Powder storage in garage?


January 9, 2008, 10:17 PM
I just got back into reloading after about a 10 year hiatus. The difference this time is I have more money (nicer setup) and a garage to do it in (keeps the wife happy). She's a little leery of keeping powder in the house - is it ok to keep it in the garage? It doesn't have heat or a/c, and here in Nebraska it can get +100 degrees in the summer and below zero in the winter, with a lot of humidity during the hot months. Will powder and primers keep ok in those conditions?

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January 9, 2008, 10:23 PM
Temperature extremes are bad for both powder and primers, but it's not something that you're likely to notice unless you're loading from the same lot of powder over a couple of years. Preferably, your spot for powder should be cool and dry.

January 9, 2008, 10:39 PM
I reload in the garage. I also heat and cool the space when I"m reloading. I keep my powder, primers and completed ammo in an unplugged refrigerator.

I'm sure that this helps moderate the daily temperature/humidity range but doubt very much that it moderates the seasonal range. I guess that a cooler would do something similar.

I also chain and padlock the doors for safety.

PS. I actually plug in the refrigerator where I keep my beer.

Grandpa Shooter
January 10, 2008, 12:15 AM
I have powder and primers which have survived the extremes of AZ desert summers and winters in the mountains. Some of it dates back to 1994. None of mine have gone bad.

January 10, 2008, 12:41 AM
Thanks guys, I think I'll just have to make sure I use the powder up fast enough that it won't degrade :)

I also found 1/4 can each of 4895 and Pyrodex RS that dated from 1996. I don't think I'll try using those.

January 10, 2008, 01:26 AM
I store mine is a ammo can, 50cal for primers, and 20mm for powder. Throw some dessicant in and it works for me in Illinois, Our weather should be similiar to Nebraska. Never noticed a problem keeping supplies in the garage

January 10, 2008, 02:13 AM
when i used to live in eastern s.d. i kept all my components in my non-climate controlled garage year round. never had any troubles w/ my loads. did have plenty of troubles trying to load in the sub-zero weather, which is how our coffee table got 2 holes drilled through it. wife didn't laugh much when she came home from work that night...

the garage set up in eastern s.d. lasted about 5 years. i wouldn't worry about yours at all. it does suck loading late in the afternoon in july, though. and the humidity is actually high enough that you have to pay attention to your scale's zero before each loading session - it will shift significantly from one day to the next.

good luck!

January 10, 2008, 12:47 PM
whats wrong using powder dated 1996. A couple of years ago you could buy surplus ammo ww II era nazie stamped. I've used powder dating from 1970's with no problems and with good results. I don't remember which powder co. but one keeps some powder in a sealed glass bottle in water and periodically tests it, if I rember right it was mfg. in the 1890/1900's and still tests up to par.

January 10, 2008, 01:43 PM
I don't remember which powder co. but one keeps some powder in a sealed glass bottle in water and periodically tests it, if I rember right it was mfg. in the 1890/1900's and still tests up to par.

That company is Hercules, now Alliant. The powder is either Unique or Bullseye; I'm pretty sure it is Unique.


January 10, 2008, 01:58 PM
Always lots of stories of old powders shooting just fine, but I (read my wife) am conservative, and think you are on the right track with not purchasing more than you can use in a reasonable amount of time.

BTW, you should have heard my wife go through the roof when my youngest son and I were discussing how much of the house would be destroyed if both my reloading equipment and his RC car nitro/methane, went up at the same time. :what:

January 10, 2008, 02:35 PM
I agree with only buying enough powder that you can use at one time. In my case, I try to buy the right amount of powder for my lifetime.... That's ordering powder in 32 pound cases, so the lot will be consistant throughout the whole batch.

You never, never talk about your house skyrocketing from your gunpowder in front of your wife. That's a rule, and shouldn't be broken, in this case.

The other alternative is getting your wife interested in shooting a lot. Then the conversations tend to run in the other direction. My wife recently asked me if we had enough powder to get us through our shooting this year? Of course, the answer was "no"...........

Hope this helps.


January 10, 2008, 04:22 PM
That company is Hercules, now Alliant. The powder is either Unique or Bullseye; I'm pretty sure it is Unique.

I called Hercules years ago on this and was told it was an out of production powder "Lightning"

The Hercules representative told me that each year they would take a measured dipper of wet powder from the tank. The powder was dried, loaded in something, and fired. I was told that the characteristics of the powder had not changed. The powder was close to being a 100 years old.

January 10, 2008, 07:59 PM
Some of the best 6.5 ammo I've shot was mfg in Sweden in 1924. Still shooting some 8mm from 1938. Who knows how this stuff was stored over the years? I keep primers in the house which is air conditioned. Powder in my shop which is non-conditioned. Never any problems.

January 10, 2008, 11:42 PM
I have purchased and shot Tallons in my BMG that dated back 20 years, or more. They all shoot the same... with the usual Tallon accuracy.

Keep your powder dry, and your ok. There's a reason they seal the primers on military brass.

For my reloads, I keep powder and primers inside. But I live in a 'dry' state that doesn't have much humidity. Not sure what that would do to an open powder jug.

January 11, 2008, 11:21 AM
The powder should be OK if it is kept in the original container. Also, old powders will degrade over time, but I think you would notice the change. They will start to break down, and the powder will lose its color and the kernels will break down and you will notice it getting dusty. Also, pay attention to the smell of those older powders. As they break down they will have an acrid smell to them. Hope that helps.
As for the cold and heat, you should be OK. I am in OKlahoma, and have had no problems. So if you find a deal, why not stock up. Within reason.

good shooting

Grandpa Shooter
January 11, 2008, 12:04 PM
Reloader Fred is right again. If you get the skeptics involved your requirement for components goes up greatly. I buy to reload for five shooters. That puts the burden for reloading on me:D, but hey I will just have to buck up and get to it.

January 11, 2008, 01:09 PM
I worked for 20 some years in engineering for an aerospace ordnance company that specialized in pyrotechnic devices for military aircraft and space vehicles. Some of these devices used common reloading powders such as Bullseye or Unique as gas generants for piston driven, single use devices, for instance; pin pullers and latch operators in escape or ordnance arming systems. Black powder, used for igniters, was stored alongside the smokeless.
Commonly these devices had a 5 year operational (on aircraft) or 10 year shelf life after which these would be returned to us for refurbishment or disposal. Upon return, we would perform “lot verification” tests on approximately 10% by firing these at the extremes of their operational environment (normally -60f to +140f IIRC) and this data compared to the data collected when the devices were originally qualified. Then, to refurbish the remainder, the original lot of propellant was used if possible as a replacement. Using the original propellant lot allowed us to use a smaller acceptance test group and abbreviated test regimen-PROVIDED: no statistically significant difference in performance was exhibited in any of our test samples; original, return or refurbished.
I know of no case where we witnessed a change in performance due to propellant degradation. When deployed, these devices (and aircraft) were subject to conditions that ranged from the Sandbox to Siberia. Our replacement propellant was stored in un-insulated steel magazines about the size of a conex box or semi trailer, painted dark red. These were placed on the back of the company property here on the Colorado prairie. Not an extreme environment but -10o f to -20o f in the winter and 90of to 100of in the summer. In the summer these magazines were stifling inside. The propellants and black powder that cycled through these extremes for 10-20 years suffered no measured ill effect.
Lastly, anyone storing propellants inside their house might want to check their local fire codes. If you are improperly storing flammables and a firefighter is thereby injured, you will be held responsible AND your insurance company will laugh at your claim.

January 12, 2008, 10:58 AM

Mice can gnaw through plastic powder containers.
The powder will spill out and the solvents in the powder will evaporate.

What does it all mean?
Get the powder up off the floor where the mice can't reach it.

January 12, 2008, 11:01 PM
I've done what I had to do to store powder so far as temperature cycle. Bob Bell did an article a long time ago on the last of a 150lb lot of surplus 4831 that endured summer and winter in his barn in PA until it was all gone.

Cooking oil and hair spray and lots of other common household substances - oily rags anyone? - are as bad or worse than the solid fammables that are gun powder.

On the other hand I've always stored powder in a weak container - an unlatched refrigerator is a great storage place - a strongly latched container is bomb instead of a fire - Fire code will specify a weak side for any powder magazine.

Vertical Resolution
January 15, 2008, 11:41 AM
Don't mind the mice, if they are eating your powder.... just light their tails!

January 15, 2008, 08:48 PM
Alemonkey, you probably have more dangerous, flammable, and/or explosive stuff than smokeless powder in the house. Oven cleaner and drain cleaner are highly caustic. The wife's hairspray is incredibly flammable. And anything in an aerosol can is bad news if it gets caught in a fire.

On a day when the wife is out, go in the backyard and put a small bit of powder on a rock or some concrete. Get a long lighter and set it on fire. You'll see that it burns, it does not explode. (Do so at your own risk, wear safety equipment, don't try this at home, etc. etc.)

I notice you're in Lincoln: Have you tried that indoor range? I think it's called 4 Seasons.

January 15, 2008, 09:04 PM
I'm not really worried about the dangers of keeping powder inside, it's just to appease the wife. I was mainly just wondering about the effects of humidity and temperature extremes on the powder. After reading all the replies I think I'll go ahead and use the old powder I have left over.

strat81 - I've been to that range a few times. It's just a few blocks from my house. It's a pretty decent place, but it's handgun only except for one 25 yard rifle lane. I joined the Izaak Walton league, though, so that's where I'll probably go now.

January 16, 2008, 01:44 AM
My ex-wife was from Fremont. They produce evil, evil people there.........


January 16, 2008, 11:35 PM
What about storing your powder and primers for safety?
I have a gun safe that is fire resistent for 30 mins. I have been offered two completely different suggestions:
1. Store them in the safe because I live in the city where the fire dept. is only 2 blocks away
2. Don't store them in the safe because smokeless powder will only burn, not explode. Storing them in a safe will cause an explosion.

And do you store the primers differently than powder?
What do you guys do?

January 17, 2008, 12:07 PM
Read the model Fire Code

I have a gun safe that is fire resistent for 30 mins And just what do folks think is meant by fire resistant? What do folks suppose happens between minutes 29 and 31? The safe makers will tell you what happens inside their safes as the outside temperature rises. Notice that many safes are designed or at least tested and certified for document storage and boil off water from the insulation to keep paper from burning. Boiled off water and high temperatures may lead to rusty firearms with softened metal as the heat ruins the factory heat treatment.

Read the model Fire Code and your local Fire Code. The powder companies used to include copies of the model Fire Code with their data and for all I know still do. In any event copies are readily and freely available. The Hodgden family have occasionally had the pleasure of gathering around the fire as one of their company powder magazines burned - with no injuries and no damage beyond the magazine because they did it right and they will tell you how to do it right.

As I read the code a soft sided storage - blow out panel - is always required. Wood is good for insulation and soft sided construction. I like a picnic cooler with the lid left loose to provide some insulation so as to do what I can to reduce temperature fluctuations in the powder as the outside temperature fluctuates and also so given time the container might be carried or dragged away from the fire.

Notice that kitchen cooking oils and greases and bathroom hairsprays and rubbing alcohol and garage spray paint are all at least as hazardous as the flammable solid called gun powder. I don't risk my life to get any of these out of the fire - I can't imagine dashing into a fire to get a can of Crisco out - even though I have sometimes used Crisco to flux when I'm melting a lot of wheelweights.

Primers should always be stored in the original packaging and as apart from everything else as reasonable convenient. Nothing like putting loose primers in a baby food jar and turning the lid on to create a fragmentation grenade.

In today's world of rising prices and short supplies there is a real tension between stocking up and creating a hazard - best is a detatched building or even a Rubbermaid style detatched storage shed.

January 18, 2008, 12:33 AM
+1 on detached building - if you can. I'm fortunate in that I have a heated/cooled shop in the barn, (actually a 30x40 oversized garage) for my firearms hobby. I'm unfortunate in that I now have more ammunition than room in the shop. Been thinking about getting an old non-operative chest-type freezer for the unheated barn area to store ammunition in. Maybe I should be considering a small refrigerator for primers?

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