Storing Black Powder--Critique My Plan


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Cosmoline
April 4, 2008, 03:42 PM
I'm getting into smokey powder and I want to set up a very safe place to keep the powder. My plan based on what I know about the stuff is to keep it in a wooden crate in a bed of clay kitty litter. Temps should be pretty stable as it will be in the mud room. It won't get overheated as this is Alaska. My main concern is if it goes off it won't burn the place down, thus the clay. And AFAIK clay and wood generate no static sparks. The clay should also help wick moisture off. And no I don't have a cat right now so there should be no danger of exploding feline ;-)

It will be two rooms and many yards away from the nearest combustion source or smokeless powder. I'm also thinking of putting a wool blanket on the crate to further reduce fire dangers, since wool isn't sparky and resists burning.

Sound OK?

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scrat
April 4, 2008, 03:46 PM
Sounds good. a little more than most of us. I store mine in my gun safe bottom shelf. The safe is lined and So temperature stays consistant. then they are on carpeted pad. The safe has a ground strap on the side of it. So it suites me fine.

sundance44s
April 4, 2008, 03:49 PM
I keep mine a ways from the house , in my hay barn in a wooden lock box..it`s bone dry ..and I feel better in case of a fire , the house won`t get damage from the explosion...I hear a one lb can is equal to about a half a stick of TNT... and I buy by the 25 lb case ...I do keep one lb in my reloading room ,in a wooden box .

zxcvbob
April 4, 2008, 04:09 PM
It sounds OK to me.

My main concern is if it goes off it won't burn the place down

If it "goes", it will burn the place down no matter what you do. Perhaps store all but a half a pound or so in an outbuilding?

Harve Curry
April 4, 2008, 04:27 PM
Clay and kitty litter absorb moisture, would that be good for your powder?

I keep mine in a inop refridgerator, the inside is mostly plastics.

JCT
April 4, 2008, 04:45 PM
I hear a one lb can is equal to about a half a stick of TNT

not even close. BP can do some damage due to the expanding gases, but it's not technically and explosive ( although it's now classified as one ). It's a propellant. If you can ever spare some powder, light a whole pound in open air, it'll only burn. You need close to 500 lbs for it to self confine and "Explode" . A can of BP will explode, but it's got nowhere near the same energy as TNT. TNT is more powerful than dynamite, Dynamite is more powerful than flash powders and Flash is far more powerful than BP.
I store my powder in a Type 4 powder magazine, simple wood lined steel lock box with wheels.

Cosmoline
April 4, 2008, 05:02 PM
I'm not talking large amounts here, just a can or two.

mykeal
April 5, 2008, 06:13 AM
JCT has the right idea here. A plain wood box storage of bp is not a good idea: bare wood turns to splinters, the worst kind of shrapnel you can imagine. It's great for static protection but metal can be grounded to provide the same level of safety, and a properly made metal box will simply come apart at the seams instead of fragmenting into metal shards. A plain wood box is going to splinter no matter what. Take JCT's advice: a metal box with frangible seams lined with separately installed wood panels. The wheels (if really necessary, but I don't like wheels on magazines in general...) should be rubber.

Gewehr98
April 5, 2008, 01:35 PM
I store my BP the same way I store my smokeless, in a surplus small flammables locker designed to relieve overpressure from within. The cans of BP and smokeless are designed to open at their seams to prevent explosions, and have been for quite some time.

arcticap
April 5, 2008, 03:29 PM
Why not just store it in a closet?
It would be like storing it in a big lock box and the powder wouldn't be exposed to much if any fire hazard. Any fire would probably spread to the closet more slowly (or last) because of the door & walls. People would most likely be out of the house by then anyway, and the closet would act as a containment if there's any concern about additional risks.

mykeal
April 5, 2008, 04:18 PM
"...powder wouldn't be exposed to much..."
"...fire would probably spread to the closet more slowly ..."
"...People would most likely be out of the house by then..."

Not disagreeing with you, but I'd rather plan for disaster based on certainties than maybes, possibilities and probablys. If you make the assumption that the powder will be exposed to fire, that it will spread quickly and that people will not have escaped before the powder goes off, and then design for that to happen, then you're better off if it happens regardless of how fast, etc.

"...the closet would act as a containment..."

That one I do disagree with. I can assure you that if you tell any firefighters that come to your house that, it's ok, the closet the powder is stored in will act as containment, they won't go in the house. And they shouldn't.

Macmac
April 5, 2008, 04:21 PM
Since when isn't good wool sparkey? In cold and dry my 4 point blankets can shower tiny sparks all over the place.. I wear a lot of wool as well, like pants in winter here in NH in these little mountains, wool shirts, and a Balmora Scottish war bonnet.. I can wear wool socks and shirts right next to my skin and do so in the cold. We can get -50 here, sort of warm for Ak I guess, but just the same that is a tad chilley to me.

At the French and Indian War events I attend the cannon crews use a wooden box lined with copper. I understand copper is a conductor, perhaps this grounds the box? In the past 28 years I have been doing this I have never seen or heard of a box like this going boom..

I might not be correct, but I think the copper is more to prevent moisture in the air from getting to the powder than any other reason. Inside these boxes is cans of powder, and pre made charges wrapped in tin foil. The charges in the tin foil are ready to use in the big guns, some as large as 6 pounders.

The one thing I am sure of is, copper can't be struck by any other metals or stones to create a spark. All the tools I see in use on cannon have copper parts, if they deal with measuring and loading these guns. The worm is one of the few that are steel, but it can't stick a spark on a bronze gun, however I am not so sure if that steel can cause a spark in a cast iron gun, but I doubt it, unless sand gets in the bore from a wet mop, or some other freak way.

We play in the weather of the day and in upstate NY that usually means rain.

In cans any box will do. I have maybe 6 cans now in a plastic tool box in the cellar, I have had these a long time and even stored them in places less secure in terms of heat.

I also keep powder in powder horns, and have these hanging on the wall, in a room where there is a gas heater, oil lamps I use every day, and I smoke.

Not once as there been any problem. I have left powder horns in cars out in the sun that got well over 140 degrees inside, and not once has there been any problem.

Cosmoline
April 5, 2008, 04:33 PM
I like the copper lining idea, though I'm not planning on storing bulk. Old methods are probably the best methods.

A plain wood box storage of bp is not a good idea: bare wood turns to splinters, the worst kind of shrapnel you can imagine.

I can imagine much worse. Steel or iron for example. I'd go with plastic but it most certainly has a static charge to it, esp. up here. I can run my arm next to a plastic tote and my hairs stand up!! I've never seen cedar do that, so I'll stick with wood with copper fittings. I'll start scrounging for a suitable box.

Good point on the wool.

I know folks who've had tragic spontaneous BP ignition so I'm a little wary of the stuff. It only takes one time to cause real trouble. I'm certainly not keeping it next to the smokeless ammo.

scrat
April 5, 2008, 04:40 PM
you guys are all wrong Just put it on top of your stove, or in a window in the direct sunlight. Thats the way to store powder the real mans way.

hahahahahahah :)

arcticap
April 5, 2008, 09:37 PM
Here you go, it's only $279 plus shipping:


Lockable Powder Storage Container
Keep your black powder and smokeless powder secure and safe at home or cabin. Lockable Powder Storage Container meets or exceeds BATF regulations and specifications for a Type 4 indoor portable magazine. Large enough to hold up to 50 one-pound cans of powder.

Optional Wheels let you easily move the container.

http://www.cabelas.com/spodw-1/0012533.shtml

http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/content/Pod/01/25/33/p012533sq01.jpg

scrat
April 5, 2008, 09:39 PM
hey thats actually pretty good

zxcvbob
April 5, 2008, 09:57 PM
Construction of Type 4 Magazines:
http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2002/aprqtr/pdf/27cfr55.210.pdf

Notice the part about "No indoor magazine is to be located in a residence or dwelling."

Basically it's a strong box, constructed of non-sparking materials, with two 5-tumbler padlocks, and stored in an outbuilding.

owlhoot
April 6, 2008, 07:49 PM
Okay, I'm guilty of being too careless here. I have 25-30 cans of the stuff sitting on a shelf right next to maybe 10-15 cans of smokeless in the garage where I reload. If it doesn't blow tonight, I'll move that stuff to an out building in the morning.

JCT
April 7, 2008, 02:08 AM
I bought mine from here: $100 less than cabelas, probably the same thing. Comes with wheels and 2 keys. Well made too.
http://www.mainepowderhouse.com/catalog_safe.php

Gaucho Gringo
April 7, 2008, 09:18 PM
I store my Triple 7 in an old wooden DuPont dynamite box that my grandfather gave me about 50 years ago. The box looks like new. It has a few warnings on the side of the box and is always good for laughs the first time I spring it on some unsuspecting soul. I always say "well, it's time to bring out the heavy duty stuff". Usually their eyes get real real big and they start stammering. I love it.

Calibre44
April 10, 2008, 07:17 AM
Macmac wrote: At the French and Indian War events I attend the cannon crews use a wooden box lined with copper. I understand copper is a conductor, perhaps this grounds the box? In the past 28 years I have been doing this I have never seen or heard of a box like this going boom..


You may be interested to know that copper was commonly used in the storage of BP.

HMS Victory used it to line the walls of the Grand Magazine, which was the main gunpowder storage area at the bow of the ship below the waterline. This was done for 3 reasons: i) copper, as a soft metal, it reduced the chance of dangerous sparks, ii) being waterproof the copper helped to keep the powder dry. and iii) perhaps most surprisingly, the main reason for the copper was to prevent the rats getting into the magazine. If they were allowed to get in they would become covered in gunpowder and then spread the powder all over the ship!

The Grand magazine could hold up to 35 tons of gunpowder. At the Battle of Trafalgar the Victory used 71/2 tons of gunpowder!

As an aside you may be interested to know that HMS Victory is the only surviving warship that fought in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic wars. It was last damaged in hostilities during WWII when a German bomb exploded next to it and damaged its keel.

HUnter58
April 10, 2008, 08:32 AM
Along with the BATF requirements, there are local requirements which is often over looked. Check you state fire code regulations in regards to powder/explosive storage requirements. Laws vary on amounts stored, but should an fire or other occur within a residental dwelling, some insurance companies will not payout if is was determined that there was improper storeage and it contributed to the damage of the building.

mykeal
April 10, 2008, 11:35 AM
In some states (Michigan is one I know about) explosive storage requirements are covered in construction codes, since construction crews occasionally had to use explosives in excavations and stored them both on the job site and in their material storage areas.

Macmac
April 10, 2008, 04:00 PM
Calibre44 , That's interesting. I knew powder magazines were made of copper, figuring is is just about impossible to get spark off copper, and it resists corrosion, and is water proof if soldered well when made.

I didn't know about the rats, but if makes perfect sence. I have seen these magazines on early war ships in person and in books, and so am ammused by the candle locker and the isenglass (mica) windows into the magazine, so cabin boys and powder moneys could see a little bit.

A mild non tool steel liner would work as well, and that is based on the cans it comes in. Just touch a magnet to the std Goex can to see it is steel.

The only steels I know of that will spark easy are hi carbon steels that have been heat treated.

I know someone will tell me mild steels spark on a powered wheel, but my answer to that is don't grind you powder cans on a stone wheel when there is powder, unless you are testing youself out for the gene pool.

The ways these things work to me, is that if it worked well 300 years ago what ever it was will still work well now.

I am not one to try modern smokless in a gun maked BP only. I am not one to reinvent the wheel.

Modens law makers don't know how to change a flat tire, so what is it about them making rules on powder storage that has any meaning?

Some times my take is that these fools make law, and rules hoping it will screw up and they will get some business out it.

There is always another fool who stand exactly where you hoist a proverbial piano, looking up.

Voodoochile
April 10, 2008, 05:44 PM
What I have is:

2 Plastic fishing boxes loaded with pre loaded tubes "48 rounds each" of FFFG & .457 Ball, 60 #11 "or #10" caps & wads which I take with me when I go the the range, once I shoot up my 96 rounds I'm done for the day.. :D
1 Plastic Fishing box loaded with pre loaded tubes "36 rounds" of FFG & .530 ball, 50 Musket caps & pre cut patches I take with me to the range for my .54 Hawken.

Ammo Safe in my basement.
1Lb. of FFFG. till gone.
1Lb. of FFG. till gone.
4 tins of #11 caps.
2 tins of #10 caps.
2 Tins of Musket caps.
300 .457 Ball.
100 .530 Ball.
1 box of 777 50gr. pellets.
100 .430 XTP's & sabots for my inline.
Other assorted ammunition for 5 cartridge firearms.

Ammo Safe in basement is 5'X16"X21" fire proof to 1.5 hours.

Powder & reloading box in shed out back.
Instead of giving details I keep about 5-8Lbs of black powder in there along with other reloading supplies, "no bullets, primers or casings."

Powder box is 4'X2'X3' lined with copper interior, 2 layers of sheet rock & a 10Ga. outer Steel Shell, friend of mine made it for me about 15 years ago & even though it is heavy as all get out being on the floor of my shed where I do all my work "ammo wise" it is 3 yards away from the house so I think I'm OK.

Smoke Rizen
April 12, 2008, 01:15 PM
I store between 10, and 1 lb. in the bottom draw of an old metal file cabinet. Above it are all my fly fishing reels. The cabinet sits on the concrete floor of my tack room-reloading room-fly tieing room-gun safe room. This is in a 25X25 section of a 50' metal building which sits 20' from the main house. I also have a mixture of up to 40 lb. of smokeless on the shelf above my reloading bench. I do keep the 5-10 thousand primers on a shelf on the other end of the bench for safety. I use a wood burning stove to heat the place as it get's cold here in Colorado. Oh yeah, the other half of this barn is used for hay storage.
Probably no one here will want to visit me soon, but I do take one important precaution, the volunteer fire dept. has a "do not attempt to fight fire" order on the structure

Gewehr98
April 13, 2008, 11:21 PM
I know folks who've had tragic spontaneous BP ignition so I'm a little wary of the stuff. It only takes one time to cause real trouble. I'm certainly not keeping it next to the smokeless ammo.

I'd be very curious to hear names, dates, places, and specifics of said spontaneous ignition examples mentioned above. I'll farm them out to my fellow BPCR shooters both here and when I go to the Quigley Shoots again this coming June.

In the meantime, I'll install a webcam and LED light to monitor my cans of Goex Cartridge sitting next to all my cans of smokeless in my flam locker. Something's bound to happen... :scrutiny:

Cosmoline
April 13, 2008, 11:27 PM
I'd be very curious to hear names, dates, places, and specifics of said spontaneous ignition examples mentioned above.

Friend of my dad had his house burned down because of poorly stored BP. I don't know all the details, but IIRC it had to do with BP stored in a shop with an ignition sources nearby. My main concern here is static electricity, since we get plenty of it in the cold dry air.

JCT
April 14, 2008, 02:08 AM
There's nothing spontaneous when it comes to BP ignition....It's one of the most stable propellents/explosives ever made. It won't degrade if stored properly. It doesn't become more or less sensitive with age. It's not shock, impact or friction sensitive.
Cool dry storage away from ignition sources is all that's needed.

Gewehr98
April 14, 2008, 12:30 PM
"Ignition source nearby."

I'll wager if one drilled more into that angle, the rest of the story would surface.

About the only way to get real BP to light off with an electric spark is inside a CVA Electra rifle.

Tests were done here to try igniting the stuff with electric arcs of a lower voltage, a mere 40K volts:

http://www.ctmuzzleloaders.com/ctml_experiments/sparks/sparks.html

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