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Old March 31, 2005, 05:30 PM   #1
Capt. Charlie
Join Date: March 24, 2005
Location: Steubenville, OH
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Shelf life of powders?

This was probably a dumb stunt on my part, but here goes. A little over 10 yrs ago, I was really into reloading, and my Dillon 650 was busy darned near every day. Then we moved and the Dillon, along with everything else, remained packed away. The demands of job, family, etc. took all my time and I drifted away from reloading. A couple of weeks ago, I finally bought a decent reloading bench and dug out my equipment. In one box were about eight pounds of various powders including W-231, Bullseye, Herco, IMR, Unique, etc. My question is how stable are these powders, both single based and double based, over time? I've worked with explosives and know the dangers of "sweating" dynamite, etc., but I have no idea about smokeless powders. Until I find out, I'm treating this stuff like liquid nitro. Same question and concerns about primers. What is a safe way to dispose of both?
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Old March 31, 2005, 06:00 PM   #2
Art Eatman
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If there's no orange-colored dust, or if it smells "just like it used to", it's okay. Decaying powder will smell sorta sour, and commonly will have an orange cast to the powder-dust. If so, scatter it on the ground for fertilizer. Or, put a sheet of newspaper on the ground, spread the powder out, and light an edge of the paper. No big deal...

If kept snugly capped and in the proverbial "cool, dry place", it'll last a heckuva long time.

You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
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Old March 31, 2005, 06:43 PM   #3
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I had almost the same question a month or so ago. I checked with Mfg. about shelf life. I will share some of it with you as soon as I can find it. Until then, here is a source if you wish to use it. I have pasted it here from their newsletter.


Tech Questions - if you have a technical question about how a load of powder works in your firearm, remember we give free tech support during business hours! Please see below...

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For Technical Questions, send email to [email protected] or visit and
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Old March 31, 2005, 07:17 PM   #4
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Here is my question to Alliant with their answer below.

I had asked about mixing powders and what I had intended to say was... using the old along with the new using the same data etc. but not mixed within one round. However, I was not very clear and they gave me the safe answer thinking that I wanted to put both old and new in a can and stir them up to make one.

My Question:

I have retired, and just started reloading again after about 1 dozen years. I have some old powder that is still sealed in 1 lb. bottles. I talked to several who felt it should be still good. I use it for range and plinking and not for reliable self defense.

I decided to purchase new bottles of the same powders and then try them in comparison with a chronograph to see how they are.

I have Red Dot, Green Dot, Unique, 2400, Bulls Eye, and a newer bottle of Power Pistol, I only bought fresh in Bulls Eye, Unique and Power Pistol to start with for my comparisons.

Am I ok doing this, or are these powders too old to consider? Is mixing them (mix like brands, an old with the new) something that can be done safely? Have the forumalitions changed that would forbid mixing?

They were stored in a basement where temp. range was maybe a 20 degree max. swing between seasons. About 55 to 75 degrees but mostly 60-65 degrees year round.

Also, I would like to have your most current loading datas for these powders if still availible for you to mail them to me. Do you still have the paperback brochure powder books that you give out? I have a new Lyman edition handbook, but there are few loads listed that will help me. I am loading both shotgun and pistol.

I understand that for liability reasons, you are more likely to tell me to properly dispose of old and get on with it. However, I think if I were still loading all these years, it's possible I would still be using some of these and would not think of it being a concern. What do you suggest?

Thanks you,


If stored in the original container, and in a cool, dry location, our powder will easily last 30 years. I suspect that your powder is fine. We do not recommend that you blend like powders. Leave that to us.

We will be happy to send you our reloading guide. Thanks for your interest in contacting us and let me know if you have any additional questions. Have a nice day.

Ben Amonette
Consumer Service Manager
Alliant Powder Company


Within about a week I had their loading manual show up in the mail. This will give you building code for storage and disposal instructions along with just about anything you would want to know about Alliant Powders. I thought this was a good book (and free) and I suggest you request a copy for your refrence.

I don't know if this answer would be the same from other powder makers or not, but it covered everythink I had left in storage. I have yet to load any to compare. It will be interesting to see how they chart out.

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Old March 31, 2005, 10:36 PM   #5
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I have some PB and Herco from about '83 when a discount store went out of business and was selling them at $1.50 a can, I bought 10 cans of each and am just now starting on the last 2 cans, they seem to be fine, they have not had real climate controlled storage, but I doubt if they have ever been above 115-120' [I live in Texas].
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Old April 1, 2005, 12:19 AM   #6
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Gosh...I'm still using powder made in the last century!

Not only was made in the last millennium!!!!!
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Old April 1, 2005, 12:21 AM   #7
Capt. Charlie
Join Date: March 24, 2005
Location: Steubenville, OH
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Great news! Thanks guys, with special thanks to dead nuts zero for looking up that great info! Nice to know that I don't have to hold my breath when I handle this stuff from now on.
TFL Members are ambassadors to the world for firearm owners. What kind of ambassador does your post make you?

I train in earnest, to do the things that I pray in earnest, I'll never have to do.

--Capt. Charlie
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Old April 6, 2005, 08:24 AM   #8
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Blend Powders?

What do they mean don't blend powders?
I had some old H4227 that I forgot I had and bought a new can, then when I was trying to find a place to put the new can found the old half full can, so I blended them together a shot a load. I don't think I used enough to get the velocity that I needed, but it shot fine.

Happy shooting
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Old April 6, 2005, 08:32 AM   #9
Robert Allison
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I have some powder in my basement that I purchased in the 70s. It's still fine, just checked it a couple of weeks ago. I live in a part of the country where high humidity is seldom an issue, so the 'cool, dry place' admonition is not a problem.
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