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Thread: Bad Powder pictures

  1. #61
    Boolit Master

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    I notice that most of these posts report powder stored in some hot areas for a long time before use or unknown stored milsurp powders. I store all mine in the back bedroom closet the same as my grandfather used to do. I took in his old powder collection when he passed and have just recently used the last of his stash. I had some older metal can powders and I'm not sure when 2400 was rebranded as Alliant but this was a lot of older Herc powder. Not a bit of it was bad and everything went bang with the pull of the trigger.

  2. #62
    Boolit Master detox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maximumbob54 View Post
    I'm not sure when 2400 was rebranded as Alliant but this was a lot of older Herc powder. Not a bit of it was bad and everything went bang with the pull of the trigger.
    Alliant began relabling canisters in 1995. I once worked for Hercules until they sold.

  3. #63
    Boolit Master



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    Thanks for the heads up,I will have to check the powder I have.

  4. #64
    Boolit Buddy
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    Another reason, people should stop buying 20+ pounds of W 231 etc. That they likely won't use for 20 years plus.... Hoarding is not that great apparently. Anyways, yea if you have dry relatively cool conditions, your powder should be fine. Just sucks not being able to buy any pistol powder at all.

  5. #65
    Boolit Bub Farmer&shooter's Avatar
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    Over the years I have had some old 4831 start to DUST, after being over forty years old, but NOTHING like those first pictures! Mine probably enjoyed the best possible storage conditions, while the powder in those horrific pictures must have been stored under the BBQ!

  6. #66
    Boolit Bub Farmer&shooter's Avatar
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    I have 2400 that is about forty years old. I have carefully stored it, and it is just fine.

  7. #67
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I had to quit reloading for over 30 years.

    I stored my powder in the freezer section of an old junk refrigerator.

    The fridge was in the gun room along with all of my moulds and other steel goodies like guns,dies and presses.

    When I started back again there was not one speck of rust on any piece of metal and the temp in the room had never been over 75 nor below 70 some powder survives till this day but others went directly out on the rose bed and what was left of the metal cans went into the garbage.

    Why some survived and others that were stored only 1/4 inch away went bad still remains a mystery to me.
    WE WON. WE BEAT THE MACHINE. WE HAVE CCW NOW.

  8. #68
    Boolit Master Ricochet's Avatar
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    Red face Smokeless Powder Deterioration

    I've read what Dr. Tenney L. Davis's 1942 textbook "The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives" has to say about this, and I have a US military article that I downloaded before they took their technical stuff offline or at least blocked it from search engines. Nitrocellulose is inherently unstable. You can't make it stable, but you can reduce conditions that make it more unstable. There is a small amount of water left in all powders, and this gradually reacts with nitrocellulose by hydrolysis, a molecule of water reacting with a nitrate group on the nitrocellulose to produce a molecule of free nitric acid and restoring the original hydroxyl group of cellulose at that site. Nitric acid catalyzes more rapid hydrolysis of other nitrate groups, which accelerates exponentially. You might think that removing all the water would be a fix for this, but it's not practical and a very thin film of adsorbed water on the surface of the powder grains actually helps extend the powder life. Nitric acid decomposes to produce nitric oxide, which is clear, and nitrogen dioxide which is the nasty brown gas. Same stuff that makes smog brownish. The nitrogen oxides also catalyze more rapid breakdown of nitrocellulose. Lots of things have been tried or used to block these reactions, but two have been widely used. Diphenylamine reacts with the nitrogen compounds to form nitrodiphenylamine, and can react once more to form dinitrodiphenylamine. When all of the diphenylamine is used up this way it no longer helps to preserve the powder. Usually about 1% diphenylamine is used. More than about 2% diphenylamine deteriorates powder faster itself. The other acid neutralizer is calcium carbonate in the form of chalk, put in the aqueous phase during Ball powder manufacture to clear out residual acids from either newly made nitrocellulose or old deteriorated powder being recycled. Some of it gets into the powder, where it can continue to absorb nitric or nitrous acids released from deteriorating powder. That residual chalk has also been reported to cause gas system fouling and bore deposits in some cases, so since the mid '60s the amount of it in the powder has been reduced. The other big thing that deteriorates powder is heat. Like most chemical reactions, these reactions occur more rapidly as the temperature rises, often exponentially. Powder lasts much longer with cool storage. The military has used a system where a sample from each batch of powder used is kept, referenced to the ammunition lots loaded from it. These samples are kept at an elevated temperature around 150 degrees F if memory serves me, and they have a formula for this more rapid aging to convert to expected ammo life in normal service. They watch for red fumes, and when that starts the powder is done. When they predict a lot of ammo has expired according to the test they retire it, it's pulled down and that's where much of our surplus powder comes from so it's already on a short expected life. Furthermore, the decomposition reactions are exothermic, releasing heat. If powder is stored in large bulk amounts the heat can't escape, the rising temperature makes the powder decompose faster releasing more heat, and eventually the powder autoignites. This has caused major disasters with battleships, ammo dumps etc. blowing up. That's a possible consideration if you have barrels or cases of powders in close storage. One more thing about deteriorating smokeless powder: It loses chemical energy as the nitrate groups are lost, but often old powder makes erratic, unexpectedly high pressures. The reason, according to the Army ballisticians, is that the long molecular chains of nitrocellulose break into shorter molecules. This makes powder more brittle. Powder grains shatter during firing, exposing much more surface area to burning, making it burn faster and raising pressures. That is a major reason they retire military ammo when it reaches the end of its "best used by" life. Very old ammo may exhibit this. I've seen signs of higher than normal pressures including perforated primers with early 1940s Turkish ammo, which has likely seen high temperatures in storage. So check your powders now and then for the red-brown fumes. If you see any it's time for that powder to be safely disposed, and you'd better make sure any ammo loaded with it gets used quickly or broken down.
    "A cheerful heart is good medicine."

  9. #69
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Thanks for posting the explanation and warnings.
    WE WON. WE BEAT THE MACHINE. WE HAVE CCW NOW.

  10. #70
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Ricochet - Excellent post!
    Regards
    John

  11. #71
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchman View Post
    Reloder 7 from 1984 went bad a couple years ago.





    Older metal keg of SR4759 is still good.

    Wow! I've never seen stuff like that - and I have powder on my shelf that is, in a couple cans, 30+ years old - price stickers like 2.96, 4.35!
    I've always been sort of careful about wild temperature variations, sealed cans, low humidity...

    I bought from a friend this week an 8# container of 4756, commented as we parted that it felt good to be buying in 8# containers again.
    Had a bout with cancer a couple years ago, and for awhile wouldn't even buy a green banana!
    Let's hope that 2016 is a good year - and keep your powder dry, of from whatever makes that brown gunk! Yuk!
    Bob;
    Last edited by BwBrown; 12-26-2015 at 12:21 AM.

  12. #72
    Boolit Grand Master


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    When it looks like this


    It has AGED enough to make great fertilizer for moms favorite flower bed.
    WE WON. WE BEAT THE MACHINE. WE HAVE CCW NOW.

  13. #73
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by williamwaco View Post
    Those evil brown fumes were Nitro Glycerine.
    The liquid is quite likely the same.


    You need to dispose of that VERY CAREFULLY.



    .
    Sorry, both powders are single base and have no NG content, nor is NG a decomposition product.
    I give loading advice based on my actual results in factory rifles with standard chambers, twist rates and basic accurizing.
    My goals for using cast boolits are lots of good, cheap, and reasonably accurate shooting, while avoiding overly tedious loading processes.
    The BHN Deformation Formula, and why I don't use it.
    How to find and fix sizing die eccentricity problems.
    Do you trust your casting thermometer?
    A few musings.

  14. #74
    Boolit Master
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    Just thinking if any unburned Powder is left in the Rifle Barrel and it has the same corrosive tendencies,it may well ruin a good Rifle.Since Steel Cans are rusting it stands to reason that barrel Steel will be damaged.

  15. #75
    I'm still trying to figure out how to separate out the brown grains
    Have you tried separating it in water to see if one color floats, like bad eggs or potatoes?

  16. #76
    Ricochet,
    That is almost exactly what DuPont's handbook says.

    Why we all get warned about handling nitrocellulose powder,
    From DuPont's 1978 'Handling Of Military Bulk Propellants & Explosives',

    "Nitric acid (the 'Nitro' in Nitroglycerin) is a powerful solvent and will easily & ready penetrate skin, particularly thin skin between fingers, wrists, face & neck.
    Direct ingestion is possible when touching mouth, nose & eyes.
    Studies have confirmed the average human touches their face 3 to 5 times every waking moment.
    Nitric acid metabolizes into nitric oxide, a powerful vascular dilator, which will cause spikes in blood pressure, dizzy spells, severe headaches, heart palpitations, heart arrhythmia, strokes and eventually death.
    All appropriate personal protection equipment (Chemical PPE) should be worn while handling, and PPE should NOT be handled afterwards until properly cleaned."

    They always warned us about the 'Powder High' & headaches...

  17. #77
    Boolit Master
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    And yet I was prescribed nitro tabs if I felt another heart attack coming on. The good part was if I felt an instant headache it wasn't a heart attack.....
    Tom
    μολὼν λαβέ


    Did I ever mention that I hate to trim brass?

  18. #78
    Boolit Man
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    Last week-end I was at the range testing different brands of ammo in a 22lr. One box of Winchester brand 22lr had several misfires. I turned the cartridges and fired again but no luck. A couple of weak sounding reports and a few normal shots. I used my multi- tool to pull the bullets for recycling and the powder in the failed ammo was black and clumped together . I disassembled a dozen more and encountered some that was half light gray fluffy and half black clumped and some that we're fully gray dry powder and a few that were completely black and wet looking. This was all from the same box that looked completely normal on the outside. I came by it frm an estate so I do not know the history behind its storage. First time I have encountered anything like this.

  19. #79
    Boolit Master
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    So the solution is store climate controlled at somewhat lower temps?

  20. #80
    Boolit Buddy
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    GONRA sez - almost certainly - YES!!!!!!

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check