Generally, propellants used in sporting arms
cartridges will not explode or detonate when ignited. Burning smokeless
propellants do not generate the shock waves produced by an explosive. Unlike
ignited smokeless propellants, the results of an explosive defies the adequate
venting of shock waves even when it occurs in the open.
Ignited stored powder can raise pressure within the storage area, thus there are specific requirements for keeping powder on hand. The first of these is never to transfer any propellant from its original container, which is designed to burst or partially open at a very low pressure. Some containers will simply have their cap pushed off if the contents are ignited. This will then allow for all the gasses to be vented from the container. (keeping powder in the original container is also essential for the proper identification of the propellant).
Ignited powder will continue to burn until it is completely consumed. Therefore, stored propellants should be kept away from any source of ignition.It is imperative that the storage container have one or more weak walls. These will open out at very low pressure to vent gasses before they can cause damage in case of unintended ignition. Without this built-in protection, a strong enclosure could burst with considerable force possibly causing property damage or bodily injury.
Other storage cabinet recommendations include construction with heat resistant fire insulating materials. The cabinet should be sufficiently large to adequately vent gasses if a container were inadvertently ignited.
Storage cabinets are often made of 1" thick wood with one or more walls designed to open outward, or blow free at very low pressure. They should be many times larger than necessary to store the minimum quantities of powder.
Do not store propellants in the same area with solvents, flammable gasses, primers, or any highly combustible materials. Smoking should never be allowed in the storage areas or while handling and using powder.
Many municipalities use the National Fire Protection Agency's publication NFPA 495 as law. It, in part, states that smokeless powders intended for individual use shall not exceed 20 pounds unless stored in a wooden cabinet or box with the walls of at least 1" nominal thickness. Even then the storage quantity shall never exceed 50 pounds.
Spilled powder should never be picked up with a vacuum cleaner. Use only a brush and pan and dispose of the powder in a safe manner.
The nitroglycerin of double base powder can be absorbed through the skin, by breathing vapors, or by ingesting. Symptoms can include headaches. The following precautions must be observed when handling double base powders. In case of accidental ingestion induce vomiting and immediately call a physician. Prevent contact with food, chewing material and smoking material. Ensure adequate ventilation during handling and reloading procedures. Wash hands thoroughly after handling. Follow specific manufacturers precautions.
A bulletin is available from SAAMI entitled "Sporting Ammunition Primers: Properties, Handling, and Storage For Handloading". Every reloader should acquire a copy from:
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