out
of curiosity. Hercules saved this powder and we will continue to
preserve it. Thanks for your note and have a nice day.

Ben Amonette
Consumer Service Manager
Alliant Powder Company"



I have replied, asking if by "keep in distilled water" they literally mean IN the water as in the powder itself is wet and must be dried before use and also if they would recommend long term storage in distilled water and if not, why. I will post the response.
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Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; July 28, 2010 at 09:09 AM.
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Old July 28, 2010, 09:31 AM   #21
darkgael
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Unique

I have seen pictures of that sample of Unique; it was back when Hercules still had their facility in New Jersey. The powder was kept in a large, old-fashioned laboratory bell jar full of distilled water.
I have a number of cans of functional, safe, powder that are fifteen years old. The primers that I have been using lately were bought in 1995.
Pete
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Old July 28, 2010, 10:05 AM   #22
Brian Pfleuger
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Well, that was quick...

"The powder is wet.

We do not recommend this type of storage with modern powder. The coatings and deterrents are different today than at that time. Thanks for your return note.

Ben Amonette
Consumer Service Manager
Alliant Powder Company"



So, there you have it. Straight from the horses mouth.
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