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Thread: Powder decay?

  1. #1
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    Default Powder decay?

    I am slow to wise-up and with some things I never do.

    However, with the prices of components rising, I've been bulk buying most everything I use when it's time to restock...even the powders that I don't use as often are being replaced with kegs. I suspect that some of these kegs may be around for a few years or even longer, and my son may end up using them long after I'm gone.

    Does the bang in the powder significantly decay over time...human time...or is it more like the half-life of radioactive plutonium?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc View Post
    I am slow to wise-up and with some things I never do.

    However, with the prices of components rising, I've been bulk buying most everything I use when it's time to restock...even the powders that I don't use as often are being replaced with kegs. I suspect that some of these kegs may be around for a few years or even longer, and my son may end up using them long after I'm gone.

    Does the bang in the powder significantly decay over time...human time...or is it more like the half-life of radioactive plutonium?
    It can go south on you, especially the long grain powders. Supposedly ball powders last forever, but I doubt I'll be around forever to confirm that.

    I bought 200 pounds of the old surplus 4831 back in the early 1970's in two cardboard barrels. I transferred it to an assortment of containers holding four to ten pounds each. I've been real careful with it all these years, keeping it sealed in a dark place with stable temps. I've got around 50 pounds left. So far I've had about half a pound go bad in one small container that got lost in the shuffle and sat mostly empty for several years. That's because I never open the larger containers till I need them, then only to pour out a pound or so into a smaller container and work from that.

    I have to believe that any day now my loss is going to accelerate, but I've been thinking that for the last 15 years. Guess I better get busy and shoot up the remains before it goes bad, but gosh. There won't be any more once it's gone, so it's kinda hard not to hoard and save it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    It can go south on you, especially the long grain powders. Supposedly ball powders last forever, but I doubt I'll be around forever to confirm that.

    I bought 200 pounds of the old surplus 4831 back in the early 1970's in two cardboard barrels. I transferred it to an assortment of containers holding four to ten pounds each. I've been real careful with it all these years, keeping it sealed in a dark place with stable temps. I've got around 50 pounds left. So far I've had about half a pound go bad in one small container that got lost in the shuffle and sat mostly empty for several years. That's because I never open the larger containers till I need them, then only to pour out a pound or so into a smaller container and work from that.

    I have to believe that any day now my loss is going to accelerate, but I've been thinking that for the last 15 years. Guess I better get busy and shoot up the remains before it goes bad, but gosh. There won't be any more once it's gone, so it's kinda hard not to hoard and save it.


    After loosing a lot of the old surplus powder, I buy for long term powders WW-760 and WW-748 ball powders. Buy a case at a time of the kegs and it will keep you for a while. It's always best to buy powder by the case of kegs. You don't have the trouble of a shift in loading due to different lots. (that's if it doesnt break the piggy bank).
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    After loosing a lot of the old surplus powder, I buy for long term powders WW-760 and WW-748 ball powders. Buy a case at a time of the kegs and it will keep you for a while. It's always best to buy powder by the case of kegs. You don't have the trouble of a shift in loading due to different lots. (that's if it doesnt break the piggy bank).
    Yup.

    That's why I've been buying the recent stuff in 8 pound kegs. Got a deal on 3 kegs of 748 and two of 760 and 3 of 700x a few years back (as in $5 per keg in an estate sale). I've been kinda hoarding the WW till I have to give up on or finish using the remains of my 4831.

    Of course lately I've had my eyes peeled for black and its subs, all of which supposedly hold indefinitely. Got an approved vault and can legally keep up to 50 pounds of the black. It's so hard to get in my location that I try to buy several years' worth every time the opportunity arises. Gotta say too, that my consumption of black has really cut into my use of cartridge powders in recent years.

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    Thanks for the information guys...very helpful.

    Next question...How do you know a powder is going bad? I'm assuming that a reduction in velocity for a known charge/caliber/bullet/primer combination is the primary indicator? Right, wrong?

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    Default Powder going bad

    The powder changes odor going from an ether / acetone smell to an vinegar smell ( acetic acid). You will also get a a very fine orange dust in the power you will notice when you pour it. If it is in a metal can it will rust through the can.

    Storage condition obviously has a lot to do with life but the manufacuring of the power is also important. Nitro cellulose must tbe thoroughtly washed or the residue acid will destroy it over time.

    I have some WWI ammunition that has cracked necks and the powder inside is still good although it has exposed to moisture and set around for nealy 90 years yet I've had sealed cans go bad.
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