of smokeless powders is always a consideration for handloaders.
Many question the safety of storing such a flammable material around
the home, an understandable concern. In reality, modern smokeless
propellants are much safer to store than gasoline, flammable aerosols,
and many other chemicals found in the average garage. It does, however,
deserve a healthy respect, and proper storage conditions must be
adhered to. The following recommendations will greatly reduce the
risks of storing powders, as well as ensuring that the powder stays
in good condition.
store powder in a cool, dry place. The location should be shielded
from direct sunlight, and not subjected to extreme temperature variations.
of powder should be limited to that which will be used in the near
future. The powder kept on hand should be rotated, to assure its
freshness and performance. Consult with SAAMI and your local fire
ordinances regarding storage of large amounts of smokeless propellants
or black powder.
should always be stored in its original container, clearly labeled
as to its identity, and kept tightly sealed. NEVER transfer powder
to another container. Many types of smokeless propellants are hygroscopic,
that is, they attract and absorb moisture. The original packaging
is properly designed to keep the powder fresh and in good condition.
Take advantage of it.
No Smoking signs prominently if the area is open to
guests or other visitors, and demand absolute compliance at all
shelf life of modern smokeless propellant is virtually indefinite,
given proper conditions. Improperly stored, however, powder deterioration
will occur. If you suspect that powder has been improperly stored,
it should be checked for the following signs: 1) An irritating acidic
odor, not to be confused with the ether odor common to most forms
of smokeless powder. 2) A reddish dust, or a clumped
appearance. 3) An oily or sticky substance in the powder. If the
powder in question appears to have deteriorated, it should be destroyed
at once. We recommend
that it be burned out in the open in small (not exceeding one pound)
amounts. The powder should be spread out so that it is no more than
one inch deep at any point, and provides an ignition train allowing
it to be ignited from a safe distance.
Winchester Model 70 was destroyed by the mistaken use of a fast-burning
pistol powder. ALWAYS keep powders in their original containers,
and NEVER attempt to identify powders by their appearance!