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This might be a dumb question, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I was out of the blackpowder hunting arena for the last 3 years. Checking my stock, I have 2 cans of Goex, FFF and FFFF, nearly full, but have been opened. These are at least 4 years old.

What's the chances this powder still has good power?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Whew - good. I know black powder is getting harder to find.
 

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I still have some powder that I bought in Friendship for $5 a lb, needless to say that was a few years ago.

I top off up my little black huntin' horn with "friendship" powder every year for the late season.

I'm guessin' its over 30 years old and still working fine.
 

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I bought some old 43 Spanish cartridges that were packaged in 1885. I wanted to reload them, so I pulled the bullets and dumped the powder. It was about the equivalent of 2fg. I let that powder sit in an open container in a damp basement for 5 years. Ant then loaded it up and it fired just fine.

Most of the powder I have on hand is from 1991 when I paid $3 a pound for it.
 

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I found this on another website, might be worthy to read.

Powder goes bad when the lid to the container isn't airtight. Many of the chemicals that control the burn rate or help keep it's flamability tend to evaporate over time when exposed to air. If it's of unkown origins or unknown storage conditions, just discard it, or use it for plinking rounds. You can also test it by loading several rounds from it and collecting target data as well as chrono data, but by the time you do that, you've likely spent as much as you could just buying a new container of powder.

Old powder isn't really dangerous. I mean it doesn't get unstable with age. Keep in mind that according to the powder makers the burn rates for each powder do change ever so slightly over the years and even sometimes in the same year from lot number to lot number their can be negligable variations. It's a matter of how much their raw materials change from suppliers over the years. The makers do consentrate a real effort to keep their product as consistant as possible, but raw materials do change over time. This is one of many reasons that load data in manuals gets updated every few years.

Having said that I do know of at least one person who still loads rounds today using powder he bought in the 1980s. It happens to be H4831, but it's his powder, he bought it, and he know where it's been and how it's been stored. He bought a cache of it at that time due to a scare in the air and still has plenty of it. He gets pretty good performance out of it too.
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Your gonna want to check that the powder didn't get damp. Take a barn burner light it and stick it in the opening of the can so you can get a good look....

PS: If you believe this, take your flinter to the gun shop and trade it on a regular rifle...
 

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I actually didnt Black powder hunt for many years , my father built flintlocks, and when he died a few years ago , it spured me back into it after 15 years away from this tradition . He has a stash of over 10 lbs of Black powder , Some open some not , but I have been useing it all along and never really thought about it going bad . But it works very well for me so far and its easily from late 80s as well .
 

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Powders from the old days were generally made using water that had been sterilized in copper kettles. The trace copper left in the powder prevented some of the bacteria that were known to live in and degrade some powders. (Same or similar bacteria that live in underground coal veins.) There was a point about 40 years ago, that some thought black powder was going bad and the reason given wqs that unsterilized water was used to make the powder and the bacteria could get in the powder and chemically change the powder reducing it's oomph. There was an article about it in one of the black powder magazines back around 1980. Whether the article was scientifically valid, I don't know.
 

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I'm using the powder dad bought when he got the Flintlock, late 70's to early 80's. Works fine every time!
 

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I still have nearly half a case that was purchased close to 20 years ago. There are three of us using cans of FFFg from the case with no concerns about the powder's quality.

No more than I shoot or hunt these days, I'll have my powder needs covered till days end.
 
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