Toxicity of Black Powder Residue/Smoke?


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Cosmoline
September 15, 2008, 12:48 PM
I've noticed that black powder shooting is rather more hands-on than smokeless. And sometimes even teeth-on and lips-on. I end up with soot all over after a day of shooting the smoke poles. Some of it from blowing down barrels and the rest I'm not sure. As far as I know this stuff is all-natural. I'm using real black powder and lubricants made of nothing worse than bee's wax and other stuff. But is there anything I need to be worried about?

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Voodoochile
September 15, 2008, 02:09 PM
Just Lead poisioning if'n ya chew on one of them Balls. ;)

Just kidding, you should be fine being that you are using the real stuff with other natural ingredients.

scrat
September 15, 2008, 02:26 PM
best advice wear an old shirt. Then if you blow down the barrel of a muzzleloader. cup the mouth with you hand so you dont put your mouth over it. REmember to take a breath first

sundance44s
September 15, 2008, 02:30 PM
Handle with care it`s highly addictive . Send me all you have I`m a pro at disposing of the nasty stuff .

scrat
September 15, 2008, 02:33 PM
Yep and i will meet sundance to help of this disposal

bigbadgun
September 15, 2008, 06:12 PM
* WARNING*
The Surgeon General as determined that black powder is highly addictive.
The only Authorized Agent for disposal of Black Powder is BIGBADGUN.
Please send all blackpowder to this AUTHORIZED AGENT for proper disposal immediatly.:what:

mtngunr
September 15, 2008, 06:53 PM
Apparently, not much hazard at all, aside from explosion/fire hazard....and, of course, lead exposure...
http://www.ocsresponds.com/ref/msds/msds-bp.pdf

4v50 Gary
September 15, 2008, 06:56 PM
Sulphur won't kill you. They used to use sulphur powder in WW II to prevent infections. Nitrates won't kill you either. It's used in treating virtually all preserved meats that we wolf down, ahem, consume. Charcoal is carbon and isn't harmful. Otherwise, why would man have invented fire anyway?

Now, the most dangerous thing (besides lead exposure) is going broke from shooting so much.

Elbert P . Suggins
September 16, 2008, 09:36 AM
I didn't want to be reminded of this little incident but I guess the time has come. About two years ago I went on a one day fly-fishing trip up the Selway River. It has always been tradition on these annual trips at about midday to sit down and enjoy a cool drink of water out of a canvass water-bag and an onion-butter sandwich. Well my wife had been visiting and was gone for a few days and my daughter-in-law ask if she could prepare my lunch. I told her where the onions and butter were and left it at that. The previous day I had put my tube of yellow Bore Butter in the frig because it had sat in my dash and got hot. She mistook it for the edible kind and prepared my sandwich with that. The stout onions covered up the BoreButter taste thru half that damn sandwich. When you are sixty miles from home and have no toilet paper and only a Cabelas catalogue it makes for a very long, uncomfortable day. So, as far as my experience goes, Bore Butter is the only component in BP shooting that might cause ill effects.

hso
September 16, 2008, 09:54 AM
Cosmo,

BP is pretty innocuous from a toxicity standpoint. The lead would be the greatest concern if you shot a lot.

DrLaw
September 16, 2008, 10:54 AM
I WAS going to come up with something stupid to say here as 'evidence' that black powder has not messed with my mind, but I bow to the master, Mr. Suggins, you have the crown! :D

The Doc is out now. :cool:

Voodoochile
September 16, 2008, 11:18 AM
Well my hat is off to you Mr. Suggins because you suffered long & hard so the rest of us will not have to endure such a fate. :D

sundance44s
September 16, 2008, 11:19 AM
Bet that kept his bore from fouling ...lol

mykeal
September 16, 2008, 11:32 AM
Bet that kept his bore from fouling ...lol

Oh, my. Gives a whole new meaning to 'wiping between shots.'

Carl N. Brown
September 16, 2008, 11:43 AM
The components of gunpowder include a combination of potassium nitrate (saltpeter KNO3) sulfur (S) and charcoal carbon (C) sometimes dusted with graphite (another form of carbon). Saltpeter (KNO3) sulfur and charcoal have all been used for medicinal purposes, so the component ingredients are not a major health hazard, short of kaboom.

What are the exact results of combustion of gunpowder, the residue and smoke?

hso
September 16, 2008, 02:20 PM
Potassium Carbonate and Potassium Sulfide are the non-gaseous combustion products of "black powder". They too are relatively innocuous.

mec
September 16, 2008, 04:21 PM
There was a legend that feeding a dog gunpowder would make him mean.
Probably just P1$$ed him off.

Omnivore
September 16, 2008, 05:00 PM
Lead from handling the ball, and also from the percussion caps. I just try not to breath much of the smoke because of the lead compounds in it from the caps. Same goes for smokeless. That's why we're instructed to wash our hands before eating-- your hands get dusted with residue which includes some small amount of lead from the primers. Some lead-free primers are being used for indoor ranges, along with lead-free bullets, or at least a solid copper-based lead core bullet.

A friend of mine who shoots a LOT has had his blood lead level tested, and it comes in below average concentrations for humans. I tend not to worry much, other than taking a few obvious precautions.

arcticap
September 16, 2008, 05:53 PM
Maybe someone will come out with a new air freshener scent someday named "Ellie Mae's Essence of Black Powder".
And if the scent ever catches on with the ladies, then next they can create a similar perfume or cologne.
I'm surprised that no one has invented it already! :D

Son of Sam
September 16, 2008, 06:27 PM
There was a legend that feeding a dog gunpowder would make him mean.

I've heard that too. Probably due to the KNO3 being an early preservative. It may make him mad (insane) if enough is consumed over a short period of time, the KNO3 preserving his brain while he's still using it. :eek:

bigbadgun
September 16, 2008, 06:35 PM
Bet that kept his bore from fouling ...lol
ROFLMAO
Oh, my. Gives a whole new meaning to 'wiping between shots.'
I had to get a rag and wipe the screen off I just blew beer all over the damn place.
The lesson is never put bore butter in the fridge.

KiltedClaymore
September 16, 2008, 06:45 PM
wash your hands REALLY WELL before touching your face, nose, mouth, drink, or food. that was one of the absolute cardinal rules at the muzzle loading range i worked at two summers ago. the lead dust/residue was of greatest concern/risk to us (the employees) health. of course, the range i was working for was located at a summer camp, so we were doing all the powder measuring, lead handling, loading, and priming for hours and hours on end for hundreds of kids (who didn't quite understand how much work goes into loading a .50 Caliber Hawkens, and as a result, just didnt take their time aiming). our hands would be blacker than onyx at the end of the workday. im sure you dont plan to do that much blackpowder every day for weeks. but still, WASH YOUR HANDS

mec
September 16, 2008, 06:55 PM
Early in the history of gunpowder, the sulphur smell was associated with the Devil and his environs. When somebody had occasion to "maketh of his Asse a thrompet." it was thought that it was Satan's little step children rushing out of his digestive track.
This is probably the reason that demons (galenadryads??} were thought to sit on the lead projectiles and cause them to go astray unless there was rifling in the barrel that would cause the ball to spin and throw off the demon. Arrows by contrast, were pretty accurate because angels road on them.

Martin Luther had a different view on the subject. He had a life-long problem with constipation and ruminated frequently on the workings of his lower alimentary system. He thought flatulence was GOOD. " With but a single f--t, I can drive the Evil One from my presence!" The Evil One, it is understood, was Mephestopheles and not the family dog.
This was about the time it became alright to shoot Christians with culveryn and gonnes.

scrat
September 16, 2008, 08:51 PM
Quote:
Bet that kept his bore from fouling ...lol
Oh, my. Gives a whole new meaning to 'wiping between shots.'

Oh my gosh im still laughing my head off. oh my oh my

Cosmoline
September 16, 2008, 11:00 PM
Mec, what's your source on those myths? I've never heard that before and I'd love to find out more. I've heard of angels on the head of a pin but not on arrows. Certainly not on any I shot.

1858rem
September 16, 2008, 11:03 PM
hey mec! where did you see that quote about the demons riding bullets:evil:? i just got done reading a book that went over that, it was pretty funny the first time that i read it:D, i think it was called -the great guns-..... not certain though:scrutiny:, spent more time readin the book than the title lol

mtngunr
September 16, 2008, 11:08 PM
Luther freely admitted he received his greatest inspirations while on the privy, and also had an anatomically unlikely wish regarding anal pores and de' debbil.

4v50 Gary
September 17, 2008, 01:08 AM
articap said: Maybe someone will come out with a new air freshener scent someday named "Ellie Mae's Essence of Black Powder".
And if the scent ever catches on with the ladies, then next they can create a similar perfume or cologne.
I'm surprised that no one has invented it already!

It's called sulphur. I doubt if it would attrach men other than those of us who go to rendezvous! ;)

On the demons riding bullets, I've read that too. Charles Trench may have mentioned it in his book on Marksmanship. Has anyone disproved that there are indeed demons on bullets and is that why the conical bullet was adopted over the round ball?

FSCJedi
September 17, 2008, 05:39 AM
I love this kind of legend and lore regarding angels and demons and whatnot. I'd love to find out more, as well, about demons and bullets and rifling (and how they all fit together) and angels and arrows.

mykeal
September 17, 2008, 07:17 AM
I can't recall a specific reference, but the angels on arrows is ancient lore, Celtic or perhaps even Roman. I don't believe they were originally 'angels', but rather 'friendly spirits'. I recall reading about that while researching some family history in Scotland years ago.

mec
September 17, 2008, 10:07 AM
what's your source on those myths

I don't remember. I read the thing about the demons sitting on the ball and the angel on the arrows decades ago. It sounds like good midevel epistemology.
Pretty much the same thing with Martin Luther's flatulance. A related quote from Luther when he was an up and comming catholic cleric and highly popular with the Vatican was, " Were I to (flatulence), they would hear it in Rome!" In his pictures, he really does looks like he has been chowing down on knockwurst and is totally constipated but all of this could have been agit-prop out of the Vatican because they didn't like him.

DavidVanVorous
September 17, 2008, 12:44 PM
Sulphur won't kill you. They used to use sulphur powder in WW II to prevent infections.

A nit picker here... :D
Not exactly sulphur powder rather sulpha which is the alternative to pennicillin for folks allergic to same... ;)
Link to a little WW2 medical history...
http://home.att.net/~steinert/wwii.htm

That said, the catch with all MSDS info and dosages mentioned is that its a high concentration exposure over time depending on what the material is. I'd be more leary of the lead from handling the slugs than the air diluted combustion byproducts from BP or the minute lead issue from lead styphanate used in caps.

D.

mec
September 17, 2008, 02:40 PM
and then again, people rub sulphur all over themselves and their dogs to get rid of tics.

arcticap
September 17, 2008, 07:04 PM
Toxicity of Black Powder Residue/Smoke?

I've noticed that black powder shooting is rather more hands-on than smokeless. And sometimes even teeth-on and lips-on. I end up with soot all over after a day of shooting the smoke poles. Some of it from blowing down barrels and the rest I'm not sure. As far as I know this stuff is all-natural. I'm using real black powder and lubricants made of nothing worse than bee's wax and other stuff. But is there anything I need to be worried about?

The OP is not asking about the toxicity of the inert unburned ingedients of BP as much as the by-products, residues and smoke that's formed after it has been burned.
I'm not ready to admit that there aren't any toxins contained in the smoke or by-products that are released into the proximity of the air and inhaled each time a shot is fired.
We're not only discussing BP itself, but also the similar unique by-products formed by the substitute powders as well.
Looking up nitrosamines, it's somewhat clear that saltpeter is a toxic nitrate.
There are also other harmful chemicals arising from acids, chlorines and hydrocarbons that may or may not be formed or emitted during shooting.
While I know absolutely nothing about them at all, I'm not ready to admit that breathing in unnatural amounts of them over a long period of time are safe.
I really wouldn't want to breath in too much BP cannon smoke over a period of many years.
And this is from a person who doesn't think that 2nd hand cigarette smoke is much of anything to be concerned about.
While BP & the other related propellants smoke are probably relatively risk free to the casual shooter, that doesn't mean that they are not toxic and hazardous to some.
If deafness caused by shooting cannons and muzzle loaders was any indication of the potential toxicity of BP smoke, then clearly some folks can be impacted by excessively shooting unprotected. Even though we may not be aware of it, that doesn't mean that some degree of toxicity isn't possible since not all toxic agents have been identified yet.
Let's not prematurely proclaim that just because the pure ingredients seem "harmless", that the combustion by-products are also harmless.

.....Approximately 86 percent of the nitrate produced in the United States is used for fertilizer, though the chemicals have other uses. Potassium nitrate (KNO 3), also known as saltpeter, is the key ingredient in gunpowder...... Saltpeter is formed naturally in warm climates by bacteria decomposing accumulations of excreta and animal refuse. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when nitrates are present in quantities in excess of ten milligrams per liter, the water supply can pose a potentially fatal threat to infants under six months and to young and pregnant animals

http://www.answers.com/topic/nitrate

I prefer shooting the subsitute powders and the way that I look at it is that the less obnoxious smoke that one inhales the better.
After all, the etymology of the word toxic is:

ETYMOLOGY:
Late Latin toxicus, from Latin toxicum, poison, from Greek toxikon, poison for arrows, poison, from neuter of toxikos, of a bow, from toxon, bow, from Old Persian *taxa-, an arrow

Maybe the archer's bow isn't harmful, but the flying arrows from one can be.

Cosmoline
September 17, 2008, 07:17 PM
Isn't it the niTRITES that are the problem, more than the niTRATES? I always get confused about that.

Jim Watson
September 17, 2008, 07:46 PM
Only thing I know of in the smoke or residue that might be unhealthy is the sulfides.

But how does that make the fakes better? Who knows what is in their patented and proprietary formulations and what that might do to you?

KiltedClaymore
September 17, 2008, 08:00 PM
as for harmful chemicals in the smoke, im sure there is carbon monoxide (but dont quote me on that, im making an educated guess) along with other nasty fumes/gasses in that lovely smoke plume.

arcticap
September 17, 2008, 08:07 PM
Isn't it the niTRITES that are the problem, more than the niTRATES? I always get confused about that.


Me too. It may be that one is a potential carcinogen while the other is only potentially toxic.
Actually, I was looking one up by mistake when I really meant to look up dioxin, but the Google search brought me to KNO3. :rolleyes:

The subs simply produce less smoke overall to be exposed too, with less [if any] sulphur, corrosives and acid depending on the brand, I believe.

JNewell
September 17, 2008, 08:15 PM
It's just charcoal, saltpeter and sulphur. You could probably eat large quantities with nothing more than some changes in your lower GI patterns.

There is a serious side effect, though, which you are probably discovering. Exposure to the smoke and burned remains is highly addictive and will cause you to want to shoot BP more, and more, and more...attempts to stop will cause horrible withdrawal symptoms...shakey hands, blurred vision...

Well...

Seriously - the only issue I know of is lead, and that is not a joke at all.

arcticap
September 17, 2008, 08:22 PM
Sulphur from burning coal, oil and gasoline contibutes to acid rain, and the concentration of it in the atmosphere is lower than in the cloud of BP smoke I would think.
But then I hate breathing in wood stove smoke too, especially if someone in my neighborhood is burning pine in their fireplace. :D

1858rem
September 17, 2008, 10:43 PM
bp was actually used as a seasoning way back in the day(very little portion though) kinda like a dash of salt or pepper, not the shake shake shake shake kind, just a pinch. anyhow do not eat bp:barf:, too much kno3 will make your body not work right:uhoh:, i dont know how much it would take, but i wouldnt want to find out either:what: it would not happen accumulatively from exposure to powder or smoke, just if'n ya eat it

mtngunr
September 20, 2008, 12:02 AM
Frankly, I see most of the armchair toxicology theorizing as something that would only happen to folk hypersensitized by mass media to stories of hazards in every mouthful of food and every intaken breath.....if living were that dangerous, we'd all be dead by now.....it's just gunpowder smoke, folks....not a product of modern chemistry with lots of artificial organics or polymers....people have been huffing the smoke for a VERY long time, and in great quantities.....history is quite silent on hoards of former soldiers from quite a few major wars all dying off at unseemly ages.....next thing that'll happen in this thread is someone theorizing it's contributing to global warming.....as for modern stuff, assuming it's better than the known old stuff is just wishful thinking....

Cosmoline
September 20, 2008, 12:12 AM
I'm not worried about being hypersensitive, but like many folks here I work in volume when it comes to firearms. So I've been burning a lot of the stuff and haven't bothered to take many precautions, thinking it's all natural and what not. Better safe than sorry I figure.

Lead can't be too much of a problem with PRB, since the lead never touches the barrel and doesn't get hot enough or fast enough to melt. But apparently there are lead elements and other possible toxins in modern primers and caps, which alone makes it worth while to start using a blow tube.

Pulp
September 20, 2008, 12:44 AM
It's never both,,both,,both,,both,,(slap to head),,bothered me.:)

mtngunr
September 20, 2008, 01:02 AM
I'm not worried about being hypersensitive,

The original query had much merit.....sure, lead styphenate isn't something I'd be wanting to put in my mouth, and I wouldn't bet there's no vaporized lead even from PRB as the heat goes through the weave.....the blow-tube is an excellent idea, and standard shooting precautions such as keep hands away from nose, eyes, mouth, food until after wash-up would probably be wise to apply to black powder shooting....but it's probably much less toxic than many other shooting sports burning more complex chemicals.....however, without stats from long-term health studies, all the rest is sorta, well....sorta.....

DrLaw
September 20, 2008, 12:36 PM
Alas for Little Willy.
For he is no more.
For what he thought was H2O,
Was H2SO4. :neener:

The Doc is out now. :cool:

scrat
September 20, 2008, 01:14 PM
ok black powder unburned is ok. However once burned it gives off a highly amount of Carbon dioxide, Carbon Monoxide. Thus the only cure for getting a high dose of either is fresh air. It does not contain anything toxic in the fumes. That is lethal in small or large doses.

DixieTexian
September 20, 2008, 02:05 PM
Didn't they use gunpowder in a concoction to wake up the drunk sherrif in the movie El Dorado?

KiltedClaymore
September 20, 2008, 03:11 PM
^one of my favorites^


and yes they did. it also included cayenne pepper, hot mustard powder, ipecac, asafoetida, and croton oil.

in real life, that mix would put you on the can for about 2-3 days. with possible risk of death from dehydration due to massive fluid loss caused by the croton oil.

Cosmoline
September 20, 2008, 05:28 PM
I do use the foetid spice in some cooking, but I haven't tried black powder as a spice yet. I could see a pinch adding an appropriate sulphur overtone to the most infernal Texican chillies.

scrat
September 20, 2008, 08:46 PM
ya im not too sure i will be going out adding Goex to my kitchen recipies

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