Quantcast

What powder do I have?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by tbradford13, Sep 23, 2019.

  1. tbradford13

    tbradford13 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Springfield, MO
    My grandfather passed away several years ago and my grandmother recently gave me a box with all of his reloading supplies that she found while cleaning the attic. The box contained the following: Chilled lead shot, 12ga wads, 20ga wads, .410 wads, 30-06 brass, 44mag brass, and a LARGE glass jar full of an unlabeled powder that I suspect he bought in the late 70s or 80s. Being the sentimental and resourceful guy I am, I would feel bad if I had to throw away the powder, as it hasn't gone bad and there is a lot of it. I've been scouring the internet trying to figure out what powder I have using the national center for forensic science (http://www.ilrc.ucf.edu/powders/sample_detail.php?). Based on the other items in the box, I would guess that it is a shotgun powder, but the brass has me wondering if it could be for rifle or pistol reloading. I was going to take a picture of my powder and upload it, but it appears that someone else online was in my exact situation with the exact same powder. In other words, my powder looks exactly like the second picture at the following link in that it is a metallic gray, perfectly circular flake powder, with a hole in the center: http://10mm-firearms.com/reloading/story-of-unknown-powder-testing/ .

    S5TK8bwyEo9d719lMEPyPh702KzmVQwXCt5KVrlIO6eBHvgBQOoPEnUTaSNqVnjv03EskONe6gcn8xG7wfXA11Ra_X_LON13.png

    If there are any experienced reloaders out there who might have a guess, I would be grateful. As a practicing reloader myself, I assure you that I don’t intend to go loading it without knowing what it is and blow myself up. I’d just like to know what I have and how to go about safely testing it. Any help is appreciated!
     
  2. silicosys4

    silicosys4 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Messages:
    2,621
    You have a large glass jar full of fertilizer, IMO.
    I wouldn't chance blowing up a gun or myself to save what, $75 for a few pounds of known powder.
     
    Skgreen, Dudedog, ATLDave and 6 others like this.
  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    25,581
    Unknown powder in a glass jar "just like" somebody else's unknown powder?
    Scary.
     
    Demi-human and tbradford13 like this.
  4. DocRock

    DocRock Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2019
    Messages:
    362
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    It’s not worth it.
     
  5. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,592
    Location:
    East Texas
    High nitrogen fertilizer flakes...
     
    Demi-human and tbradford13 like this.
  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    25,581
    Not really.
    I can find nothing to say nitrocellulose + nitroglycerin is degradable by soil microbes to soluble nitrates the plants can use. I sprinkled some powder in a flower pot with no effect.
     
    CZ9shooter and tbradford13 like this.
  7. Obturation
    • Contributing Member

    Obturation Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2018
    Messages:
    703
    Location:
    Northern illinois
    I wouldnt use a known powder of that age, that i personally bought. Some might but not me, think of your fingers and face man.
     
    Demi-human and tbradford13 like this.
  8. tbradford13

    tbradford13 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Springfield, MO
    I kind of expected these types of responses. I realize no one is going to recommend anything that may cause harm to someone. Believe me, I'm a cautious guy myself. I'll probably end of throwing it out anyway. Really, I was just curious what my grandpa was using and if I could get any use out of it other than for tripwire perimeter poppers ;). Every prepper bone in my body tells me not to waste it. I guess I could always take a sample of it to the next gun show so the guy at the reloading booth can give me his 2 cents on what it might be, even if it winds up getting tossed.
     
  9. WrongHanded
    • Contributing Member

    WrongHanded Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2017
    Messages:
    1,169
    Powder is much cheaper than a Major Medical deductable (or a new gun).
     
  10. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,592
    Location:
    East Texas
    The powder has stabilizers added to keep it from breaking down quickly. Once they are depleted the powder will decompose.

    Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you're looking at it), this powder has been "pre-treated" by storage in an attic for years or decades, a proven process for breaking down diphenylamine stabilizers.
     
    Skgreen, Slamfire and Demi-human like this.
  11. Obturation
    • Contributing Member

    Obturation Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2018
    Messages:
    703
    Location:
    Northern illinois
    I am not experienced enough to know that powder but i am familiar with the type. Yeah sure make some poppers out of it, whatever but dont hold it in your hand. Another consideration is the possibility the produced ammunition may find its way into someones firearm who would never take the risk you may be willing to take. All that said i know people load 50+ year old powder and it works but typically its something they've bought, stored accordingly and are familiar with.if you do identify the powder modern loading guides may not cover it.
     
    tbradford13 likes this.
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    25,581
    But not into fertilizer. We've seen Slamfire's rotten powder pictures with red nitrogen dioxide fumes and corroded cans and cartridges. Not going to do the zinnias any good.
     
    Slamfire likes this.
  13. tbradford13

    tbradford13 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Springfield, MO
    I like how this thread started as don't blow yourself up and transformed into a discussion of the potential botanical properties of decomposing smokeless propellant, or lack thereof.
     
    .308 Norma, DocRock and CZ9shooter like this.
  14. Obturation
    • Contributing Member

    Obturation Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2018
    Messages:
    703
    Location:
    Northern illinois
    But did we convince you not to potentially turn your hand into a meat ball?
     
    tbradford13, Slamfire and Demi-human like this.
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    25,581
    After "Don't!" we needed something to kick around.
     
  16. PRD1

    PRD1 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Messages:
    260
    Location:
    S.E. Arizona
    You have already received all the (good) advice you need to make the right decision as to what to do with the powder in question. But what you actually asked is: 'what powder might this actually be?). From its appearance and the visible presence of several green flakes, it is most likely Green Dot; a shotgun powder which is also useful for some pistol loads. Do not take that as gospel - merely a best guess. There is no good way to test it with any real assurance of safety. Do what you think best.

    PRD1 - mhb - MIke
     
    tbradford13 and Obturation like this.
  17. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    Messages:
    19,996
    Location:
    Northwest Coast
    Be safe! As many others already posted, when in doubt, use it as fertilizer. I would not use any powder I found in an unlabeled glass jar!

    I repeat, DO NOT use any powder you are not sure of as to what it is (Not in factory sealed container as someone could have put powder in different/wrong label container - Things happen in life and people do strange and crazy things - Just ask my wife :D), how old it is, how it was stored, etc. as you have NO IDEA how stable the powder is and how it is going to perform when ignited.

    Here's a good reading on Hodgdon's warning about powder storage and powder stability - https://www.hodgdonreloading.com/reloading-education/safety/gunpowder-stability

    Just treat it like your grandmother gave you a bag of fertilizer. ;)

    What I gather from looking at the OP's picture (BTW, which is borrowed from another forum) is different shade of grey which could be lighting or different amount of solvent in the granules possibly indicating varying degrees of chemical decomposition. The green tint you see may be contamination. We just don't know.

    And on top of not knowing what powder OP has (which we don't even have a picture of), we also don't know how old the powder is, how long it has been stored and under what conditions, especially temperature and exposure to sunlight, which directly affect chemical breakdown of powder to make it unstable.

    BTW, here's a close up comparison picture of Green Dot showing really "green" flakes - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...s-and-discussions.778197/page-7#post-10094185

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
    tbradford13, Slamfire and Demi-human like this.
  18. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2016
    Messages:
    2,138
    Location:
    The Haymarsh, MI
    I see no green markers in the picture of powder that is not actually the powder we need to see. The one green looking kernel is cromatic dispersion of the light.

    Green dot powder flakes do not have holes.

    That is not green dot. (See LiveLife's example.)

    Flake powder is most likley a pistol or shotgun powder. Meaning very fast. Even faster now, with its stabilizers depleted. Which they are, even if they are not off gassing nitric acid, yet.

    Even non wasteful humans are not foolish.
    Burn it. But not in a firearm.

    A huge portion of preparedness is not taking risks that have very little value. Sentimentality is useless for survival.
    Eye sight, and the ability to manipulate your physical world with fingers, is essential.

    Everything else in your box of history sounds usable.
    Cut your loss and carry on...
     
    NewHamshooter and tbradford13 like this.
  19. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Messages:
    568
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Well, whatever it is, it's not rifle powder. I definitely wouldn't try that with the 30-06. Perforated flake powder...should burn quite fast. You could try the loads from the 10mm board, but for safety's sake, id not recommended it. Fast powder can spike pressure extremely high with small changes in volume. As in...I can pack enough Titegroup in a 45acp round to get the velocity up to 850-875fps...but I'm way over max at that point.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
    tbradford13 likes this.
  20. Kevin Keith

    Kevin Keith Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2009
    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Burn up some fire ants.
     
    Catpop, Skgreen, tbradford13 and 4 others like this.
  21. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    59,055
    Location:
    Alabama
    An experienced reloader could make use of it, but is it worth the effort and risk? I agree, likely to be a shotgun powder, and likely to be pretty fast, maybe real fast. Heat in an attic is bad for powder, it's unknown, shotgun powder recipes need to be followed closely, and although it could probably be salvaged for a light pistol load, the safest thing to do is scrap it.
     
  22. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,336
    Location:
    W. PA
    I sprinkled a partial jug of Blue Dot on a section of my lawn that needed perking up last year. My conclusion was that it had no effect.
     
    tbradford13, Bfh_auto and Slamfire like this.
  23. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Messages:
    7,893
    Location:
    Mount Desert Island Maine
    Many many years ago you could buy propellant by the paper sack out of a keg at the local hardware store here. You could also buy dynamite there as well. I learned how to work up a load with a unknown type and a range rod to pound out the squibs. Now there are canister types and manuals that make safe ammo. These days I would just throw it on the lawn.
     
    tbradford13 and Walkalong like this.
  24. Ks5shooter

    Ks5shooter Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2013
    Messages:
    1,561
    Location:
    Communist state of nj
    Put it on the shelf ,look at it and remember your granddaddy and don't use it....ever.
     
    tbradford13 and Demi-human like this.
  25. Jack B.

    Jack B. Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2017
    Messages:
    1,548
    Location:
    Cocoa
    Like anything that you do involved in reloading , Don't Guess. Throw it out.
     
    tbradford13 and Bfh_auto like this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice