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Dusty Devil Dale

Keeping your powder dry

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In a 50+ year old reloading instruction manual that came with a Lee loading press, years ago, I found a short paragraph about air humidity.   It infers that loading ammo with either BP or smokeless powder under very humid or rainy conditions can entrap air moisture, which then later condenses in the sealed cartridges in cool temperatures, "potentially" causing squibs and misfires.  The author recommended warming the brass by hanging a (presume incandescent) light bulb over the case dispenser.  The idea apparently being that the warmth would help dissipate air moisture, prior to seating/crimping the rounds.   

 

I had never heard of this before.  It doesn't seem like very much moisture could be introduced with such tiny amounts of air, particularly with BP. 

 

Has anybody heard of this before? 

Do any of you down in the humid southeast have issues or concerns about humidity? 

Does anyone pre-warm their brass, and if so, how much?  (sounds like it could be risky with BP)

Is it worth considering? 

Any thoughts? 

 

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Thousands of Colt 45's reloaded in a basement humidity of 70 - zero squibs or miss fires

Now if your reloading in the garage during a thunder storm - Possible

Edited by John Boy
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i have never had the issue either , but i reload in the house in climate controlled conditions and store my product there as well , i had thought to load in my garage - detached , no climate control but it just seemed a recipe for problems so i never went there , if i ever climate control the garage i might think it again , 

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I reload inside my home in a spare bedroom, and store the finished cartridges inside the house at the same temperature, so I have never experienced problems with condensation inside any cartridge. Or percussion gun.

 

The worst case scenario would be reloading outdoors in 100% relative humidity during a rainstorm, then taking the cartridges into sub-zero temperatures. I have sub-zero interest in conducting that experiment.  I await your results eagerly.  

 

:)

 

 

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I would be much more concerned about leaving powder exposed to a high-humidity atmosphere for a week or two between loading sessions, than worrying about a case with a little moist air in it when powder is being dispensed!   

 

Good luck, GJ

 

BUT - don't take cold brass into a warm humid area to load immediately.  That COULD gather a little condensation in and on the cases.

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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YES!  If  I had to worry about something, I guess the thing I’d worry about is leaving powder in the reloading press powder dispenser hopper for more than a day or so.   But even then, in most regions of the US, the warning on this old “instruction” sheet sounds like my grandmother scolding and warning me to keep my coat buttoned up all the way and to wear my gloves and rubber overboots.  “And, keep that scarf around your neck, too!”  dammit!!   >:-(

 

Cat Brules

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Concensus seems to be not to worry about this.  I agree, but I just thought I'd share what I read.  It seems to me that moisture is far more likely to be picked up while pouring powder into a dispenser in humid conditions, and from following condensation in the reclosed containers - - both the dispenser tube and the reclosed original powder container-- especially if temperature changes occur.

Even then, it seems to me to be a pretty minimal risk.   

 

I wonder how much moisture it really takes to affect burn rate of smokeless or BP.  Anyone have any info? 

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Bet Hodgdon and Alliant have a real good idea.....that is why one of the last steps in producing smokeless powder is a drying step.

;)

 

In fact, here is a 10 year old note on this very subject from experiments done by the chief ballistican at Bofors (the Swedish powder company):

 

http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2008/09/tech-tip-humidity-can-change-powder-burn-rates/

 

It is NOT the TRANSFER of powder into a hopper or case that lets much water in.  It is the LONG TERM STORAGE in a container that is exposed to the atmosphere.

 

I DO know from personal experience and those of some other local shooters that a humid summer can contaminate Pyrodex while loaded in shotshells with enough moisture from the air to affect the power of plastic hulled shotshells BADLY, and even lead to the powder BURNING instead of EXPLODING, leading to "flaming squibs" where the plastic hull is literally ignited but not providing enough pressure to eject the shot and wad at normal velocity.    Not standing water, which old paper shells were badly affected by, but just moisture from 80% relative humidity atmosphere, leaking that moisture around wads in the shells.  Only happened one summer here in the high desert, but it happened to several shooters and myself at an August (wet season) NM state match.  Never seen that with any other substitute, or real Black, or smokeless.  So, what was the container that let in the moisture?  The crimp opening of the shotshells!  Keeping some of the same shotshell ammo in closed ammo cans with desiccant packets - prevented further problems.   So did changing from Pyrodex to real Black.

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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I live in MS on the Gulf Coast, so humidity can be a concern.  I load in my shop behind my house, so in the summer I keep the A/C on.  In the winter I keep a dehumidifier running.  I also keep desiccant packs in all my bottles of powder.  Doing all that even with our 100% humidity in the summer I've never had an issue with powder or primers.

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I too, take the little desiccant packs from pill bottles and such and keep them in the top of my powder hopper and always keep the lid on (just as I would the lid on the powder canister)... no probs.

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