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
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 re-loaders.
Storage of Smokless Powder for Reloading at Home
Approved container with original labels allows proper identification.
||Prolong shelf life, maintain quality, reduces exposure to open flame/heat.|
||Prolong shelf life, maintain quality|
||Separates ignition source from flammable material|
Prolong shelf life, maintain quality
||Unsafe practice, minimize hazards|
||Powder in metal container can be explosive|
||Degraded or unknown powders|
||Minimize hazards, good work practice|
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 fouling).
ref: Smokeless 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.
ref: Storage Conditions
HANDLING & STORAGE PRECAUTIONS
1.For handling and storage see CFR 1920.109
2.This product may react with acids, oxidizing agents, alkalizes or amines (organic) and should not be stored near such materials.
3.Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light.
4.Recommended storage conditions – 21 deg C (70 deg F), 50% relative humidity.
5.Keep away from heat, sparks and open flame.
6.Store in a cool, dry place.
7.Do not store smokeless powder in the same area with solvents, flammable gases or highly combustible materials.
8.Must be stored in original DOT approved containers or shipping containers.
9.Do not smoke in areas where powder is stored or used. (50 feet minimum distance required).
10.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
ref: Smokeless Powder & Primer Storage
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.
1.Do not store where it will be exposed to the sun’s rays.
2.Avoid storage in areas where mechanical or electrical equipment is in operation.
3.Restrict from the storage areas heat or sparks which may result from improper, defective or overloaded electrical circuits.
4.DO NOT STORE IN THE SAME AREA WITH SOLVENTS, FLAMMABLE GASES OR HIGHLY COMBUSTIBLE MATERIALS.
5.STORE ONLY IN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION APPROVED CONTAINERS.
6.Do not transfer from an approved container into one which is not approved.
7.DO NOT SMOKE IN AREAS WHERE POWDER IS STORED OR USED. Place appropriate “No Smoking” signs in these areas.
8.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.
9.DO NOT KEEP OLD OR SALVAGED POWDERS. Check old product for deterioration regularly. Destroy deteriorated powders immediately.
10.OBEY ALL REGULATIONS REGARDING QUANTITY AND METHODS OF STORING.
11.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.
12.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.
ref: Recom for Storage
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 children.”
– “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 2005-08-27
ref: Smokeless Powder & Primer Storage
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.
ref: Safe Storage
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.
Do not store in the same area with other flammable materials.
Do not store within the reach of children.
Store only in manufacturer approved containers.
ref: Black Powder Handling
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 children.
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 fire.
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!
ref: Handling Precaution
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. Richard
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. Richard
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 own.