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Thread: Powder disposal

  1. #1

    Powder disposal

    A friend of mine....had some unknown powder from stripped down rounds to get rid of. About a half pound.
    After consulting the oracles on SD he spread a bit on the lawn but had second thoughts.
    Very gingerly put a match to a half ounce or so. Burned steadily. Happy days.
    Put rest in a heap and put a match to it.
    Whats interesting is that in larger quantities, it really gets going, doesn't it?
    Luckily its the side of the shed the wife can't see has got a bit scorched.
    Anyway, it needed a lick of paint.
    I never make the same mistake twice.

    I make it five or six times.

    Just to be sure.


  2. #2
    I save mine up from old reloads or waste powder I have an old BBQ so its safe and sound in small amounts ! to watch the bright light's out of the flu used to use brick frogs but this is safer

  3. #3
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    Spread it thinly on the lawn like you would put "Shake n'Vac" on the carpet. Leave the weather to do the rest. Do not pour in a pile and light it. That is dangerous! Really!

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by enfieldspares View Post
    Spread it thinly on the lawn like you would put "Shake n'Vac" on the carpet. Leave the weather to do the rest. Do not pour in a pile and light it. That is dangerous! Really!
    Another one for this method, tho, I use it on the house plants...

    tried the lighting it process, poured it along the top of a wall, and left a tiny wee pile at the end, thought it would be like something out of Indianna Jones.....NOPE, I had to relight it three times, went off like a damp squib...

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by enfieldspares View Post
    Spread it thinly on the lawn like you would put "Shake n'Vac" on the carpet. Leave the weather to do the rest. Do not pour in a pile and light it. That is dangerous! Really!
    Really?
    Powder is actually very slow burning when not contained. I'm sure we've all created a 'magic genie' in our youth? Sensible amounts in a safe area downwind and it's gone! Some powders are quite toxic.
    Surely spreading them about the lawn would be a bad idea? Pets, slugs, hedgehogs? What's best for the environment? It was designed to be burnt, so why not burn it in a safe manner?
    MS

  6. #6
    Designed a house name plate from old piece of timber, and could not decide on how to get the carved lettering to stand out, opted for a sprinkle of powder into the carved lettering & lit it, voila, very effective if i do say so myself, sadly sold the house but pleased to see it's still at the entrance.

  7. #7
    With nitrocellulose propellant manufacture being a continuous process industry and production ramped up enormously during wars, when hostilities cease, the authorities end up with large unwanted quantities in the ammunition production pipelines and still coming out of explosives factories before their lines are shut down. This was a huge problem after WW1 in particular and thousands of tons of the stuff sat in warheouses around the world. It also applies to things like stores of guncotton and naval gun propellants which go out of date and have to be destroyed, not nearly so much nowadays as in the days of big gun navies.

    Until not that long ago, large quantities of such heavier stuff went by rail to Shoeburyness in Essex for taking out to sea and dumping - I doubt if that's allowed now.

    After WW1 and to a lesser extent the last war, arsenal staff had to find ways of disposing of rifle, cannon and artillery propellants. Nowadays, much can be recycled into making new powder, this being in the slurry and still method developed to produce ball powders by Winchester Western in the 1930s, one of its great pluses. Before that in the 1920s American ordnance staff had to 'lose' huge amounts and it was found through experiment that the only practical way was by burning it. Experiments were carried out to find safe maximum weights for the fires. Ultimately huge amounts were disposed of by creating hundreds of heaps, each several pounds weight, a set distance apart on isolated empty ground and workmen manually firing each individually with a taper on a long pole. I remember seeing a photograph of one such burning ground on the site of a US government ammunition factory. So .... burning a few ounces outside of the house hardly carries major risks if basic safety precautions are applied.

    I have read, but don't know if it's accurate, that many modern smokeless powders don't break down easily or quickly when spread on the garden and they are certainly environmentally unfriendly. I did try to get rid of some old ball powder this way some years back spreading it very thinly over part of our back lawn. It did the grass no good at all, and my other half was extremely critical, ordering me never to repeat 'that stupid stunt'.

  8. #8
    An American gun magazine did a piece on bulk storage of powder a few years ago and part of the research was to ignite larger and larger quantities to see what the critical mass for propellant was.
    It seems to be quite a lot, from memory (and don't try this out) about 200 litres or 120lbs. The greater the mass the hotter the burn till eventually it explodes.
    Very like high explosives (which I know much more about). The recommended way to dispose of explosives is small lot (<crit mass) combustion.

  9. #9
    I guess that was my 'lesson learned'. A wee bit burns fine and slow, but you soon get to the point where the heat build up increases the burn rate dramatically.
    In future, I'll burn lots of wee piles and not one big pile.
    And further away from the shed.
    I never make the same mistake twice.

    I make it five or six times.

    Just to be sure.


  10. #10
    Jsut dont do it with black powder Filums have got it wrong as a slow burning trail

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