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Black Powder and Static

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by scrat, Dec 20, 2008.

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  1. scrat

    scrat Member

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    i keep seeing this come up from time to time. People scared of black powder and static. Same time arguing about electricity and black powder. Then i believe it was mykeal that reminded me of black powder. Black powder needs a heat source. A static charge alone can not ignite it. Now if there was a source of metal that could act as a heat source then the black powder can and will ignite. here is a link to a test done on black powder and static charge. Its a pretty good link everyone should see.
    http://members.dslextreme.com/users/cliffhanger/wardlaw/staticelectricity.htm
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2008
  2. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you Scrat. I made it part of Black Powder Essentials.
     
  3. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    Actually black powder can be ignited by an electric spark, just not the black powder used in firearms. Look into the safety devises at fireworks manufacturing facilities.
     
  4. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    madcratebuilder brings up a good point. The black powder we use in muzzleloading guns is graphite coated (the 'g' in fffg), and it's that highly conductive graphite coating that conducts the electricity through the powder grain without generating heat. Without the conductive properties of the graphite the electricity can heat the more resistive sulfur or nitrate compound crystals enough to cause ignition.
     
  5. Sagetown

    Sagetown Member

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    :D Thanks scrat; very informative.

    Sage
     
  6. Calibre44

    Calibre44 Member

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    With regard to storing BP safely you may interested in the following:

    HMS Victory (launched 1765) used copper 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 tons of gunpowder!
     
  7. DuncanSA

    DuncanSA Member

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    OK - I've also seen the demo of sparks going around the BP grains. How far are you prepared to risk your life on the assumption that the powder you use is static proof?
    I am sure that the guys who make their own would have second thoughts here.

    The theory is probably true, but I am going to continue using my copper funnels etc when handling BP. Why take chances?
     
  8. 06

    06 Member

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    What is the difference between a static spark, primers spark, or flint other than intensity. They all will ignite flamable materials. wc
     
  9. scrat

    scrat Member

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    a static spark does not have enough heat. a primer flash is a very high temperature flash of heat. Now im not the worlds imformative person on static and black powder. I know though i would rather use brass than copper. As copper is the base metal used in spark plugs. I know its a lot harder to have anykind of spark with brass opposed to copper.
     
  10. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Absolutely. There is no good reason to.

    They are very, very different. Static electricity is electrical energy. By itself it contains no heat energy. In order to produce heat it must pass through a resistive element; the greater the resistance, the more heat is produced. A flint struck against iron or steel chips off a tiny piece of metal; the friction energy causes the metal to heat up and become hot, glowing metal. It contains heat and light energy and no electrical energy.

    DuncanSA's caution is well stated. Although electricity contains no heat energy and cannot ignite graphite coated black powder by itself, it's entirely possible the powder might contain tiny pieces of metal that would heat up when exposed to the electrical energy, thus igniting the powder. It has happened. The smart thing to do is take no chances.
     
  11. bobby n.

    bobby n. Member

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    back in the 1940s the us navy used a static charge to fire its weapons aboard ship. the navy used black powder and made the handlers wear
    special shoes to prevent a static charge from igniting the powder charges. this was before the navy began using kordite and other nitrocellulose powder charges . the navy still uses black powder charges in some of its munitions and still requires special training to prevent static discharges accidental ignition
    of black powder charges.. a few years ago there was an explosion aboard a ship and a big investigation if anyone remembers .....
     
  12. scrat

    scrat Member

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    IOWA yep sure everyone does.
     
  13. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Perhaps you missed the role that the graphite coating (the 'g' in fffg) plays on the bp granules we use. The Navy's bp munitions were made 40 to 50 years ago and do not have the graphite coating.
     
  14. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    As a matter of fact, several years ago I was part of a BP demonstration group that was going to provide part of an event on a military facility, and the range office asked me if the powder was "glazed" or not (coated with graphite). I thought it odd at the time, as I knew Goex and other brands only sold glazed or graphite coated powder to civilians. Apparently there are some other applications where military black powder is not graphite coated, at least the range safety officer knew to ask about it. The graphite also cuts down on micro-dust particles, which could, if not conductive, heat due to resistance when touched by a static discharge. A tiny bit of floating dust would then cause a chain reaction like grain dust in a grain elevator.

    LD
     
  15. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Copper was also placed on the hull to to reduce the fouling (barnacles) and the rot from being exposed to water.
     
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