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Old March 29, 2013, 02:53 PM   #1
troutcreek
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Shelf Life

There is a lot of myth surrounding the shelf life of black powder. I personally feel that if stored properly the shelf life is almost indefinite.
Does anyone have background on how long black powder can be store in the can?
FYI- I searched the forum and most of the information was how long a black powder arm could remain loaded. I’m looking for how long I can store it in the can.
Thank you,
Ray
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Old March 29, 2013, 03:15 PM   #2
B.L.E.
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As long as it is kept dry, it should last virtually forever. Even if it gets dampened, it will work again once it drys out.
Potassium nitrate lasts nearly forever
Charcoal lasts nearly forever
Sulfur lasts nearly forever
A mixture of the three should last nearly forever.
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Old March 29, 2013, 03:18 PM   #3
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Last summer we finished off what was originally a large tobacco can full of black powder that was at least 70 years old, and probably more like a hundred or more. My dad remembered my grandfather having it in his shop when he (dad) was eight or nine years old, which was in 1940 or 1941. Dad's pretty sure that it was his grandfather's powder to begin with.

It worked every bit as well as the brand new Schuetzen powder that I bought last spring.

And, for what it's worth, it wasn't exactly stored in optimal conditions. In Gramps' shop in North Dakota, the temps ranged from 110 in the summer to 20 below in the winter. And here in Idaho, it gets about that hot, but thankfully, not nearly so cold where we live. I found the tobacco can in the late '90s, when my folks sold their house. Far be it from me to scold my dad on how to store a half pound of explosives, but he did keep it in a more climate-controlled location after that.
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Old March 29, 2013, 06:15 PM   #4
Muler44
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Black Powder life span

There is a thread on another forum I was reading awhile back. In it a member was talking about the quality of black powder and what was adequate. He said he shot modern powder for plinking and hunting but has a stash of real deal DuPont Black Powder that he uses for competitive use. He said it is around 150 years old and burns cleaner and faster than any of the modern varieties. I don't know how it's being stored but I suspect it is in the original packaging. Sounds to me like it's holding up pretty well!
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Old March 29, 2013, 06:27 PM   #5
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More than a few peope have been injured or killed by playing with a Civil War rifle they thought was empty or the powder 'safe' .
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Old March 29, 2013, 06:35 PM   #6
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Mete is exactly right!
When I was doing restoration work for various museums back in the 70s we got in guns from the Civil War period (and sometimes earlier) on a regular basis.
I'd say about 1 out of 3 was loaded.

That makes sense if you think that in times when muzzleloading arms were the "assault rifles", you didn't wait until danger appeared before you loaded them. They were kept loaded.

Anyway, every loaded rifle or smoothbore I ever took apart had powder that was fully able to fire.
None of the charges were "dead". Not one!
Be careful!
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Old March 29, 2013, 06:45 PM   #7
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They've brought up loaded cannon from the bottom of the ocean that have been there for 400 years and more. Dried the powder out and it was fine.
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Old March 29, 2013, 06:58 PM   #8
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There was a news report last week about a Revolutionary war cannon in Central Park that was still loaded. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/01/...-central-park/
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Old March 29, 2013, 08:16 PM   #9
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blackpowder is longevity simplified. if it gets moist, wet, damp. simply dry it and regrind it. and you can go shoot your gun. these new fangled nitro based powders, well they have a definite shelflife.

strangely enough these new cf primers have a shorter life span then the old non environmentally friendly primers of yesteryear.
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Old March 29, 2013, 08:22 PM   #10
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What do you guys think about the substitutes? 777/Pyrodex, if stored in the original containers, unopened, would you think they would last forever? How about opened original containers/similar type containers stored in cool, low humidity conditions? Do the compounds of substitutes degrade faster than real Black?
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Old March 29, 2013, 08:59 PM   #11
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Pyrodex and Triple Se7en are pretty stable over time. Some of the others may not be - it depends upon their chemistry. If I recall correctly, black powder is just a mixture, while the substitutes have more complicated chemical compositions.
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Old March 29, 2013, 11:00 PM   #12
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Kept dry, blackpowder is forever. Dunno about synthetics. I suspect they deteriorate with age.
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Old March 29, 2013, 11:23 PM   #13
Hawg
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I don't know how long Pyrodex will last but an opened bottle will keep for several years. I came across about a half pound I had forgotten about and it was fine.
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Old March 29, 2013, 11:53 PM   #14
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Re: Shelf Life

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muler44 View Post
There is a thread on another forum I was reading awhile back. In it a member was talking about the quality of black powder and what was adequate. He said he shot modern powder for plinking and hunting but has a stash of real deal DuPont Black Powder that he uses for competitive use. He said it is around 150 years old and burns cleaner and faster than any of the modern varieties. I don't know how it's being stored but I suspect it is in the original packaging. Sounds to me like it's holding up pretty well!
My barber was saying he still has some Dupont powder left over. Perhaps it's time to try to talk him out of it.
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Old March 30, 2013, 01:09 AM   #15
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The thing I find most distressing is the way the news article demonized the cannon. Like it was an instrument of mass destruction. Sure a loaded cannon is not entirely benign, but it had been that way for over 200 years and had caused no problem. Give it to the liberal press to demonize everything firearms related. After being a Democrat for over 40 years of my life I wrote every Democratic politician I could vote for about my opposition to gun control. Every one of them wrote me back and basically said good riddance of you. I guess from now on I am voting against every Democratic candidate.
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Old March 30, 2013, 04:19 AM   #16
Hawg
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Quote:
There was a news report last week about a Revolutionary war cannon in Central Park that was still loaded.
It was probably spiked anyway. I've never seen but a couple of display cannon that weren't.
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