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Old November 12, 2012, 10:38 AM   #1
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What chemical dissolves propellant? Its stuck in my hand.

Does anyone know how to dissolve propellant?

Long story short I had an accident at the range with a Mosin Nagant. I was cycling the action a few times to figure out why my ejector wasn't working properly and didn't notice the first failure to extract I ever had. This caused a double feed initiating the unsupported round in the chamber firing a bullet (into the target backing thank god). The primer was pierced and shot unburnt propellant, the steel berdan anvil and bits of the primer into my hand and face.

Luckily I was wearing eye and ear protection, my glasses smacking my face gave me a bloody nose and stopped the hot gasses and fragmentation from hitting my left eye.

My problem is my right hand is full of little bits of unburnt 1940s straw colored propellant. I can pick some out with tweezers and scrubbing but I was wondering if there is something safe to put on my hand that would dissolve the propellant. I hoped neosporin might break it down but it isn't.

I have been to the ER already I'm not just self treating the wound. It looks like a very fine birdshot wound down the right side of my hand.
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Old November 12, 2012, 02:01 PM   #2
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Can't help with removing propellant from your hand, sorry, but am certainly glad to hear you weren't injured worse than you were. Good on you for wearing safety glasses. And a reminder to us all that we can't be too careful!
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Old November 12, 2012, 02:12 PM   #3
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Any solvent that will dissolve powder probably isn't something you want to apply to yourself to begin with, but acetone (nail polish remover) would probably do a good job (or, it'll sting like hell, and make you wish you had left it alone).
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Old November 12, 2012, 02:18 PM   #4
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Personally I'd just try soaking your hand in water until you get pruny. The slow shift of your skin should work it out naturally.
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Old November 12, 2012, 03:31 PM   #5
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I didnt have high hopes that someone would come up with something that wouldn't kill all the good skin cells in my hand. I hoped neosporin would work on it over time but hasn't. I have been doing the prune skin with tweezers and needle routine.

I though you might enjoy the story more than anything.

I'm surprised someone hasn't chewed me out for being an idiot yet.
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Old November 12, 2012, 03:44 PM   #6
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You're an idiot! (feel better now?

Try fingernail polish remover.
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Old November 12, 2012, 04:02 PM   #7
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Or Douse your hand in elmer's glue, let it dry, and peel... seem how much the "heat" of having your hand encased like that for a while will open pores then stick to the glue...
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Old November 12, 2012, 04:08 PM   #8
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The acetone in zxcvbob's fingernail polish will dissolve nitrocellulose.
But I fear soaking in acetone would be harder on your hand than some imbedded powder granules.

Neosporin is an antibiotic with no solvent properties I know of.
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Old November 12, 2012, 04:12 PM   #9
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Now that I think about it, there's supposed to be some sort of all natural CLP out there called Frog Lube...
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Old November 12, 2012, 04:21 PM   #10
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JimDandy had the only good idea, some of that stuff deep in you will be their for years till it breaks down naturally but soaking will eventually get all the shallow particles out. In my case it was black powder because some %$&@@#))* shot a BP pistol from just behind and to the left of me. No ball just wad and powder. Lots of powder. Had black flecks in my skin for a good 5 years.
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Old November 12, 2012, 04:55 PM   #11
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Sorry about the mishap. From your discription, sounds like a true accident you %&*$^ #@@
However, might you have a couple pictures of gun, cartridge, U ??
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Old November 12, 2012, 05:01 PM   #12
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Soak it in ebson’s salt and water then get some sticky tape and it will lift out the partials
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Old November 12, 2012, 05:25 PM   #13
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Glad you're OK.

No way in heck would I to try to get a solvent under my skin, but OTOH, there's no way those things would stay under my skin either.

I would find something to bite down on and start picking with a razor blade and tweezers. I would soak the hand in hot water and peroxide in between picking sessions.
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Old November 12, 2012, 05:50 PM   #14
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It was mostly accident and some part my fault for not seeing the double feed. I still want to blame my self. At least I was pointed downrange and wearing eye protection and didn't have anyone sitting at the bench to my right.

The reason I thought the neosporin might work is its mostly petroleum jelly and I was hoping the oil would break it down. I am scrubbing my butt off but the stuff shot deep into my hand like a thousand splinters. The x-ray shows a chunk of metal about an inch into my hand.

The only thing on the weapon damaged was the extractor being bent and the stock has a hairline crack behind the receiver. The steel cartridge that was in the chamber blew out the primer and berdan anvil piece (whats in my hand I suspect) and bulged around the base. The round that struck the primer has the bullet a bit bent along with a crease in the casing.

I don't know if a brass case would have burst on me I might be lucky it was steel otherwise I might not have a pinky finger.
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Old November 12, 2012, 06:10 PM   #15
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Anything that's near the surface will gradually come out as the skin cells die off, fall off, and are replaced from underneath. Anything below the skin will be encapsulated and just stay there.

Solvents for nitrocellulose (the straw color left after the graphite or other surface coating is burned off the grains) include acetone and ethyl ether and several others. They will make the nitrocellulose gel-like and it will then act a little like model airplane cement. They will also dissolve the oils from your skin, leaving it very dry and will sting badly if raw skin is underneath a particle. Letting it grow out may not be so bad.
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Old November 12, 2012, 06:18 PM   #16
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Bio-Brochure from Froglube... Says it's food-grade bio-degradeable... I still don't think it'll draw anything OUT more than opening and closing your pores often will.. I think you'll have to wrap your hands in moist heat, or soak in a warm bath in a sink or bucket or something and let the biomechanics do the work for you, but that may be something to help clean up after your hands that won't be caustic.
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Old November 12, 2012, 10:03 PM   #17
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Keep picking with tweezers. Petroleum jelly is too "thick" to dissolve the nitrocellulose.

You could mix alcohol and ether to make the "production" solvent, but that would sting like... well like alcohol on an open wound.

Be glad it isn't particularly toxic, and best of luck healing.

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Old November 13, 2012, 01:09 AM   #18
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Just speculating here: At certain depths, anything embedded in your skin is basically a tattoo as noted by Oldgrump and UncleNick. Deeper and it may enter your system and be excreted through your liver/kidney functions. Check with your doctor to see if you should be concerned about toxicity. Shallow embeds will sluff off with your natural skin exfoliation. In between those depths and you have a tattoo that is probably as permanent as any inking done by a professional.

Good luck. Glad you are not badly hurt. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Old November 13, 2012, 02:04 AM   #19
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Just light the little bits that are sticking out. Sure it'll smart, but it shouldn't bleed.
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Old November 13, 2012, 09:51 AM   #20
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What did the doctor at the ER tell you? Did'nt he/she have a suggestion?
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Old November 13, 2012, 02:05 PM   #21
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This sounds like a question for a front line M*A*S*H* unit surgeon . Anyone have a relative who has or is actively serving in the medical core ? Pretty sure they have seen things of this nature.
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Old November 13, 2012, 03:01 PM   #22
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I appreciate you sharing your story. I believe there's always a lesson to be learned when someone is willing to share these incidents -- even at the risk of ridicule.

Apologies that I can't offer help for your injury.

As for "fault" and "blame", I say that you get two solid points for:
--rifle being pointed in a safe direction
--wearing eye protection

You do, however, get dinged for two pure failures:
--violently jacking the bolt of a rifle with a chambered round
--violently jacking the bolt of a rifle with a loaded magazine

You shouldn't be beat up over this, however:
It was mostly accident and some part my fault for not seeing the double feed. I still want to blame my self.
I believe it's absolutely, 100% your fault, and I don't see much debate otherwise. Again, don't beat yourself up over it -- you had eye protection on and the rifle pointed in a safe direction and those are definitely good lessons and both paid off.

I hope your recover fully -- you will have a cool story to tell.
If you it makes you feel any better, I wrecked an estimated 12% of my body with 3rd degree burns one evening while intending to make french fries. This happened 9 years ago and my arm still looks somewhat like a character from a B-movie. And I never even got the french fries, but I did miss two months of work.
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Old November 13, 2012, 04:02 PM   #23
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Drywall8, send the wife to Walgreens and get a tin of PRID, use it heavily and go by the instructions, I have seen this stuff pull barbedwire and nails through an arm it works!
Soak your hand in Tide laundry soap and hot water until it prunes, then pick what you can from the wound, then dry and use the PRID.

Ans SEVENS who the hell cares who's fault it is, it was an accident now lets help pull him from it........ and Drywall8, hell no I don't want to go to the range with you.
Thanks for coming!
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Old November 14, 2012, 01:02 AM   #24
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Probably about 50 years ago . . . I got stabbed in the palm of the hand with a lead(graphite) pencil. All the other kids told me I was gonna die of lead poisoning, so I was worried for a while. The mark is still there. Battle scar . . .
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Old November 14, 2012, 07:39 AM   #25
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My Mother has a tiny amount of a drawing salve that my Grandfather made. We don't know the recipe, except that it was made with an extra large measure of STINK!

But man did that stuff work.


Try the drawing salve. If it doesn't work, just let nature take its course as Nick said.

Nitrocellulose isn't really poisonous. Some of the residual solvents may be, but they are in tiny amounts.

The LAST thing you want to do, though, is to try to dissolve the stuff. Toluene will work fairly well, but it will also strip every last bit of oil out of your skin and likely give you one hell of a case of chemical contact dermatitis.
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