Storage and Disposal of Blackpowder


December 25, 2002, 02:32 AM
Does blackpowder have any special requirements for storage? How long can it be stored safely? Are there any reasons to avoid using it after a certain amount of time? If you need to dispose of some, what's the best way to do so? (Other than shooting?) TIA.

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December 25, 2002, 02:45 AM
I have a question. How long can you leave a BP pistol loaded for. I have one right now that is a about a six months. Sitting in its case. Ive left it before for a few months before and it was fine and shot well

December 25, 2002, 03:46 AM
If someone would edit the title of the thread, I'd be much obliged.

December 25, 2002, 04:05 AM
When I was loading BP I took extra care on the storage. The cans of BP (well Pyrodex really) were tightly sealed and those were kept in a DOD Ammo Can locked.

I like the DOD Ammo Cans as they have a rubber seal to keep out the moisture, and they add an extra layer of security.

As for disposal... being an admitted Pyro I pour it (and smokeless)on the ground and light it off. :D Much Flame, Much Smoke... Ooo OOOOO OH!

I'll edit the Title, what do you want to change it to? ;)

December 25, 2002, 04:16 AM
Thanks for fixing that. (I proofread everything but that. )

Seems I have the storage part covered, but do you know if the powder has a shelf life? I used to have a BP revolver, but the thing destroyed itself after a few dozen shots, now I'm thinking about buying a new gun. If I do I want to be sure it's safe to use the powder I have. I have a can which is at least six yrs. old, and I'm wondering if BP becomes unstable over time or anything to that effect. If I don't buy one I would like to get rid of the powder.

Brian Williams
December 25, 2002, 08:59 AM
I have some BP from 1975 that still goes boom when I want. It is ffffg and I only use a little at a time so it has lasted forever.

I keep it in a Ammo can with my 1851 navy.

December 25, 2002, 09:03 AM
Thanks Perfessr. You know you have powder that's older than I am!:D

Dave Markowitz
December 25, 2002, 09:55 AM
BP should last a long, long time if stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.

If you have a BP gun it can still fire even if loaded for years. Again, this is if moisture is kept out of the powder charge.

Note that I don't leave any of my own BP guns loaded. However, if I HAD TO, I would apply some soft wax around the nipple after it was capped, to better seal it against humidity.

4v50 Gary
December 25, 2002, 01:22 PM
Shelf life? It's good as long as it's dry. Unlike modern nitrocellulose propellants, there's no fancy smancy chemicals that decompose and lose its virility. Black powder is forever! So, even if it's been sitting in a revolver, so long as it's dry and the caps are still good and the metal is in good condition, you can shoot it. Someone had an old flintlock with a Remington barrel and he brought it into the factory at Illion. Family heirloom gun that's been left loaded for over a century and a half. They examined it and their suggestion to him was "shoot it." The story was told to me at the factory when I was taking their armorer's course.

Disposal, if I'm in your neighborhood, I'll dispose of it. One shot at a time from my gun. :D

December 25, 2002, 01:24 PM
Thanks for the info guys.

December 25, 2002, 04:40 PM
I wouldn't leave a BP gun loaded...If not sealed absolutely tight it could l collect moisture..and not fire thus causing a problem in removing the projectile. and worst case can cause rust in your gun..

It can also lead to accidental discharge if for some reason someone else becomes in possession of the firearm..

Just not good practice....

December 25, 2002, 05:26 PM
When I went in the Army in 1970, I left a loaded cap and ball revolver locked in my gun box. I intended to empty it before deploying overseas but never got around to doing so. Three years later it fired all 5 chambers with no problems at all. There are a lot of stories about BP guns being found loaded after decades, even centuries, that still go bang when fired. Black powder will last longer than you will, given only a reasonable storage situation.

Don in Ohio

December 25, 2002, 07:19 PM
The main ingredient of black powder is an excellent fertilizer and extremely high in nitrogen. The other stuff isn't water soluble, but won't hurt anything. Water it in well if you can resist touching it off. :D

December 26, 2002, 02:08 AM
Yeah, I've thought about burning it off, but I guess I'll just have to find someway to use it as intended. Maybe a nice 1851 Colt.

December 26, 2002, 01:21 PM
In South Africa, I had the chance to fire a couple of original Lee-Metford black-powder cartridges, made (IIRC) in the 1880's. Some of them didn't fire because the primers were dud, but those that did work went off with a perfectly satisfactory bang. We extracted the bullets from those rounds with dud primers, and inspected the powder, which looked OK: so we loaded the powder into a modern case with modern primer, re-inserted the bullet, and they all went off just fine too. So, BP more than a century old, having gone through who-knows-what in the way of storage, still worked as intended...

December 27, 2002, 09:59 PM
Red can, looks like an oversize hip flask, with a July 1924 date on the label. I tried 65 grains of the stuff behind a 405gr cast bullet in my .45-70. Worked just fine. Actually, it seemed to burn better than my current batch of FFFg stuff from Goex.

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