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Salvaging blackpowder

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A few weeks back I was at the range with my flintlock and was approached by an older guy.  "Can you use some blackpowder?" was his question, and I replied that I could.  He asked me to meet him at his place later, so I did.  He had a plastic tub with lid sitting on a trailer behind his garden tractor along with a sheet of roofing rubber.  "I had it down in the bushes in the woods, been there for at least 10 years".  He opened the tub, and there was a heavy, black plastic bag inside, and it was tied shut.  Upon opening the bag, it was evident there was water in the bottom.  ".....insert your own expletives...."

The cans on top didn't look too bad, but there must have been at least a gallon of water in the bottom, and those cans were rusty.   "....more expletives...., I'm sorry, but how could this happen?  Well, if you think you can do anything with it, you can have it".

I loaded it into the back of my truck -  tub, bag, and all.  I placed the cans on my garage floor and got the questionable idea to blow warm air on them with a portable electric heater.  I checked them several times, moving warm to the touch cans further away, and after a couple of days decided to see what was salvageable.

The cans that had been on top sounded like powder when shaken, so were dumped into 5 quart metal bucket for visual observation, beofre transferring into modern plastic powder containers and relabeled.  This was mostly Goex ffg from '96 to '01.

Some of the rusty cans seemed like a solid lump.  Elephant ffg and fffg from '96 and '97 were the worst.  There were a few cans of Goex ffg as well, and one can of Goex Ctg from 1995.  I beat on the cans with my hands to try to  loosen the powder up, but then resorted to slamming the cans onto a 2x8 on the floor.  I started pouring into the bucket, and broke up the lumps.  Some of the cans needed the spouts and tops ripped out to get the big lumps out, but it eventually seemed to break up OK.  This  was all mixed together in one big jug. 

There was a can or two rusted through, some that had a thick crust of blackpowder in the bottoms after dumping out what would come out.  I ended up with one can of very questionable looking stuff that will be reserved for pan powder at best, or maybe will end up as fertilizer.


I'd see how it works after I know it's dry. It may work just fine.

I've since gone to the range with this salvaged mix.  I used my .58 flintlock as the test mule.  85-100gr Goex fffg is what I normally load, so I went directly to 100gr with this mixed powder.  The first 4 shots at 50 yards made one egg sized splat at point of aim on a steel gong.  I took a couple of shots at 100 yards and saw it was considerably low.  I changed my point of aim and put 3 shots in 3".  At that point I increased the powder charge to 120gr, but it didn't group.  At no point did I feel the need to swab the bore as the mink oil and pillow ticking was sliding down the bore quite easily with the range rod.

What I didn't do during this trip was shoot my normal fffg load, but the points of impact suggest this stuff is considerably slower.  I DID expect this as the mix is probably 60-70% ffg and Ctg.  I don't have a way to check moisture content, but the mix isn't clumping together...yet.

How would someone measure the moisture content of blackpowder?


I have read that the Elephant powder is slower than the Goex.  Never had the opportunity to use any myself.

I purchased 4 cans of 2F Elephant powder back in the late 90's when you could not get any GOEX. I shot it in my shotguns and .54 caliber rifle. I found it to be somewhat dirtier than GOEX and not as powerful. It worked just fine I just had to use a bit more than I was using with GOEX.


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