August 25th, 2020

Smart Advice on Powder Storage — What You Need to Know

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

SUMMARY: Powder can have a very long shelf life. You need to watch for changes in smell and color. A reddish tinge, almost like rust on the powder, is a bad sign, as is a foul odor, not to be confused with a normal chemical smell. Either of these signs indicate it is time to dispose of your powder by means other than shooting.

Ever wondered about the stability of the propellants in your reloading room? There are some important things you should know about powder storage, to ensure consistent powder performance and safety. On its website, Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders) published an informative Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.

Proper Powder Storage

Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.

Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.

CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)

In their original containers smokeless powder’s lifespan is quite long, even in your hot, arid climate, typically longer than the average handloader would need to store them. Stored safely in a garage or outbuilding, your powder should last years. If you see the powder developing a reddish tint, or giving off a foul odor, it is time to discard it.

Clumps in Powder Container

Q: I ordered some of your Accurate 1680 powder back about in December. I just now opened it … and it is full of clumps. My knowledge tells me that means moisture. Am I wrong? I just now broke the seal and it has been stored in a ammo can with desiccant packs around it and a dehumidifier running 14-16 hours a day. I can’t imagine this being my fault, if this does indicate moisture. I don’t know if the pink part on the label is suppose to be red or not, but it is definitely pink, so if it was red I am wondering if I was shipped an old container? I hope that this isn’t bad and I am stuck with it…

Lab Answer: All powder contains a certain amount of moisture. When the powder is stored or during shipping, it can go through temperature cycles. During the cycling, the moisture can be pulled to the surface and cause clumping. Clumping can also be caused by static electricity if too dry or the powder has limited graphite content. You can break up the clumps before metering and they shouldn’t be a problem. This will not affect the powder performance, so your product is fine. Accurate 1680 labels are designed in Pink. As a side note, specification for testing powder is at 70° F and 60% humidity.

Shelf Life and Packaging Dates

Q: Does powder ever get to old to use and what identifying marks does your company put on the canister for when it is made, You have helped me out a while ago when I asked about keeping my cowboy shooting under 950 fps and it works great less stress on the hand and the recoil is very minimum. — R.B.

Lab Answer: On one pound bottles, the number is on the corner in a silver box. If the powder was poured today, it would read 012815 followed by a lot number. The whole number would look something like 012815749. Eight pound bottles have a sticker on the bottom with an obvious date code. The lot number appears above the date.

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

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February 15th, 2020

Changes in Humidity Can Alter Powder Burn Rates — IMPORTANT

Tech Tip Norma Powder gunpowder moisture temperature humidity

Most shooters realize that significant changes in temperature will alter how powders perform. That’s why you want to keep your loaded ammo out of the hot sun, and keep rounds out of a hot chamber until you’re ready to fire. But there are other factors to be considered — HUMIDITY for one. This article explains why and how humidity can affect powder burn rates and performance.

We’ve all heard the old adage: “Keep your powder dry”. Well, tests by Norma have demonstrated that even normal environmental differences in humidity can affect the way powders burn, at least over the long term. In the Norma Reloading Manual, Sven-Eric Johansson, head of ballistics at Nexplo/Bofors, presents a very important discussion of water vapor absorption by powder. Johansson demonstrates that the same powder will burn at different rates depending on water content.

Powders Leave the Factory with 0.5 to 1.0% Water Content
Johansson explains that, as manufactured, most powders contain 0.5 to 1% of water by weight. (The relative humidity is “equilibrated” at 40-50% during the manufacturing process to maintain this 0.5-1% moisture content). Importantly, Johansson notes that powder exposed to moist air for a long time will absorb water, causing it to burn at a slower rate. On the other hand, long-term storage in a very dry environment reduces powder moisture content, so the powder burns at a faster rate. In addition, Johansson found that single-base powders are MORE sensitive to relative humidity than are double-base powders (which contain nitroglycerine).

Tests Show Burn Rates Vary with Water Content
In his review of the Norma Manual, Fred Barker notes: “Johansson gives twelve (eye-opening) plots of the velocities and pressures obtained on firing several popular cartridges with dehydrated, normal and hydrated Norma powders (from #200 to MRP). He also gives results on loaded .30-06 and .38 Special cartridges stored for 663 to 683 days in relative humidities of 20% and 86%. So Johansson’s advice is to keep powders tightly capped in their factory containers, and to minimize their exposure to dry or humid air.”

Confirming Johansson’s findings that storage conditions can alter burn rates, Barker observes: “I have about 10 pounds of WWII 4831 powder that has been stored in dry (about 20% RH) Colorado air for more than 60 years. It now burns about like IMR 3031.”

What does this teach us? First, all powders start out with a small, but chemically important, amount of water content. Second, a powder’s water content can change over time, depending on where and how the powder is stored. Third, the water content of your powder DOES make a difference in how it burns, particularly for single-base powders. For example, over a period of time, a powder used (and then recapped) in the hot, dry Southwest will probably behave differently than the same powder used in the humid Southeast.

Reloaders are advised to keep these things in mind. If you want to maintain your powders’ “as manufactured” burn rate, it is wise to head Johannson’s recommendation to keep your powders tightly capped when you’re not actually dispensing charges and avoid exposing your powder to very dry or very humid conditions. The Norma Reloading Manual is available from Amazon.com.

Real-World Example — “Dry” H4831sc Runs Hotter

Robert Whitley agrees that the burn rate of the powder varies with the humidity it absorbs. Robert writes: “I had an 8-lb. jug of H4831SC I kept in my detached garage (it can be humid there). 43.5-44.0 gr of this was superbly accurate with the 115 Bergers out of my 6mm Super X. I got tired of bringing it in and out of the garage to my house for reloading so I brought and kept the jug in my reloading room (a dehumidified room in my house) and after a few weeks I loaded up 43.5 gr, went to a match and it shot awful. I could not figure out what was going on until I put that load back over the chronograph and figured out it was going a good bit faster than before and the load was out of the “sweet spot” (42.5 – 43.0 gr was the max I could load and keep it accurate when it was stored in less humid air). I put the jug back in the garage for a few weeks and I now am back to loading 43.5 – 44.0 gr and it shoots great again. I have seen this with other powders too.”

If you have two jugs of the same powder, one kept in a room in your house and one somewhere else where it is drier or more humid, don’t expect the two jugs of the same lot of powder to chrono the same with the same charge weights unless and until they are both stored long enough in the same place to equalize again.

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February 18th, 2019

READ THIS — Powder Storage — How to Avoid Problems

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

SUMMARY: Powder can have a very long shelf life. You need to watch for changes in smell and color. A reddish tinge, almost like rust on the powder, is a bad sign, as is a foul odor, not to be confused with a normal chemical smell. Either of these signs indicate it is time to dispose of your powder by means other than shooting.

Ever wondered about the stability of the propellants in your reloading room? There are some important things you should know about powder storage, to ensure consistent powder performance and safety. On its website, Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders) published an informative Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.

Proper Powder Storage

Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.

Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.

CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)

In their original containers smokeless powder’s lifespan is quite long, even in your hot, arid climate, typically longer than the average handloader would need to store them. Stored safely in a garage or outbuilding, your powder should last years. If you see the powder developing a reddish tint, or giving off a foul odor, it is time to discard it.

Clumps in Powder Container

Q: I ordered some of your Accurate 1680 powder back about in December. I just now opened it … and it is full of clumps. My knowledge tells me that means moisture. Am I wrong? I just now broke the seal and it has been stored in a ammo can with desiccant packs around it and a dehumidifier running 14-16 hours a day. I can’t imagine this being my fault, if this does indicate moisture. I don’t know if the pink part on the label is suppose to be red or not, but it is definitely pink, so if it was red I am wondering if I was shipped an old container? I hope that this isn’t bad and I am stuck with it…

Lab Answer: All powder contains a certain amount of moisture. When the powder is stored or during shipping, it can go through temperature cycles. During the cycling, the moisture can be pulled to the surface and cause clumping. Clumping can also be caused by static electricity if too dry or the powder has limited graphite content. You can break up the clumps before metering and they shouldn’t be a problem. This will not affect the powder performance, so your product is fine. Accurate 1680 labels are designed in Pink. As a side note, specification for testing powder is at 70° F and 60% humidity.

(more…)

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August 7th, 2017

Fascinating Facts from Norma’s Ammo Academy

Norma web site Ammo Academy

If you haven’t visited the Norma website recently, you should click over to www.norma.cc/us. There you will find Norma’s Ammo Academy, a technical resource that provides information on Ballistics, Powder Storage, Barrel Wear, and Bullet Expansion. In addition, the Ammo Academy now links to Norma’s Reloading Data Center, where you’ll find loads for nearly 70 cartridge types including: .223 Rem, .22-250, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, 260 Rem, 6.5-284, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, .270 Win, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Mag and dozens more.

The Ammo Academy’s Ballistics section contains some fascinating technical facts:

stopwatch

  • After the trigger is pulled, it takes around 0.005 seconds before the firing pin reaches the primer.
  • From the firing of the primer it takes 0.0015-0.002 seconds until the bullet exits the muzzle.
  • When the bullet leaves the muzzle, the hot gases surround and overtake the bullet, continuing the acceleration for a few centimeters.
  • Because the barrel is always angled slightly upwards, the bullet’s flight starts about 3-5 cm below the line of sight.

Norma also offers some good advice about Powder Storage:

To maintain the product quality for as long as possible, you have to keep the powder in a suitable place under suitable conditions. Where possible, store the powder at a constant temperature, ideally between 12 and 15°C (54°F to 59°F), and a relative humidity of 40–50%. If the air is too dry, it will dry out the powder, which will cause the pressure to be higher, thus affecting performance. Also make sure that you close the powder container properly afterwards. Cartridges should be stored under the same ambient conditions to maintain their quality.

Norma web site Ammo Academy

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June 6th, 2015

Powder Storage Q & A — What Are Signs of Problems?

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders), publishes a Blog that covers all aspects of hand-loading and rifle maintenance. Recently the Western Powders Blog published a Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.

Proper Powder Storage

Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.

Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.

CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)

(more…)

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September 26th, 2014

Norma’s “Ammo Academy” Provides Valuable Information

If you haven’t visited the Norma website recently, you should click over to www.norma.cc/en/ (the ‘en’ is for English version). There you will find Norma’s “Ammo Academy”, a technical resource that provides information on: Ballistics, Powder Storage, Barrel Wear, and Bullet Expansion. In addition, the Ammo Academy now links to Norma’s Reloading Data Center, where you’ll find loads for nearly 70 cartridge types including: .223 Rem, .22-250, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, 260 Rem, 6.5-284, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, .270 Win, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Mag and dozens more.

Norma web site Ammo Academy

The Ammo Academy’s Ballistics section contains some fascinating technical facts:

stopwatch

  • After the trigger is pulled, it takes around 0.005 seconds before the firing pin reaches the primer.
  • From the firing of the primer it takes 0.0015-0.002 seconds until the bullet exits the muzzle.
  • When the bullet leaves the muzzle, the hot gases surround and overtake the bullet, continuing the acceleration for a few centimeters.
  • Because the barrel is always angled slightly upwards, the bullet’s flight starts about 3-5 cm below the line of sight.

Norma also offers some good advice about Powder and Cartridge Storage:

To maintain the product quality for as long as possible, you have to keep the powder in a suitable place under suitable conditions. Where possible, store the powder at a constant temperature, ideally between 12 and 15°C (54°F to 59°F), and a relative humidity of 40–50%. If the air is too dry, it will dry out the powder, which will cause the pressure to be higher, thus affecting performance. Also make sure that you close the powder container properly afterwards. Cartridges should be stored under the same ambient conditions to maintain their quality.

For more info on Norma products, CLICK HERE to access Norma’s Catalog Download Page.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome submissions from our readers.
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July 1st, 2011

Norma Adds ‘Ammo Academy’ Resource to Website

Norma has updated and enhanced its website at www.norma.cc/en/ (the ‘en’ is for English version). Among the many new site features is Norma’s “Ammo Academy”, a technical resource that provides information on: Ballistics, Powder Storage, Barrel Wear, and Bullet Expansion. In addition, the Ammo Academy now links to Norma’s Reloading Data Center, where you’ll find loads for nearly 70 cartridge types including: .223 Rem, .22-250, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, 260 Rem, 6.5-284, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, .270 Win, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Mag and dozens more.

Norma web site Ammo Academy

The Ammo Academy’s Ballistics section contains some fascinating technical facts:

stopwatch

  • After the trigger is pulled, it takes around 0.005 seconds before the firing pin reaches the primer.
  • From the firing of the primer it takes 0.0015-0.002 seconds until the bullet exits the muzzle.
  • When the bullet leaves the muzzle, the hot gases surround and overtake the bullet, continuing the acceleration for a few centimeters.
  • Because the barrel is always angled slightly upwards, the bullet’s flight starts about 3-5 cm below the line of sight.

Norma also offers some good advice about Powder and Cartridge Storage:

To maintain the product quality for as long as possible, you have to keep the powder in a suitable place under suitable conditions. Where possible, store the powder at a constant temperature, ideally between 12 and 15°C (54°F to 59°F), and a relative humidity of 40–50%. If the air is too dry, it will dry out the powder, which will cause the pressure to be higher, thus affecting performance. Also make sure that you close the powder container properly afterwards. Cartridges should be stored under the same ambient conditions to maintain their quality.

For more info on Norma products, CLICK HERE to access Norma’s Catalog Download Page.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome submissions from our readers.
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