Storage & Handling of Smokeless Powder
(for Reloading Ammunition)
If you reload ammunition you probably have a small
quantity of bulk smokeless powder (gun powder) in your home.
It is essential that know and use safe handling and storage
procedures for the safety of your household and
neighborhood. The following is "my take" on the information
that I researched on the proper handling and storage of
it before I started reloading ammunition in my
home. Don't take this as legal or 100% factual information
(because it was mostly pieced together from various sources
from the internet). I hope this helps some future
STORAGE OF SMOKELESS POWDER
FOR RELOADING AT HOME
|Store in original
container or approved shipping container. Do not
transfer from an approved container into one
which is not approved
Approved container with original labels allows
capped when not using
||Prolong shelf life,
maintain quality, reduces exposure to open
|Store in a
ventilated, cool, dry place. Recommended storage
conditions - 70 deg F, 50% relative humidity
||Prolong shelf life,
|Don't store powder
and primers together
source from flammable material
|Limit quantity to
about 1 lb.
|Minimize exposure to
||Prolong shelf life,
|Do not smoke in
areas where powder is stored or used.
|Do not store in
areas near heat sources, sparks, open flame,
explosives, solvents, combustible materials, where
mechanical or electrical equipment is in operation
or near electrical outlets or equipment.
|Do not purchase or
accept powder that is not in its original, factory
|Do not mix
with any other type or batch of gunpowder.
|Store as far away
from living and sleeping areas; and especially
stairways or other escape routes if possible
|Do not store in
metal ammo cans or metal containers
||Powder in metal
container can be explosive
|Do not keep old or
||Degraded or unknown
|Keep out of reach of
Keep storage areas clean. Clean up spillage promptly
good work practice
|Do not store in same
room as food, drink
Your local gun shop or sporting goods store may be able
to inform you about local requirements for safe and legal
smokeless powder storage and handling. Also, read and follow
the manufacturers Safety and Handling Instructions on the
packaging. Some cities may have specific rules regarding
storage of gun powder. Check out your local ordinances.
What is Smokeless Powder?
The name given to a number of
propellants used in firearms and artillery which produce
negligible smoke when fired, unlike the older gunpowder
(black powder) which they replaced" ... "Despite its name
it is actually not completely smoke-free and
does not take the form of a true powder. It
allowed the development of modern semi- and fully automatic
firearms. Burnt black powder leaves a thick, heavy fouling
which is both hygroscopic and corrosive. Smokeless powder
fouling exhibits none of these properties. This makes an autoloading firearm with many moving parts feasible (which
would otherwise jam or seize under heavy black powder
Store in well ventilated area. Store in cool place. Keep
container tightly closed. Do not store with other
explosives. Store in accordance with National Fire
Protection Assoc. regulations. Store in accordance with
Federal Regulations. Do not store or consume food, drink, or
tobacco in areas where they may become contaminated with
this material. Store in approved type magazine.
Handling & Storage Precautions
For handling and storage see CFR 1920.109
This product may react with acids, oxidizing agents,
alkalizes or amines (organic) and should not be stored
near such materials.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet
Recommended storage conditions - 21 deg C (70 deg F),
50% relative humidity.
Keep away from heat, sparks and open flame.
Store in a cool, dry place.
Do not store smokeless powder in the same area with
solvents, flammable gases or highly combustible
Must be stored in original DOT approved containers or
Do not smoke in areas where powder is stored or used.
(50 feet minimum distance required).
Do not keep old or salvaged powders. Check it for deterioration regularly. Destroy
deteriorated powders immediately.
Smokeless Powder & Primer Storage
By Marshall Stanton on 2005-08-27
Recommendations for Storage
STORE IN A COOL, DRY PLACE.
Be sure the storage area selected is free from any
possible sources of excess heat and is isolated from
open flame, furnaces, hot water heaters, etc.
Do not store where it will be
exposed to the sun's rays.
Avoid storage in areas where mechanical or electrical
equipment is in operation.
Restrict from the storage areas heat or sparks which
may result from improper, defective or overloaded
DO NOT STORE IN THE SAME AREA WITH SOLVENTS,
FLAMMABLE GASES OR HIGHLY COMBUSTIBLE MATERIALS.
STORE ONLY IN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION APPROVED
Do not transfer from an approved container
into one which is not approved.
DO NOT SMOKE IN AREAS WHERE POWDER IS STORED OR USED.
Place appropriate "No Smoking" signs in these areas.
DO NOT SUBJECT THE STORAGE CABINETS TO CLOSE
CONFINEMENT. STORAGE CABINETS SHOULD BE CONSTRUCTED OF
INSULATING MATERIALS AND WITH A WEAK WALL SEAMS OR
JOINTS TO PROVIDE AN EASY MEANS OF SELF-VENTING.
DO NOT KEEP OLD OR SALVAGED POWDERS. Check old
product for deterioration regularly. Destroy
deteriorated powders immediately.
OBEY ALL REGULATIONS REGARDING QUANTITY AND METHODS
Do not store all your powders in one place. If you
can, maintain separate storage locations. Many small
containers are safer than one or more large containers.
KEEP YOUR STORAGE AND USE AREA CLEAN. Clean up spills promptly. Make sure the surrounding area
is free of trash or other readily combustible materials.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STORAGE
The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute
(SAAMI) is an association of the nation's leading
manufacturers of firearms, ammunition and components.
Safe Storage of Propellant Powders
- "Proper storage of canister powders involves not only
the temperature and humidity at which powders are stored,
but to insure that those powders are maintained in their
original DOT approved packaging and shipping containers.
These containers are specifically designed to reduce the
hazards of violent explosion in the event that these
canisters are exposed to either fire or high temperatures.
Too, so long as the powders are in their original packaging,
labeling and identifying powders doesnâ€™t become and issue."
- "In addition to the fire-related issues regarding
smokeless powder storage, are the safety issues with
- "improper storage can be considered child endangerment,
and result in some really ugly legal issues if the wrong
governmental agencies become involved."
- "In the event of a fire, this proper storage can become a
literal life and death issue, not only for the occupants of
the structure, but for those emergency personnel who come to
assist during the event."
- "First and foremost, I would not suggest storing in metal
ammo cans or any other non-OEM powder can."
- "Location is another thing to consider. Store them as far
away from living and sleeping areas; and especially
stairways or other escape routes if possible."
- "13-3.1 Quantities of smokeless propellants not exceeding
25 lb (11.3 kg), in shipping containers approved by the U.S.
Department of Transportation, shall be permitted to be
transported in a private vehicle."
- "13-3.7 Smokeless propellants intended for personal use in
quantities not exceeding 20 lb (9.1 kg) shall be permitted
to be stored in original containers in residences.
Quantities exceeding 20 lb (9.1 kg), but not exceeding 50 lb
(22.7 kg), shall be permitted to be stored in residences
where kept in a wooden box or cabinet having walls of at
least 1 in. (25.4 mm) nominal thickness"
The above information is abstracted from;
Smokeless Powder & Primer Storage :: By Marshall Stanton on
The laws governing storage nationally state that if
you're going to store over 20 lbs of powder for your
personal use in a residence, you need a wooden box or
cabinet with a nominal thickness of no less than 1 inch.
Storing more than 50 lbs in your residence is in violation
of the law. Is the requirement for wood a precaution against sparks?
The concept of the box is that it should not be able to
withstand much pressure before it opens; that's why a wooden
box is desirable. If there is a fire, what does it matter if
the box burns or not? The idea is that, if there is a fire,
the storage box won't become a bomb.
Black Powder Handling, Storage and Safety Precautions
Handling and Storage Precautions:
Avoid impact, friction, heat, sparks and open flame.
Never smoke while handling.
Never handle or use black powder after drinking alcohol or
using mind-altering drugs.
Keep containers tightly closed when not in use.
Do not mix with any other type of gunpowder.
Do not purchase or accept black powder that is not in its
original, factory sealed container.
Do not dispense directly from the canister,
flask or horn into the firearm.
Do not dispense
substantial amounts in close
proximity to the firearm.
Learn and obey all laws and regulations regarding quantities
of explosive material and methods of storage.
store in the same area with other
Do not store within the reach of children.
Store only in manufacturer approved containers.
Handling Precautions (Black Powder)
Handle with care. Avoid impact, friction, heat, sparks
and open flame. Prevent contact with smoking material. Keep
containers tightly closed when not in use. Clean up any
spillage. Use brush and dustpan. Keep away from
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Do not mix with a powder of any other type.
Do not purchase or accept any GOEX black powder not in its
original container, factory sealed..
Do not dispense directly from the canister into
firearm. Do not dispense a substantial amount of powder in
close proximity to the firearm.
STORAGE PRECAUTIONS: Always store in a cool, dry place. Obey
all laws and regulations regarding quantities of explosive
material and methods of storage.
Do not store in the same area with highly combustible
materials. Do not store within reach of children. Store only
in GOEX-approved containers.
DISPOSAL: If disposal is necessary, black powder must be
disposed of in accordance with all local, state, federal
laws and regulations. Consult the manufacturer for more
details on disposal. Do not dispose of the container into a
WARNING! EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE AND EXPLOSIVE! FIRE OR
EXPLOSION CAN CAUSE SERIOUS BODILY INJURY OR DEATH! KEEP OUT
OF REACH OF CHILDREN! KEEP AWAY FROM HEAT, SPARKS AND OPEN
FLAME! AVOID IMPACT AND FRICTION!
Feedback & Comments
March 26, 2013
Message: Tanner, I like your new site - just found it on a search and link
through the old Reloading site. I was trying to respond to the paragraph on
handling black powder (specifically, why in the world would you need to wash
your hands after handling - it's not poisonous) but I discovered the
feedback link doesn't work. Wanted to be sure you were aware of this.
Response - Richard
Thanks for the heads up. I have been having a lot of problem with spam
through my feedback pages and I have had to disable some of the links. I
haven't found a suitable solution yet.
The "washing hands" came from the referenced manufacturer's website
regarding their handling precautions of black powder.
Other manufacturer's sites have the same precaution.
I'm not sure what the specific reason is.
It might be a "cover your ass" statement, or just a good house keeping rule
or maybe they don't want you to handle black powder, then later light up a
cigarette and have your hands catch on fire from the residue.
I vote for the last one.
Reply - I was just curious. Over the course of my life I've
worked with hundreds of pounds of black powder in fireworks, and while there
are a lot of things we use that definitely deserve a "hands off", black
powder is not one of them. I wouldn't want to eat the stuff, but all three
components were formerly common on the self-serve shelves at pharmacies.
Charcoal still is recommended for digestive upsets and in medicines to treat
accidental ingestion of some toxins. Sulfur was formerly used as a spring
tonic (still is some places, according to my sources) and nitrate is still
used in some dental preparations.
You'd have to really cake it on to worry about igniting your hands.
Maybe they meant to preserve your clothes? It certainly can do a number on
them, especially the uncoated stuff we use in pyrotechnics. All the sporting
grade powder is "glazed" by coating with graphite, which gives it that
silvery look and smooth polished feel. What we use for fireworks isn't
coated; it creates a lot of dust, and leaves charcoal stains very easily.
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 11:09 AM
Recommended storage for smokeless powder is wood cabinets which are also
partitioned off with 1" thick plywood. how much do these cabinets cost?
Response - Mike
Sorry it took so long to respond.
I don't know about the cost or where you can find complete cabinets but it
looks like you can find suitable wooden crates on Ebay for anywhere from
$10-$50. Go to Ebay and search for "wood crate", "wooden wine crate" or
"wood ammo box". You may have to email the seller and ask about the
thickness, but you can probably find what you need. Or you can make your
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