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e-mishka

When does powder expire?

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I have some 5-6 year old jugs of Vihta Vouri N320, any idea how long its good for?

 

 

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It’s good til it isn’t.... if stored properly and not exposed to much moisture it’s pretty much almost lasts forever.

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Some powder from WWII still works well...  I have used some!  

 

Smell it and look at it.  If it doesn't burn your nose or look rusty, it is OK.  

 

Is it as good as it was when new?  I dunno...  

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BTW, I had one eight pounder of GI 8208 that deteriorated to the point of having rusty residue in it and became acrid-smelling.  Scattered it on the lawn for fertilizer.  

 

Deteriorated powder can become less potent, or can change burn rates - neither of which is good. 

 

Stored in reasonable conditions - no excessive heat or humidity - smokeless powder will probably outlive the original purchaser, and black powder is known to last 200 years!  

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48 minutes ago, e-mishka said:

I have some 5-6 year old jugs of Vihta Vouri N320, any idea how long its good for?

 

 

 

It's awful!  Forward it to me for "proper disposal"!  LOL!!!  

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Heat is the primary enemy.  Room temperature or a bit cooler generally works best.

 

World War II powders mostly depend on how well they were washed at the end of production.  Wartime rush sometimes resulted in a poor wash (rinse used to remove residual solvents), and can result in deterioration (acrid odor, red powder are bad).

 

 

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It's awful!  Forward it to me for "proper disposal"!  LOL!!!  

Sure ;)

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Check for funny smell, chrono a small batch just so you don't get burned. I've had powder for almost that long that is still totally fine since it's been inside, shut tight, and kept in an air conditioned room.

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Posted (edited)

last October, I emptied a N320 jug from 2011. Worked fine. I had that powder in my stash that I was protecting from hoarders... 😉

Edited by ChuckS
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I moved to VA in 1985 and put my reloading stuff in the attic of the new house.

 

Several years later (2005 or 2006) I ran across a bag with 4,000 primers and several cans of powder in a cabinet over in the corner.

 

IMR 4895, 3031, 4350, 4320, 4064, 4198.  Bullseye, Unique, H110, 2400, etc., etc.

 

That powder, some never opened, but most used out of to some extent, had been in the non-climate controlled attic for 20 years, or so.  I used up all the primers and all the powder except the IMR4350, 4320 and 4064.  All the pistol powder was used up.  Not a single failure to fire, not a single whoops/poof load from bad powder and some of it shot so well it got me to buy more of powders I'd dismissed in testing back in the early 80's (the H335 never did well in my M700 .223 Varmint Special, but gave me some excellent accuracy in the AR15's).

 

So, at least 20 years, and mine was kept in pretty poor condition.  Heat/humidity in central VA gets downright nasty in the summer.  Some days the heat index is over 100 F.  Winters are damp and cool/cold.  I've been keeping my powder/primers in my garage (also non-climate controlled) for the last 5 years or so.  It's over 110 F in there some summer afternoons.  Again, no problems so far.

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Smokeless powder doesn't "expire". It can go bad if stored in the wrong conditions, but otherwise will last for a long long time. I have cans of powder old enough to be in brown cardboard tubes (including a 4 lb keg of old Unique that's still sealed, kinda neat) that has been stored well; all of it that I've used was good as new. 

 

Like others said above, look for a weird smell and/or appearance, but if it looks and smells normal it should be fine. The advice on working up from a mild load with old powder is good regardless, partly because some powder formulations have changed over time. 

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A year or two ago, I "found" a container of N320 that I must have opened about 10 years ago. Worked just fine. It was kept in steady indoor temps.

 

Cheack out the caveats that others have posted.

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That short amount of time isn't something too worrisome. I stopped shooting/reloading in 1987 and started again a few years ago. I pulled the old Dillon 450 and and everything else out of the box under my workbench and the 3/4 LB of Unique, 1/2 LB of 2400 and primers went bang every time.

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