A question about black powder

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gunman42782

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I have always been told never to use plastic with black powder due to it could cause static electricity and could ignite it. I don't load cartridges with BP, but I thought one of the reasons for the long brass drop tube was to prevent static electricity. Once again, I have read never to use a plastic drop tube. Now black powder actually comes in plastic containers, just like smokeless. So, what's the true story here?
 

Hawk-in-Wi

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my guess would be the difference between Real Black Powder and the new substitute stuff that most of us use now
 

Bob Wright

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In the grain industry we were told static electricity was a "cold" spark and would not ignite the dust. But then when we were around the extraction process we were never allowed to wear nylon jackets or shirts. Also no steel nails in the soles of our boots.

I never challenged the practice as I sure didn't want to be blown into the next county! I had seen the effects of a grain dust explosion!

Bob Wright
 

BROKENBEAR

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Well I will be interested to hear the answer to this from someone who actually knows the answer to your question ..
My GUESS.. the drop tube powder funnels are really more to guide the powder down the barrel and to "compact" the charge in the same manner each loading to promote accuracy ..
I don't think plastic containers are an issue (my guess again) because it is "holding" the material stable whereas using plastic to stir or to convey black powder (drop tube) can be an issue because I suspect it is the action of the moving powder grains across the plastic that MAY generate the +/- charge differential to create the "discharge spark"
This a very limited knowledge guess ..with this and $1 you can get a McDonald's Senior Coffee

Bear
 
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An Old Wife's Tale. This subject has come up many times with the SASS shooters. Nobody has heard of anybody blowing themselves up loading with a plastic tube. There has also been reason that I don't remember why it doesn't happen. Static electricity in my humid part of Texas is non existence :)
I have loded 1000s of rounds with my Dillon 650 with Goex and others.
 

gunman42782

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my guess would be the difference between Real Black Powder and the new substitute stuff that most of us use now
Hank, I am talking about REAL black powder. Comes in plastic containers now just like everything else.
 

eveled

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Apr 3, 2012
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Plastic is a general term. In recycling there are 7 types, but the seventh one is a misc group with at least 8 members. There are some I can think of that I dont see listed. There are probably 100’s of types of plastic all with slightly different properties.

Maybe some are more prone to static charges than others?
 

buckeyeshooter

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Nov 8, 2004
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An Old Wife's Tale. This subject has come up many times with the SASS shooters. Nobody has heard of anybody blowing themselves up loading with a plastic tube. There has also been reason that I don't remember why it doesn't happen. Static electricity in my humid part of Texas is non existence :)
I have loded 1000s of rounds with my Dillon 650 with Goex and others.
I hope there is not a problem. I load 44-40's with black for cas. I use an old lyman turret press for black and throw from the powder measure to a brass pan for the scale, then a plastic funnel into the case. I load 600 rounds a week for competition and practice. I have never had a problem and been doing it that way over 10 years.
 

BearBiologist

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Dec 4, 2021
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Well I will be interested to hear the answer to this from someone who actually knows the answer to your question ..
My GUESS.. the drop tube powder funnels are really more to guide the powder down the barrel and to "compact" the charge in the same manner each loading to promote accuracy ..
I don't think plastic containers are an issue (my guess again) because it is "holding" the material stable whereas using plastic to stir or to convey black powder (drop tube) can be an issue because I suspect it is the action of the moving powder grains across the plastic that MAY generate the +/- charge differential to create the "discharge spark"
This a very limited knowledge guess ..with this and $1 you can get a McDonald's Senior Coffee

Bear
Pretty much. The brass drop tube reduces static which causes the grains to cling to the drop tube. The longer "drop" also helps compress the powder. I've used the drop tube to load cartridges with BP and alternates in several cartridge (45-70, 45-90, 38-55, 40-90). In ML guns, the barrel functions much the same as does the drop tube.
 

eveled

Hunter
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Apr 3, 2012
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At electronic tech stations everything is grounded and you wear a bracelet that is grounded too. If the press is grounded static cannot build up.
 

noahmercy

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Likely the BP containers are one of the anti-static or static dissipative plastics. That, and I have seen multiple people try- and fail- to ignite black powder with static sparks. That being said, I use a brass drop tube. A couple 12" lengths of brass tubing from Ace with a little section of the next-larger size slipped over the joint where they butt up against one another and soldered, and a flask filling funnel from Track of the Wolf (or Dixie Gun Works) cost less than a cheap plastic drop tube funnel.

And as others have noted, drop tubes are simply to maximize loading density with BP...the less space between granules the cleaner it burns. I use a drop tube followed by a compression die and can get a full 40 grains in 45 Colt. The powder ends up solid, like the Pyrodex or Triple 7 pellets on the market. I can shoot hundreds of rounds without cleaning, where just dumping the powder into the case from a pan (I can only get about 30-32 grains in like that) and lightly compressing it with the bullet leaves enough fouling that I have to douche the guns down with Ballistol after firing just a couple cylinder-fulls.
 

woodsy

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"Likely the BP containers are one of the anti-static or static dissipative plastics."

That's the reason for the plastic containers. I don't do a LOT of reloading, but I have never seen any powder in a plastic container which wasn't black (they have colorful labels, though). Those jugs are black because there is graphite in the plastic, which bleeds off the static.
 

Joe Chartreuse

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Just another thought: These days not all "plastic" is the same. For instance, Polyester, polypropylene, polycarbonate, and polystyrene (special treatment) are all used to to make electronic capacitors, both AC and DC. No static charge will build on these components. There may be additives included as well. My point is that today's plastics can be made without worries of static build-up. I mentioned special treatment with polystyrene because if you ever worked with packing peanuts you know they can pick up charges big time. Were I to guess, I would think they use polypropylene, possibly with some metallization
 
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Paul B

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Tucson, AZ
Somewhere floating around out in cyberspace is an article on this very subject. A fellow was trying to get black powder and Prodex at the time to ignite with a spark. I forget whether he was doing something to generate static electricity, using a device to make electrical sparks or both. He tried this not only with black powder but smokeless as well. He said that try as he might, he never got one grain of powder to light up. IIRC, he used something like teaspoon amounts of the various powders. I'm guessing this was done about 15 to 20 years ago. I don't remember which site it was on. My apologies.
Paul B.
 

warren5421

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Jan 11, 2009
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Location
Indy
All the explosions I have read about was caused just like the grain elavator explosions. You have a fine dust in the air and a spark happens and the dust goes up. Raid your wife's bakeing flower, put a cup bunched on the ground and try to burn it. Then take and start a small fire on the ground, pitch a cup of flower into the air over the fire, then go look for you hair and eyebrows. I started about 1956, 5th grade, shooting black, made black in chemistry class, put it in a dish and lighted with a bunson burner. No explosion just a very high flame and a big black spot on the ceiling. To get an explosion it must be contained! That is why you don't use your powder horn to charge a gun.
 

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