Well I said I would write an article on gunpowder, lead and copper to make us all more informed about these items. Well all you going to get is gunpowder as my carpal tunnel is going to limit my article. I also said that I would plagiarize as much information as I could. Well let’s get going, first off ‘Gunpowder”. Information for this section was taken from a Material Safety DATA Sheet (MSDS) http://www.hodgdon.com
for modern smokeless powders manufactured for Winchester Smokeless Propellant Company.
Gunpowder is considered explosive (go figure) toxic, a blood toxin, and a skin and eye irritant. This is why it’s so important that you wash you hands after shooting, and before eating anything, I know the range I go to has signs posted and a washroom to allow for cleanup, if yours does not then you might want to think of bringing something to clean your hands off with after shooting.
What’s in gunpowder?
There are many chemicals in modern smokeless gunpowder a lot more the original Chinese mix I’m sure, presently it contains;; Nitroglycerin, Dibutyl phthalate, Polyester adipate, Ethyl Cetralite,, Ethyl Acetate, Diphenylamine, Nitrosodiphenylamine, Potassium nitrate, Tin dioxide, Graphite, Calcium carbonate and Nitrocellulose. Why do we care about all these chemicals? All of them are considered HAZARDOUS to your health. If fact upon contact with your skin you are to wash it off with water. How long do we have these chemicals in contact with our skin at the range? (And we bring this home to our families too)
The official rules for safe gunpowder storage!
Well your suppose to store it in a cool, dark, well vented area (does under my bed count). It has an unlimited shelf life as long as it does not exceed 100F. Any of you live in the Southwest USA or how about some of our new friends from the land down under? Do not expose it to direct sunlight, or shock. It will auto ignite at 394F. To extinguish a gunpowder fire use massive amounts of water, be sure that the powder fire does not also include an electrical fire, as electrocution is possible. Call 911, get everyone clear, stay back, let the professionals handle what is left.
First aid – Although the MSDS did not state this I feel as though the first aid information is for you re-loaders out there. I do not believe that just shooting at the range will put you in need of anything expect good hand washing, and washing your clothes is not a bad idea either.
Eyes – Immediately flush with water for at least 15 minutes lifting upper & lower eyelids, if your eyes keep bothering you see a Doctor.
Skin – Immediately flush for 15 minutes, call a DOCTOR, if you clothing has it on them make sure you wash them before you wear them next time.
Ingestion (eating) – Drink large quantities of water, induce vomiting, call a DOCTOR. Do not give anything by mouth if the person is unconscious or having convulsions.
Inhalation – If you’re dizzy or have a headache or are experiencing nausea, stop working immediately get into fresh air and call a Doctor,
How corrosive is gunpowder?
Years ago, back when buffalo roamed the plains, everyone shot black-powder rifles which absolutely positively had to be cleaned immediately after shooting, because black powder was (and is) such a corrosive substance that it would ruin the gun if the fouling were left in the barrel. Modern powder is not corrosive, and so it won't eat its way through the metal of your barrel if it gets left in there for awhile. The fouling can and often does affect gun reliability, however. Uncleaned guns are more apt to jam when you most need them. Because the crud can slow down the slide, dirty semi-automatic firearms are prone to failures to feed or failures to completely eject the spent cases. Uncleaned revolvers are prone to binding up, and the double-action trigger can become difficult or impossible to pull if the cylinder isn't turning easily. Poorly-cleaned or uncleaned firearms are thus far less reliable than their well-cleaned and properly lubricated counterparts.
How do I safely clean shooting residue from my Weapon(s)?
Rule One means that you never do anything with an allegedly unloaded gun that you would not do with it if you knew it was loaded. This is the cardinal rule, and all others follow naturally from it. So when you pick your gun up for the purpose of cleaning it, you treat it with every ounce of respect you would give it if you knew it was loaded and knew for certain that it would fire if the trigger were pulled.
Rule Two means that when you carry your gun to the cleaning area, you maintain constant awareness of where the muzzle is pointing. Just because you are preparing to clean the gun does not mean that it is no longer a gun. Rule Two also means that when you are ready to disassemble the gun, you do not point it at your dog, your left hand, your firstborn child, or at the expensive wide screen TV you cannot afford to replace. You never allow the firearm to point at anything you are not willing to destroy, nor at any human beings who aren't on your better-off-dead list.
Rule Three means that even after you have removed the magazine and made sure the chamber doesn't contain a live round, you still do not put your finger on the trigger until you have deliberately picked out the optimal spot for a bullet to land. The firearm must not be pointed in some random direction when you pull the trigger. Rather, you have deliberately considered which spot in the area would be the most acceptable place to put a bullet, and you point your firearm at that spot and at that spot only before you ever allow your finger to rest upon the trigger.
Rule Four means that when you choose that spot, you'd darn well better remember that interior walls don't stop bullets. If you need to build a solid backstop in order to have a safe place to disassemble firearms in your home, you do so.