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Old March 28, 2015, 01:52 PM   #1
papazip
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rusty powder?

Hi guys,
Just opened an old but full can of imr 4320. The powder was covered with an extremely fine rust colored dust. What do you make of that?
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Old March 28, 2015, 02:34 PM   #2
j357
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Red dust or rusty look is said to be indicative of powder gone bad.

Spread some of it out on a sheet of notebook paper to confirm the dust color.

What does it smell like? Vinegar - acrid smell is another sign that may or may not be present in bad powder but isn't the scent in good powder.
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Old March 28, 2015, 03:23 PM   #3
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Sounds like decomposition, proceed with caution.
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Old March 28, 2015, 05:17 PM   #4
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I have had IMR 4198 that had red dust in it, but the powder was still good. The strong solvent smell was normal. It was just part of the slow rusting of the inside of an 8 pound metal can after years of storage. A very small amount of red dust, but it was red, not powder fines.

I also had IMR 4350 that was much newer in a 1 pound metal can. Red dust, much heavier and the powder was going bad. No acid smell but no solvent smell either. I dumped this one after I fired a few test rounds and was getting much higher velocity than normal.

You can't be wrong if you dump it on the lawn. But it might still be salvageable.
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Old March 28, 2015, 05:18 PM   #5
papazip
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Thanks for the info. Guess I'll have to cook it. Thankfully it was from the 16$ a pound days, but replacing it will hurt a little.
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Old March 29, 2015, 04:23 PM   #6
Mike Irwin
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Don't breathe the powder. It is poisonous.
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Old March 29, 2015, 06:33 PM   #7
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I used some 25 year old IMR 4831 in a 1 lb metal can awhile back that had some rusty looking stuff in it. It was from my dad's old stock of powder from his reloading days. It smelled ok so I loaded some of it up. It shot accurately and velocities were as expected. No signs of excess pressure.

The more I thought about the rusty specs mixed in with the powder and what adverse effects I might experience from it traveling down and sticking to my bore, the less I liked the idea of using it. After all, those specs were nothing more than rusty flakes of steel from the inside of the can corroding. So I ended up dumping it and buying some new powder.

Was it hurting anything? Maybe not. But I'd rather play it safe and ease my own mind than to wonder what damage I might be doing each time I pull the trigger. My policy is: when in doubt, consider it fertilizer.
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Old March 29, 2015, 07:18 PM   #8
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The concern, as Jepp2's 4350 experience exemplifies, is that when the nitrocellulose breaks down, the acid radicals that make both red fumes and the red dust are destroying the powder's deterrent coatings faster than the nitrocellulose itself. That results in the powder's burn rate going up. Sometimes way up. Such powder should not even be experimented with, IMHO. It costs less than a gun does to replace, so one is better off getting some new powder.

I would be wary of red rust that came from an old steel can. You have to ask why the can rusted. If it did so from the outside, you may be ok. But if it did so from the inside, the chances are the rust was started by acid fumes coming from decomposing powder.

Powder does not start to decompose until its stabilizer is consumed. Once that happens the burn rate can go, or the powder can weaken. Chances are a lot of it does both, in sequence, first getting dangerously fast, then fast but weak.
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Old March 29, 2015, 09:16 PM   #9
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Bad Powder

Some years ago I bought (4)- 1# cans of H322 [all that on he shelf] and one of them was bad....all the signs/smell. I called HODGDON and was sent a new can. I offered to return the bad can for verification, but was told to spread it on the lawn. It might be worth your while to contact the distributor/wholesaler with the situation. It couldn't hurt.
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Old March 30, 2015, 06:31 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
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"Powder does not start to decompose until its stabilizer is consumed."

Well..... no.

To put a finer nuance on it, consumption of the stabilizer is part of the process of powder decomposition.
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Old March 30, 2015, 12:46 PM   #11
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Yes. I misspoke. The decomposition doesn't start releasing acids to act on other compounds in the powder (or the can) and to accelerate NC breakdown until the stabilizer has been consumed. What consumes the stabilizer is scavenging smaller quantities of those same acid decomposition products from the much slower spontaneous NC decomposition that occurs in the absence of acid in any significant concentration.
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