The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old September 19, 2012, 08:19 PM   #1
340ka
Junior Member
 
Join Date: September 10, 2012
Posts: 7
Powder Expiration

I have an 8lb can of IMR 4064 that I bought back in 1995. There is about 3lb of powder left in the can. I have always kept it in the original can. There appears to be a very fine rust colored dust mingled with the powder. Is it now expired and should be discarded?
I am new to this forum and this is my first post.
340ka is offline  
Old September 19, 2012, 08:41 PM   #2
Edward429451
Junior member
 
Join Date: November 12, 2000
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Posts: 9,494
The high nitrogen content will make it good fertilizer. Spread it around under the rose bush and wet it down real good with the sprinkler. Red dust is deterioration.
Edward429451 is offline  
Old September 19, 2012, 09:34 PM   #3
jcwit
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 28, 2007
Location: Upper Indiana
Posts: 605
Whats it smell like? If it smell like ether or solvents it's good, if it smells like acid, toss it.
__________________
U.S. Army Veteran
NRA Certified Range Officer
jcwit is offline  
Old September 19, 2012, 09:50 PM   #4
Brian Pfleuger
Staff
 
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Central, Southern NY, USA
Posts: 18,791
Red dust is an indicator of bad powder. Even though powder should have a life much, much longer than 17 years, it sounds like yours has gone bad. Most likley cause is some sort of unsealed container, improper storage, high humidity and/or heat.
__________________
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
-----
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 06:00 AM   #5
340ka
Junior Member
 
Join Date: September 10, 2012
Posts: 7
Thank you for the replies. I thought I always kept the can tightly closed, but I did move from the Arizona desert (where it might have gotten a little warm once or twice), to NW Ohio which is pretty humid. Well, there's plenty of garden to fertilize!
340ka is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 06:08 AM   #6
Pistolgripshotty
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 19, 2012
Location: Somewhere out there
Posts: 184
Its all in how it smells and consistency.
__________________
12 Gauge Fury!
Pistolgripshotty is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 06:43 AM   #7
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,312
"Its all in how it smells and consistency."

No, it's not.

As others have said, how it looks is also a critical indicator.

Red "dust" is a classic sign of early stages of decomposition.

It may still smell, somewhat OK, because not all of the powder is decomposing at once, so you'll still have some of the ether odors there.

The powder must go.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 07:49 AM   #8
BPowderkeg
Junior member
 
Join Date: September 27, 2011
Posts: 382
rinse it in cold water spread on sheet in sun to dry, when dry put it in a dark glass or plastic container let set a few days then give it the sniff test.

"red dust" is usually RUST from the inside of the "can".., you did say "can".. ?
BPowderkeg is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 08:49 AM   #9
Nathan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2001
Posts: 2,050
IMO, if it is visibly changed, I would call it old and discard. Powder is just too dangerous for me to be careless.

Also, ideally, I like to get it used up or discarded in a couple of years.
Nathan is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 08:55 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,312
That's a good point, powderkeg, but not always the case.

Simply dumping the powder out onto a piece of white paper and then shining a light into the can will tell you whether it's a rust issue or not.

Also, the two -- rust vs deteoriated powder -- look VERY different. Nitric Oxide (I think that's what it is, but can't remember for sure) is powdery.

Rust generally has a... chunkier... look (for lack of a better term) and is darker.

Which also brings up another very important point...

If the interior of the can IS rusted...

WHY is the interior of the can rusted?

It's because the powder has started to deteoriate (sp?) and has released fumes that are corrosive to the metal.

The ONLY time I have ever seen the interior of a can of powder rust is because the powder rotted.

I have a half dozen cans of powder in my basement right now, all of which were purchased in the early to mid 1980s, and none of them show the slightest indication of rust on the interior of the cans even though two of them are showing surface rust on the exterior, courtesy of my fingerprints and damp basement conditions.


So...

If there is dark to bright red, powdery to chunky contamination of any kind in the powder, chances are good that the powder is not good.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 09:19 AM   #11
Slamfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2007
Posts: 4,133
Quote:
rinse it in cold water spread on sheet in sun to dry, when dry put it in a dark glass or plastic container let set a few days then give it the sniff test.

"red dust" is usually RUST from the inside of the "can".., you did say "can".. ?
If the powder is outgassing NOx enough to create rust within the can, rinsing the powder will not do anything as the stabilizer within the powder mix has been consumed.


ROLE OF DIPHENYLAMINE AS A STABILIZER IN PROPELLANTS;
ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY OF DIPHENYLAMINE IN PROPELLANTS
Quote:
Nitrocellulose-base propellants are essentially unstable materials
that decompose on aging with the evolution of oxides of nitrogen. The
decomposition is autocatalytic and can lead to failure of the ammunition or disastrous explosions.
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/783499.pdf

Heat, as you can see in the report, will age gunpowder




Section from the Propellant Management Guide:

Stabilizers are chemical ingredients added to propellant at time of manufacture to
decrease the rate of propellant degradation and reduce the probability of auto ignition during its expected useful life.

As nitrocellulose-based propellants decompose, they release nitrogen oxides. If the nitrogen oxides are left free to react in the propellant, they can react with the nitrate ester, causing further decomposition and additional release of nitrogen oxides. The reaction between the nitrate ester and the nitrogen oxides is exothermic (i.e., the reaction produces heat). Heat increases the rate of propellant decomposition. More importantly, the exothermic nature of the reaction creates a problem if sufficient heat is generated to initiate combustion. Chemical additives, referred to as stabilizers, are added to propellant formulations to react with free nitrogen oxides to prevent their attack on the nitrate esters in the propellant. The stabilizers are scavengers that act rather like sponges, and once they become “saturated” they are no longer able to remove nitrogen oxides from the propellant. Self-heating of the propellant can occur unabated at the “saturation” point without the ameliorating effect of the stabilizer. Once begun, the self-heating may become sufficient to cause auto ignition.


It is best practice to discard old gunpowder with red dust. Might be overly conservative but old gunpowder does not burn evenly and has caused blowups.
__________________
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.
Slamfire is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 11:54 AM   #12
340ka
Junior Member
 
Join Date: September 10, 2012
Posts: 7
The powder still has the ether smell, but thanks to all the good information, it's going in the garden. I do NOT want to risk blowing up my old heavy barrel .308 M77.
Now this brings up another point that maybe I should post on the bullet casting forum. I am planning on buying some cast bullets and trying some shooting with them (.308). When I was in the desert southwest, I shot high power metallic silhouette and hunted coyotes so it was all about fairly high velocity to reach out and get those coyotes. I now live on a farm in northwest Ohio. The fields are small and neighbors are relatively close. All shots at groundhogs and coyotes have been at a distance of less than 120 yards. I am ready to try something slower and quieter. So, I will be needing to buy new powder anyway for the cast bullet loads. Is there directions on this site on how to slug the barrel ? Many thanks again for all the input!
340ka is offline  
Old September 20, 2012, 09:35 PM   #13
hk33ka1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 20, 2010
Posts: 275
Rust color dust is bad powder. Burn or throw it out on the ground.

Some people have surplus powder from the war, commercial stuff from the 70's etc that's still good. Others had it go bad in 10-20 years.
hk33ka1 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:19 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.09389 seconds with 9 queries