Black powder, plastic, and static electricity

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by .38 Special, Aug 20, 2020.

  1. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Most of us probably have heard that we should not use regular powder measures with BP because the plastic hoppers can result in static electricity.

    Most of us probably have also noted that many brands of BP are now sold in plastic containers, and many of us also have used plastic Lee dippers with BP.

    And those of us who take Muzzle Blasts magazine may have noticed the article wherein the authors were unable to ignite BP with static and explained why it essentially could not be done. For those of you who do not have access, here is a similar, but less in-depth article which came to the same conclusion.

    Short version: is there actually any reason not to use a standard powder measure with BP?
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2020
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    I'd say ignition is super rare but it does happen. Some plastics don't conducted very well but some will.
     
  3. Malachi Leviticus Blue

    Malachi Leviticus Blue Member

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    I wouldn't and don't worry about any static charge being sourced from a little tiny plastic dipper.
    Now if you were transporting the powder through a plastic tube system across your pole barn then watch out
     
  4. Mike 56

    Mike 56 Member

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    I used to make black powder after I would make a batch I would put some in a line and light to see how fast it was. When you light black powder it has to burn before it lights up a spark will not do it. As far as Lee dippers Lee states you need to wash them in dish soap and water and not rinse them, just let them dry and they are treated against static electricity.
     
  5. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    for all things that can't be proven, many grain mills have exploded. Thats flour grain, not explosive, really not even flammable, but its well documented. Black powder may not explode buy if you ground it down to a mist I bet static would light it off. I have seen a lot of smokeless dust at the bottom of a bottle, I would imagine BP could do the same.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_explosion
     
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  6. Mike 56

    Mike 56 Member

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    Yes, if you saturate a confined air space with black powder dust the slightest spark would set it off.
     
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  7. SlowFuse

    SlowFuse Member

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    I'm debating this static thing literally right now.

    Ordering a new reservoir for a Lyman 55 and was thinking this would be the perfect time to get the black powder version along with a lid and baffle.

    It's $45 for bp specific parts vs $10 for the plastic parts. Couple of people I've asked along with who I got the measure from said these old 55s with plastic hoppers are good to go with BP... I've never used a measure for black at all so I dont know... I see points on both sides as valid.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2020
  8. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    If the measure parts are aluminum/brass, fine.
    But steel-steel... No.
     
  9. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    Please give us a link to and incident where it actually did happen.

    Dave
     
  10. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Fireworks manufacturer
     
  11. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    That's not a link to a source of information, it simply a statement.

    Dave
     
  12. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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  13. HUnter58

    HUnter58 Member

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  14. Malachi Leviticus Blue

    Malachi Leviticus Blue Member

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    I think we all know that BP is explosive and that there have been explosions at powder mills.
    However, neither of those links has anything to do with the potential static charge in a tiny little Lee dipper.

    Does anyone here wear a static ground strap when loading? (like used when working on electronics for example)
    I haven't seen any evidence that a little old plastic Lee dipper can hold a static charge greater than a typical adult's body.

    ANY combustible dust that is suspended in air near or at saturation in a confined space is an explosive hazard, including the flour in your kitchen. That has nothing to do with using a Lee dipper to measure BP under reasonable conditions.
     
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  15. SlowFuse

    SlowFuse Member

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    Thats a good thought. I have one of these in a box of odd parts under my loading bench from a past life of working on computers. I intended to use it while measuring powder but never did... Wonder if just strapping it to the powder stand or a stationary part of the measure would be effective...

    rps20200821_080019.jpg
     
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  16. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Tell that to my flintlock.....

    Please explain why workers in Black Powder plants and Fireworks Plants ground themselves when working??? Why did powder magazines in the past have lightning rods? o_O

    The Correct Answer to "does static electricity set off black powder" is YES....because the question is not properly asked. ;)
    You see folks under the category of "static electricity" is lightning.... and it has in the past blown more than one powder magazine to pieces when it struck. :confused:

    The question should be, is the static charge that is built up by walking across the room on synthetic fiber carpet, or petting the cat on a dry winter day, or pulling apart socks taken from the dryer, or if the static electricity discharged from a plastic dipper..., enough to set off commonly used, commercially produced and glazed, black powder. The answer is no.

    A fireworks plant has aerosolized dust, so does a black powder plant, and a grain elevator has aerozolized dust particles of grain, and so if you have a situation where you have some black powder dust..., then you may have a greater risk factor.

    Average Joe at home, no worries, ... he's probably fine. (Hey there is always the first time eh?)

    LD
     
  17. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Thanks to all so far.

    With regard to ground-up powder: the CTMuzzleloaders link in the OP and in HUnter58's post directs to an article wherein the author did actually grind up powder to dust and then zap it, using roughly four times the voltage produced by the typical "walking across the carpet" deal, and still couldn't get it to ignite. Would he have been able to had ithe dust been airborne? Who knows. That seems like a pretty atypical environment for the average BP enthusiast regardless.

    My limited understanding of the subject leads me to believe that heat is the primary mechanism by which BP is ignited. The sparks from a flintlock obviously are hot enough for the task, but apparently the typical "at home" static discharge is not even close. Lightning is of course, is a bit warmer, as I understand it. "Do not load BP under tall objects during electrical storms" probably is a good idea!
     
  18. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Posted by Mike Erwin:

    "....Black powder can go off from compression, but it's extremely doubtful that you could get the kind of compression needed to do this by ramming a ball home.

    There have, however, been several verified instances of muzzleloaders going off due to static discharge from the clothing being worn by the shooter.
    Some synthetic materials can generate substantial static charges."
    See post #9. --->>> https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/are-muzzleloaders-dangerous.31806/
     
  19. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I would like to see the verifications. Without meaning to be rude or disrespectful, I'm frankly doubtful, at this point, that static electricity can ignite BP.
     
  20. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I don't worry about static electricity generated by triboelectric effect as an ignition risk, but static cling is a problem.
    My plastic scale pan is coated with graphite based mold release to prevent cling and I have what may be the last Pacific aluminum powder funnel in captivity.
    The Redding powder measure I load BPCR with has a copper pipe hopper but as a replacement for the cheap acrylic rotted out by double base powder, not because of static.
     
  21. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Last edited: Aug 21, 2020
  22. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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  23. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    There's some interesting posts in this MLF thread besides the one below: --->>> https://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/threads/static-electricity.117123/
    -----
    The United States Bureau of Mines reports that confined powder can be ignited by electrostatic discharge energy of 0.8 J, whereas 12.5 J are required for unconfined powder. Dahn and Reyes (1994) have reported that, under certain conditions, black powder can be ignited by a 0.04 J spark.
    The presence of the graphite glaze on most black powder grades reduces the static hazard, since graphite is a relatively good conductor and allows charge transfer over the grain surface through the grounding without ignition.

    Carpet shocks:
    • 750V, 0.04mJ - Spark threshold, visible in darkness
    • 4KV, 1.2 mJoules - Winter doorknob spark, small snap, little pinprick
    • 7KV, 3.7 mJoules - Fairly nasty spark, louder snap. Ouch.
    • Taser, tens of mJoules
    • 35KV, 100 mJoules - Highest measured spark: northshore Alaska winter, vinyl truck seat.
    • 100KV, half a joule - VandeGraaff machine with chain of children connected
     
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  24. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    I found the following quote in a Rossi ML Owner's Manual.

    "30. SAFETY FIRST: Protect your eyes and ears. Wear shooting glasses and ear protectors (ear-muff-type or ear-plugs) while you’re firing any firearm.
    Avoid wearing clothing made of nylon or other synthetics while near black powder. Static electricity can set off Pyrodex."

    See Page 5. --->>> http://www.wedophones.com/Manuals/Guns/Rossi Muzzleloader.pdf
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2020
  25. whughett

    whughett Member

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    I use mine to drop powder charges in 45 Colt. No boom so far, stay tuned. The hopper is plastic but the rotor is brass. I did learn to remove the rotor and wipe it and the cavity down after dropping charges.
     
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