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Discussion Starter #1
Are there any words of wisdom as far as safely handling and storing powder? I know this is probably unlikely, but can it be ignited by a static charge? If an entire pound of it ignites in a plastic container, what exactly happens?
 

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Don't know what other people do, but I store my powder in a large military green ammo canister. This ammo box is air tight and prevents moisture and contaminates from entering the can. I also store an HH48 desicant block in the can for added protection. Also the powder is protected from sparks or other sources of ignition.

Regarding powder burning inside a plastic container, not sure about that one :confused:
 

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powder only explodes when pressurized (like in the chamber of a gun). It would just burn quickly.
Just leave the powder in the original can and if you live somewhere humid, maybe throw in a packet of desiccant.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Don't know what other people do, but I store my powder in a large military green ammo canister. This ammo box is air tight and prevents moisture and contaminates from entering the can. I also store an HH48 desicant block in the can for added protection. Also the powder is protected from sparks or other sources of ignition.

Regarding powder burning inside a plastic container, not sure about that one :confused:
I Googled HH48 but couldn't get any hits. Where can I get that?
 

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Any air conditioning supply store. The HH48 is a 48 cubic inch desicant block used in large refrigeration applications. They are designed to remove moisture from refrigerant as the refrigerant passed through the filter / drire. You will notice that most residentail units also have these driers installed on the outdoor condensing unit (usually a round filter soldered into the liquid line), but are very small in comparison, and are housed in a metal canister.
The 48 blocks are raw desicant in block form, which is great for "our" intended use.

I happen to be in the refrigeration business and have access to these filters :).
The cost is around 15.00 and they have the ability to absorb up to 18 drops of water (which is a great deal of vapor). Every 30 days, simply bake @ 350 deg F for about 30 min and they are fully recharged (hopefully).

They work great for powder storage, gun safes and any other application that requires the removal of moisture.

Common manufactures: Sporlan, Alco

Regards

Dog
 

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Sig_Dude,
I am a process safety engineer and in my job I deal with fires and explosions in the industrial environment. I also design explosion protection and venting systems for large dust handling equipment.

Yes, an explosion is possible by an electrostatic discharge. The charge is generated when two materials are in relative motion to each other and they make and then break contact. This would happen during the "pouring from container to container" in our case.

A charge may also be generated if electrically isolated conductive objects come in contact with, or are near other charged objects. This is known as inductive charging. Static electricity is typically high voltage, low current (micro-amps), the energy is measured in milli-Joules.

An isolated conductor or a non-conductor accumulates a sufficient amount of charge, and approached by a conductive object at a lower energy state, there will be a spark. If the spark has sufficient energy and there is an explosive atmosphere present, (particle size small enough AND dispersed) then an explosion may occur.

Keep in mind "atmosphere" with powders dispersion, is key; no cloud of dust/particles.

Combustible dusts may require as little as 1 mJ of discharge energy for spark ignition. The potential difference must be around 1500 volts to generate an ignition spark. The spark discharge from a person can be as high as 15 mJ just from walking across carpet on a very low humidity day!

Long story short - make contact with containers when pouring, but in reality the volume we deal with and the granulation size of the powder would most likely NOT provide the required dispersion, to create dusting required to support electrostatic induced combustion.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yikes.

Sig_Dude,
I am a process safety engineer and in my job I deal with fires and explosions in the industrial environment. I also design explosion protection and venting systems for large dust handling equipment.

Yes, an explosion is possible by an electrostatic discharge. The charge is generated when two materials are in relative motion to each other and they make and then break contact. This would happen during the "pouring from container to container" in our case.

A charge may also be generated if electrically isolated conductive objects come in contact with, or are near other charged objects. This is known as inductive charging. Static electricity is typically high voltage, low current (micro-amps), the energy is measured in milli-Joules.

An isolated conductor or a non-conductor accumulates a sufficient amount of charge, and approached by a conductive object at a lower energy state, there will be a spark. If the spark has sufficient energy and there is an explosive atmosphere present, (particle size small enough AND dispersed) then an explosion may occur.

Keep in mind "atmosphere" with powders dispersion, is key; no cloud of dust/particles.

Combustible dusts may require as little as 1 mJ of discharge energy for spark ignition. The potential difference must be around 1500 volts to generate an ignition spark. The spark discharge from a person can be as high as 15 mJ just from walking across carpet on a very low humidity day!

Long story short - make contact with containers when pouring, but in reality the volume we deal with and the granulation size of the powder would most likely NOT provide the required dispersion, to create dusting required to support electrostatic induced combustion.
 

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Ok
Once again. Smokeless powder is not an explosive.
The plastic container that the manufacturer packages the smokeless powder in is specially designed to give way in the event of a fire and allow the powder to conflagrate in the event it is ignited.
Now lets say that you are smoking a cigarette and open the lid to the powder hoper to see how much is in there and an ember from the cigarette falls in.
Well it could flash up in your face and burn you.
It can burn real hot but actually doesn't burn very cleanly or efficiently when burned out it the open. It really takes some pressure to get it to go the way it is suppose to.
So yes it can burn, it can burn your house down. But it doesn't explode when left in the containers used by the manufacture for retail packaging. It just stays low order.

PS
Black powder is an explosive.
 

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Don't know what other people do, but I store my powder in a large military green ammo canister. This ammo box is air tight and prevents moisture and contaminates from entering the can.
Not a very good idea.
You have done the one thing that CAN create an 'explosion', confine the powder.
It would still not be a real high explosive type event, but a pressure bursting event.

Powder should be stored in a container with at least one 'weak wall' to allow venting before the pressure can rise significantly.

Smokeless powder is also not especially hydroscopic.
Normal residential interior humidity is not going to cause much of a problem.

The containers smokeless is packaged in are designed to rupture at relatively low pressure.

Smokeless is also graphite coated to prevent the buildup of static and the creation of sparks that could lead to ignition.
 

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I leave my powder in the original container and keep it in a cabinet in the garage.
 

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What about all the people that say you should only keep powder containers in a wood box? What's wrong with storing in another plastic container (i.e. plastic storage unit)?
 

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What about all the people that say you should only keep powder containers in a wood box? QUOTE]

That's a new one on me.
Yeah... those are called powder lockers. Lots of the old reloading books make mention of storing all of your powder containers in a wooden powder locker.

Never understood that one either... if you had a fire, wouldn't the wood just be more fuel for a fire? How much protection from the powder burning would charred wood be? :biglaugh:
 

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I keep mine in a 2 door 6' high Rubbermaid cabinet.:biglaugh:
 

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I would not store it in a tightly enclosed steel container of any type. If the powder should ignite you want the gas pressure to release to the atmosphere and not in a tightly enclosed space. The original containers are designed to do this. The last thing I want is the released gas to build enough pressure to rupture a steel container. It is not my desire to build a pipe bomb in my home. I store my powder and primers on separate wooden shelves in the original containers right above the floor where the temperature stays fairly cool and constant.
 

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I store my powder in tiny brass containers with a piece of lead or copper over the top to keep it from spilling out.
 

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Guys,
I was answering the question " of static electricity causing an explosion of powder " don't let my previous reply throw folks off the deep end!

I'm currently (in my job) designing explosion suppression and venting systems for (3) different clients. This is my work.

We, as reloaders do NOT have suspension of dust (very small particles in air). We pour granules into a small hopper. Even with granules and extruded particles it won't happen, with fines (dust) yes.

An example, I used as a teaching aid was an apparatus we referred to as an explosimeter. This was a lexan tube 2-inches in diameter and about 12-inches tall. At the bottom was a squeeze bulb with a chamber to place a 1/4 tsp of powder. In the lexan tube we had a filament (like a light bulb). Atop the little unit was a flange with a hole the same size as the ID of the tube. We used a Post-It pad of paper in the flange as a "rupture disk". Turn on the juice, the filament gets red hot, place a powder in the chamber, squeeze the bulb which shoots the powder and air into the tube across the filament. Immediate (small scale) explosion!!
I placed a burning post-it on the ceiling one day using a barbeque seasoning for potato chips.
Baking powder, common flour, paper dust, even powdered sugar, and 99+% of organics will explode under the right conditions.

I work mostly in the paper industry, think paper towels, toilet paper, this fibrous dust explodes, as does most anything grown.

Most damage to industrial facilities is "unconfined explosions" so the comment of "confined" well, ... that dog don't hunt ... happy to discuss further, but I think this is getting off-topic. You see the initial explosion creates a pressure wave disrupting settled dust on beams, horizontal surfaces (due to poor house cleaning). These become suspended in the air with the ignition source already there a secondary explosion destroys the building, and personnel.

Again, this is NOT a reloaders concern, unless you decide to fluidize powder from a storage container to the hopper by means of a blower and exhaust the air via a dust collector, then we'll talk ...............

I'd be happy to discuss anymore "off-line" as I feel - the topic has wandered.
Don
 

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A man I considered a friend died in a powder flare from reloading powders.

A man I considered a friend died in a powder flare from reloading powders. Sadly as a dealer specializing in reloading - Keg of Powder in Halfday Illinois - Don would break bulk and sell quantities of powder in customer furnished plastic containers. One day he was doing that when something went wrong.

Witnesses who were far enough away to survive said it was like a piece of the sun shining out of the powder room - not through the window but in the room.

Eventually the whole stripmall block was destroyed.

Copies of the model fire code are commonly bound in reloading manuals including some of the European powder makers in their English language books. Available free on the web with suggestions for storing reloading powder and often the law in many places that have adopted the model code in some form.

Toward the Bullseye end of the burning rates it's not so hard to get an explosion - the Mad Bomber in NYC of many years ago scavenged gun powder from .22 rimfire ammunition to make his bombs.
 
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