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"Old" powder question

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Outlaw75, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Outlaw75

    Outlaw75 Member

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    I found two 1 pound containers of Titegroup that I forgot I had stashed in my reloading room. One container has never been opened, the other has been opened and about .25 pounds have been used. Handwritten purchase date on the container shows this to have been purchased about 4 years ago. Does anybody see any reason why I can't use this powder?
     
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Will be fine most reloaders here have powder 5 times that old.
     
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  3. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    In my shop, that's a NEW powder. Use it. Powder isn't like milk, it stays good for a long, long time if stored properly.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  4. Outlaw75

    Outlaw75 Member

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    That's what I figured, just wanted to make sure!

    Thanks, guys!
     
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  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Going to be on my soapbox for a bit. The shooting community has been lacking adult supervisor for so long on gunpowder, that certain myths have developed and one of them is that powder will not go bad if the seal is unbroken. I think that comes from the warning to keep bottles sealed.

    Air is full of water, it is called humidity. Water is a polar covalent molecule and the "ionic" end attacks the double bonds on nitrocellulose. All ionic compounds attack those double bonds, like rust in those old powder cans. But, and this is a big but, gunpowder is still deteriorating whether or not you break the seal.

    So, break the seals, break them regularly, and take a sniff of your powder stocks.

    gYgK0S0.jpg

    remove from the house, and pour all powder out that smells vinegary/bitter. I believe the bitterness in what I smelt was nitric acid gas, in small concentrations. When gunpowder breaks down it releases NOx and I don't know what each molecule smells like, but I doubt any of them smell good.

    This is gunpowder at a very dangerous condition.

    p3BUwl9.jpg

    That red is either nitric acid gas, or nitrogen dioxide, which will become nitric acid gas when it encounters a water molecule. Gunpowder that deteriorated is ready to autocombust and burn your house down. No joke! Old gunpowder is dangerous as all heck, and if you ever google ammunition dump explosions, (which happen about once a month) the primary reason for the big kabooms, is the autocombustion of old gunpowders.





    If you ever smell that red vapor you won't forget it. It will knock your socks off, it is horrible.

    So, if your powder smells fine, go shoot it. A good rule of thumb is use it up before it is ten years old. When powder is 20 years old it really starts to fail. But sometimes sooner.

    KYSquJE.jpg

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    I write on my bottles the lot date, or the purchase date, if I can't figure out when it was made. And I keep my eyes on the old stock and use that up first.

    So, to repeat, inspect your powder frequently, break the seal and sniff. If it smells bad, get rid of it before it burns your house down.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  6. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    Hodgdon's isn't Vihta-Vuori, Hodgdon's will last a long, long time if kept in a reasonable environment.
     
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  7. George P

    George P Member

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    4 years old is like yesterday. Alliant has Unique that's over 100 years old they store under water and every year bring a sample out, dry it out and fire it off so 4 years is young.
     
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  8. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

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    You'll notice that the use of metal lids has gone by the wayside. All it takes is a small defect in the finish on those steel lids and they will start to rust. Get enough rust on that metal lid and the seal is compromised and the powder is exposed to the air.
     
  9. RodII

    RodII Member

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    I have powder in my cabinet that is at least 30 years old, and my reloading set up is in a non air conditioned work shop. I have checked mine in the past and have never had any go bad, but it is a good idea to check older powder ever so often to be sure.
     
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  10. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Years ago I contacted Hercules and they were doing that. I mentioned that to a Naval Insensitive Munitions expert and he made the comment that the lifetime of the stuff was severely compromised out of the water. I did find a 1930's article in Army Ordnance Magazine on how water exposure leached material out of the gunpowders of the period. In a post WW2 Ordnance book I found a reference to "water proofed" gunpowder that was developed during WW2, but I don't know how water proof or any particulars.

    I did find a document that stated old deteriorated Naval powders were stored in water pools prior to demilling. The water kept the heat down and no doubt absorbed some of the acid gases coming out of the powder. But, these powders were not used as is after water exposure.

    I do know, Hercules pulled those ads and I remember there was a little comment at the bottom that they did not recommend to their customers that they store their gunpowder in a water jar. You know, when a company shows a stupid or dangerous practice in an ad with their product, they can get sued. I remember a lawsuit against a car company. The owner had taken their new car to the beach and drove along the seashore and got the under carriage wet. The vehicle rusted out badly. The owner sued the car company. In court the car company claimed only idiots drove their vehicles in wet beach sand and they did not recommend the practice. The lawyer for the plaintiff then showed one of the car company TV ads, and that same car was being driven on the beach, through the surf! :eek:

    This is what they were bragging about in 1936. Powders that lasted 25 years.

    GD1NQq7.jpg

    But, none of this will register with the shooting community. The shooting community is under the delusion they are immortal, and therefore their stashes of gunpowder and ammunition has to last forever with them. You can't convince those living in a delusion that what they believe is false, and I see it all the time. And industry reinforces this delusion, because they make a lot of money at it.

    I will provide this advice. Don't live next to an ammunition depot or a Government facility that does ammunition demilling. And don't live under a bridge.

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    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
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  11. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    I agree with that. It was an advertising scheme to show their powder was water proof. Left open to the air it isn't any better than anyone elses. And it still has to be dried out before it will burn so I don't know if "water proof" applies.

    And that powder that is under water is Laflin and Rand's Infallable, not Unique, according to the book of Lafland and Rands history. The recipe was changed years later trying to clean the stuff up so it wasn't so messy to shoot and the name after the reformulation was changed to Unique.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
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  12. Alliant Reloading

    Alliant Reloading Member

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    Actually, separate containers of Unique(R) and Infallible(R) are side by side. I know because we brought them from our Kenvil, NJ facility when we closed it to our new facility in Radford, VA. That was in September 1996. In addition, I started two new samples to be stored under water as historical milestones. One was the last lot of powder produced at Kenvil (it was a lot of American Select(R)), and one was the first lot produced at Radford in our new commercial facility (and that was Bullseye(R)).
     
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  13. Reloadron
    • Contributing Member

    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    Properly stored I would just do a sniff test and load and shoot it. Today I shot some Bullseye I bought during the mid 90s and loaded into 38 Special two years ago. I have shot other powders I bought in the mid 90s and it burned just fine. I just inspect it and sniff test it. All of my powder, primers and other components are stored at or below 75 F with a RH of about 40% ~ 50%. While I would never buy into the myth that powder doesn't go bad because it certainly does I also won't hesitate to use powders I have had stored after some prudent inspection.

    Ron
     
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  14. 748

    748 Member

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    I got some 1990s unique. Works great.
     
  15. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    @Alliant Reloading ,
    What is the reason of storing these samples under water if you don't mind me asking?
     
  16. HOWARD J

    HOWARD J Member

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    I had about 30 #'s of powder stored in my garage attic for about 25 years---hot summer-cold winter--I have used all of it & it worked like new.
     
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