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Mixed up powder?


Jack Spade
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I bought a half full jug of clays powder from a cowboy who was retiring from the game.  He said it was the only smokeless powder he used.  He also shot black powder.   I am in the process of loading 38 specials and using clays.  I finished the 1 pound can I was working on so I grabbed the half full 8 pounder and poured some in my powder measure.  I immediately noticed it looked black where clays has a slightly green color to it.  Upon looking closer it appears there are what look like donuts of trailboss powder sprinkled in with it.  I smelled a new can of clays and it has a smell like Elmer's glue.  The suspect powder does not.  Any ideas?  

I put in a call to the cowboy I bought it from but he was terminally ill when I dealt with him almost a year ago so I am afraid he may have passed away.  His phone went straight to voice-mail.   I really hope I don't have to dump 4 pounds of powder as scarce as it is.  Here are some pics.  First two are suspect powder, third is out of a brand new bottle of clays.

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I just discovered what I think might be the answer.  The suspect jug is "old clays" made in Australia.  The other bottles of clays I have are the "new clays" made in Canada.  Hopefully that is the answer.  

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Before I retired I was a hazard control specialist at a government national lab.  If you had come to me asking to use this propellant I would have forbid it’s use since it lacks a quality pedigree and appears adulterated.  Propellants suitable for CAS are still available.  Consider this jug unsuitable for reloading. 

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Slightly above my pay grade, so I checked the FBI data base. 

 

https://www.ilrc.ucf.edu/powders/sample_detail.php?s_reference=&s_content_source=4&s_source_reference=&s_product_use=1&s_distributor=&s_product_name=Clays&s_date_obtained=&s_lot_number=&s_date_analyzed=&s_manufacturer=&s_date_manufactured=&s_notes=&s_shape_id=&s_color_id=&s_luster_id=&s_dia_min=&s_dia_max=&s_dia_avg=&s_dia_tol=&s_length_min=&s_length_max=&s_len_avg=&s_len_tol=&display_image=20&powder_id=136

 

Cholla Bob may have the answer, it does appear as if the older Clays had the look of floor sweepings off the powder room floor. 

 

Perhaps post a picture of the containers.

 

Just for reference I have an old container of Clays, purchased from the  widow of one the Cowboys that shot at our club. A responsible fellow, I do not think that it is a mixed up powder. It is a bit darker than the photo shows, but i think you get the picture (no pun intended)

 

 

 

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I would like to add that you may not want to just dump the two together, IOW not mix them together. I've been using Trap 100 and AA452 for years, and when I need to start using a new batch, I clear the measure and start using the new/different lot/batch. In my experience, when using powder that is ten or so years old, it can be just a bit different from another batch. I've had to change primers and/or change the charge by a tenth or two in order to maintain the same velocity. The difference was subtle, but measurable. FWIW.

 

BB

Edited by "Big Boston"
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Trying to figure if you have just a mixture of two versions of Clays, and not anything else in there, would be a Fools Errand.

 

Hodgdons, I am willing to bet, will not extend their blessing to such a thing.    Don't risk damaging a gun over a mistake by another shooter that costs you maybe $10 to throw out.  Maybe you have figured out what happened.  Maybe you haven't.

 

good luck, GJ

 

PS - I had two bottles of powder on a loading bench just a few weeks ago.  Poured half a coffee cup of one powder, after scooping 10 accuracy test loads out of it, back into the closest container, when I realized that was the wrong one of the two.   That third of a pound in the contaminated bottle was PROMPTLY poured out on the lawn.   Where a mixed powder will do me no harm.

 

No more multiple bottles on the bench.  Even if I am making 10 types of test loads.

 

 

 

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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I'm not one to take chances with unknowns and reloading. Get a new container of powder and 86 the iffy one. Don't just throw the powder on the lawn though. Use it as an fire ant killer. Stir the mound up until they are real pissed off, pour about a 1/4lb on them and light 'em up. No more fire ants and you still have some fire ant killer left. 

 

PS - the grass will grow back.

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I heard a story once where an older gentlemans' grand daughter decided to help out by cleaning up his reloading stuff.

 

 ........ "..... and I got all those half full containers of that powdery stuff and filled some of them from the others and now you have so much more space 'cause I got rid of so many of those now empty cans .... "   :o

 

  ... but that's probably not what happened here  ......   ;)

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I agree that Hodgdon would probably either tell you to throw it out or not want to get involved at all.  In any case, the chances of them telling you it is safe to use are slim to none even if they could confirm the difference between to older and newer manufacture.  In any case, probably best to just take the loss and not take any chances.  Yeah, it's a real shame to waste components with them being so scarce, but it's not worth it in my opinion.  Good luck and good shooting to all.  

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As a follow up I checked the internet and found a number of posts on different boards regarding the change in mfg of Clays to Canada from Australia, dating back to 2016.  Chris Hodgdon is aware of the questions as he was contacted by at least one individual.  Most all of the posts have to do with the density of the powder, but one mentioned a change in color.

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I have bottles of both the Australian and Canadian.  I can confirm that in my case, they are different colors and different densities.  My older Australian powder looks like your pictures.

Loaded to the same charge weight, the newer powder produces a consistently slower velocity.

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When in doubt, throw it out.

 

Also, the "marker" in Clays is a donut with a hole in it.  First time I saw the donut I wondered until I researched it and then understto.  I too though a little Trail Boss was mixed in.  Then realized I bouth that powder befor Trail Boss was ever sold.

 

Markers are required in canister powders (and possibly commercial.)

 

So if the larger bottle was labeled Calys it should still be okay for the loads we use.

 

If loading to max loads, some recommend not mixing different lots of powder.  Lots are allowed to vary up to 15% density, that is why the warning.

But in actually it, they vary by less than 5% and normally even less.

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Interesting. Some years ago I noticed some donut flakes in some Clays I was using. I had some Trailboss but haven't used much of it at all. But I was concerned about that pound of clays. I marked the can and figured at some point to load some light 38s to test out in a a 357 magnum figuring it would be safe. It's still sitting there unused.

 

I know we hate to throw out a pound of powder but imagine how you'd be kicking yourself if you blew up a gun because of $25 worth of powder you weren't sure was safe.

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After posting here and getting some favorable replies and doing some more internet searching I have determined that the powder is not mixed, it is just the difference between made in australia vs canada.  If it were just one pound I was suspicious about I would definitely throw it out, but we are talking about an 8 pound jug with about 6 pounds in it.   I am loading 3 grains and am going to go test a few rounds and see what happens.  I will test it in my blackhawk so I don't run the chance of damaging my main match vaqueros.  Will be a day or so before I can get to the range but i will report back with my findings.  Plan on shooting through a chronograph and compare to known clays. 

On a sadder note, I have not been able to contact the cowboy I bought it from and I am afraid he may have passed away.  I did a search on google and found a link to an estate sale in July.  Smokin D if you are still around please contact me. 

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On 10/17/2021 at 5:35 PM, Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971 said:

Before I retired I was a hazard control specialist at a government national lab.  If you had come to me asking to use this propellant I would have forbid it’s use since it lacks a quality pedigree and appears adulterated.  Propellants suitable for CAS are still available.  Consider this jug unsuitable for reloading. 

Much as I hate wasting components in this day and age, I totally agree.  

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5 hours ago, Jack Spade said:

have determined that the powder is not mixed, it is just the difference between made in australia vs canada.

 

That's still a mighty big assumption.

 

Seeing as how you will be using this in light pressure, no-accuracy-required cowboy loads, you may never notice the difference and MAY never have a problem.  However, I find you have given no proof that you do indeed know exactly what powders are mixed together in that can.  You weren't there to see it, you didn't get word from the person who mixed them. Nothing.  It does LOOK in the picture provided like it COULD be old and new version Clays.  But it could be several other gray flake shotgun powders just as easily.

 

The version made in Canada has a different density and slightly different power levels at the same weight of powder, from most folks experience.   Just the density differences between old and new means you will not get a uniform weight thrown from a powder measure.  That is enough to make me uncomfortable using the mix.

 

And, yes, I'm pretty sure Smokin D passed back in the summer.  :(

 

good luck, GJ

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GJ, thank you for you input.  Just to keep everything straight I dumped the powder that was in the powder measure that was a mix of known clays and the Australian jug.  I separated out the rounds loaded and will pull them and dump the powder.  I put just the Australian clays in the measure and yes I had to adjust the measure to get the same grain weight as the Canada clays.  I loaded some rounds and these are the ones I am going to test against the known Canada clays rounds.  After investigating the differences I don't think the jug I got from Smokin D was mixed, I think it just looked different because of the different manufacturers.

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I reloaded for cas for 18 years commercially.

I used several different powders.

Some look the same but were very different.

On the occasion I stopped loading and did not put the power back in its container, I might not remember what it was I was loading.

 

This powder was put in a small can and filled half way with water.

Let it sit for a couple of days then it went out to the rose bushes. (Lumpy, we agree here)

 

It is not worth what could happen if you guess wrong.

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Ok so here is the update I promised.  I went to the range yesterday with the chronograph.   I had loads of the made in canada clays and the made in australia clays.  All loads were the same weight in grains.  I had to adjust the powder measure down a bit when loading the australia clays, it was weighing about .2 grains heavier when using the same powder measure setting as the canada clays.   I shot 10 shot strings then averaged them.  The results were that the Australia clays shot 50 fps slower than the Canada clays.  I think if I had thrown the australia clays using the canada clays setting they probably would have been close to even.    I discarded the powder that was mixed in the powder measure in the one picture.   Thanks everyone for all of your input. 

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