Drying Powder?

reubenski

First Sergeant
Jun 8, 2008
1,050
334
83
38
Colorado Springs, CO
#1
I've seen it discussed a couple of times that leaving powder outside the jug in a hopper is "bad" for it. Hodgden has a disclaimer on their website about it. I've left it out and never really NOTICED much of a difference. Now , I live in Colorado and it's very dry here. Dryer than the recommended limit for the expensive hardwood flooring I installed, which over the last 6 months have shrunk a 1/2 inch.

Recently, I read a FB discussion started by a top 3 prominent shooter in our regional series who was baking his Varget in the oven, Ya, no shit! He said he had left a bunch out in the sun one day during the summer and he wish he had done more and had just run out so he was now forced to bake it. The idea is that drying it, reducing the moisture content gave him higher velocities at the same charge.

So, now to my dilemma. I just got a 6BR barrel. Developed a one hole group for it pretty quickly (no shit, right). But this is on the last 1/2lb of Varget in my jug. I have another jug hanging out. I also have about a 1/8 to 1/4 lb that had been sitting in a Dillon hopper that I forgot about for probably 3 months. The current jug that I'm running out of does 2810fps using 30.3gr. It is in a flat spot/ node. 30gr does 2900. I loaded 29.7gr of the stuff in the hopper (that came from the same jug) . That gets me 2820! I broke open the new jug bc I knew I'd have to adjust for it and wanted to know what it was doing. 30.4gr gets me 2765. Dammit! What a mess.

I dumped the new 8lb'r into two large glass casserole pans and put them on a recessed wall facade in the master bedroom which has the habitat of being the hottest room in the house. Out of sight where my wife can't see it. In the driest, hottest spot. Away from any electric or danger.

I will load 5 next week and see what it shoots. Potentially leave it there until I get back from east coast whitetail season the first week of December and see what it measures.

Anyone dicked with drying powder to increase MV?
 

Sheldon N

Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut
Sep 24, 2014
2,881
869
113
Pacific Northwest
#4
I'm in the camp of letting the powder be whatever it is, then trying to keep it from changing. I keep the 8lb jugs stored indoors in a temp stable area, try to open them infrequently, only often them to fill up a 1lb jug that I keep at the reloading bench.

If I ever leave powder in a thrower I can see it pick up or lose moisture. A day or two later the throw weight (fixed volume) will weigh a different amount due to the water content that has evaporated/absorbed.
 

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Mar 23, 2002
1,596
91
48
45
Wenatchee WA
#5
@Sheldon N oddly enough, it doesn't seem to be as much of a problem on this side of the mountains ;)

@reubenski I think you're chasing after startlight and pixie dust on this. One, it was on social media. Unless you know that person *very* well, regardless of their ranking, they might just be trolling. Two, purposely changing the burn rate of gun powder at home, DIY-style... really? How will you know how much is enough, or not enough? Are you set up to measure the moisture content before or after? Three, leaving the powder out in drying trays... I don't know about you, but when I leave the cap off a powder thrower, I have to watch out for spiders that seem to think Varget is an awesome place to dig in. I can only imagine what you'll come back to find. And finally, fourth... if something goes wrong, and I think most would agree that there is a lot of potential for that, vs. the off-chance of a performance boost... you're going to likely be submitted as a Darwin's Award candidate :sneaky:
 

reubenski

First Sergeant
Jun 8, 2008
1,050
334
83
38
Colorado Springs, CO
#6
How many fps increase is one spider worth?😁

Well, I'll let you know how it goes in a couple of days. As far as turning Varget into H4895, it's all relative to the huge difference in lot variations. I did test 4895 in this rifle actually. 29.8gr got me 2780fps, pretty much right in between the lot to lot variations of Varget. But it didn't shoot as well as the 3 or ( 2 & 1/2?) lots of Varget. Go figure.
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
876
421
63
#8
As in the damn oven?
A dehydrator?

Maybe a desiccant bag?

Oh I forget Colorado did legalize pot. Lol
 

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Mar 23, 2002
1,596
91
48
45
Wenatchee WA
#9
@Sean the Nailer probably right up there with duplex loads and sifting powder for uniform kernel size :rolleyes:

There are people who have done it and claim a benefit - but it's probably not the best use of time at the loading bench... for me, at least.

I'm pretty sure that I lose *way* more points to the wind, and that's just in F-class. For PRS/field type shooting... pretty sure there are way more points to be picked up other ways than drying your powder.

Then again, it *is* winter. Kinda early for cabin fever to be setting in, though :unsure:
 
Feb 13, 2017
657
200
43
#10
I have seen this as well. Baking powders to completely dry them out.

I left some H4350 in a hopper for a couple weeks here in North Texas. It rained the whole two weeks. I lost 49 FPS across the board with the same charge weights as poster from a new container.
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
876
421
63
#11
My north Texas powder thrower got way off in that monsoon a month ago.
But still trickled to my load. Poi never changed.

Was actually wondering if anyone tried desiccant packs?
 

reubenski

First Sergeant
Jun 8, 2008
1,050
334
83
38
Colorado Springs, CO
#12
I don't have the balls to get powder near an oven. I went back and found the FB post. He was turning the oven on to 170 for 20 mins and then turning it off, put the powder in for 5 mins with the door open, taking it out, stirring it with a spoon while the oven heated back up with the door closed at 170 and then repeated. He was also claiming lower SDs.

I was talking about this with one of my shooting buddies. With my old lot, I get a flat node in between 2785 and 2820. That is a .6gr spread that only nets 35fps increase. With the new lot, 29.8 to 30.4 net a 65fps increase from 2700 to 2765. I start to get pressure at 2765 and it doesn't shoot nearly as well as the old lot in that flat node at 2800. So, it's not just a matter of accepting a slower speed and moving on.

I remember one of our friends switched lots of Varget without checking. Just loaded up the same charge and went on a road trip to shoot two one day matches on a weekend. Totally tanked. He got back and chrono'd and realized the new lot was significantly slower, didn't shoot in a node, and had high SDs. He was frustrated for a while and ended up selling the powder. Now it makes me wonder if it just had a higher moisture content and could've been salvageable with a little drying.

I'll load 5 of this new lot this evening and shoot it tomorrow am before work. It will have 24hrs of drying at 70 - 85degrees on it at this point.
 

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Mar 23, 2002
1,596
91
48
45
Wenatchee WA
#13
Did your friend not just tweak the load to match the old velocity? That usually works pretty well in my experience, across lot # changes of powder, primers, etc.
 
Sep 16, 2009
596
46
28
College Station, Tx
#15
I don't have the balls to get powder near an oven. I went back and found the FB post. He was turning the oven on to 170 for 20 mins and then turning it off, put the powder in for 5 mins with the door open, taking it out, stirring it with a spoon while the oven heated back up with the door closed at 170 and then repeated. He was also claiming lower SDs.

I was talking about this with one of my shooting buddies. With my old lot, I get a flat node in between 2785 and 2820. That is a .6gr spread that only nets 35fps increase. With the new lot, 29.8 to 30.4 net a 65fps increase from 2700 to 2765. I start to get pressure at 2765 and it doesn't shoot nearly as well as the old lot in that flat node at 2800. So, it's not just a matter of accepting a slower speed and moving on.

I remember one of our friends switched lots of Varget without checking. Just loaded up the same charge and went on a road trip to shoot two one day matches on a weekend. Totally tanked. He got back and chrono'd and realized the new lot was significantly slower, didn't shoot in a node, and had high SDs. He was frustrated for a while and ended up selling the powder. Now it makes me wonder if it just had a higher moisture content and could've been salvageable with a little drying.

I'll load 5 of this new lot this evening and shoot it tomorrow am before work. It will have 24hrs of drying at 70 - 85degrees on it at this point.
If moisture content of the powder is the variable here wouldn't humidity be the more important factor to keep track of over temp? I would assume most road in their house. Mine pretty well stays from 70-75 with 40-50% relative humidity. From the article they try to hold 50% humidity when packaging the powder.
 

reubenski

First Sergeant
Jun 8, 2008
1,050
334
83
38
Colorado Springs, CO
#16
Did your friend not just tweak the load to match the old velocity? That usually works pretty well in my experience, across lot # changes of powder, primers, etc.
Ya, he did, but it still didn't shoot as well. With my lot variations it is 60fps slower and hitting pressure before I can get it back to the node, so it won't perform the same just by adding powder.

The guy that was baking his shit had to increase .9gr to get back to his speed and was getting too much pressure to reliably run. He said he had 100lbs of that lot....
 

reubenski

First Sergeant
Jun 8, 2008
1,050
334
83
38
Colorado Springs, CO
#17
If moisture content of the powder is the variable here wouldn't humidity be the more important factor to keep track of over temp? I would assume most road in their house. Mine pretty well stays from 70-75 with 40-50% relative humidity. From the article they try to hold 50% humidity when packaging the powder.
I guess but I'm not controlling the humidity. I'm just quoting the temp bc I can easily estimate it. Can't easily estimate humidity. I might break out my kestrel and see what it says...
 

Strykervet

Resident Phoenix Eye and Dim Mak Instructor
Jun 5, 2011
3,092
1,255
113
42
Pierce County, WA
#20
I sometimes get something going, problems pop up, and powder ends up sitting for a few days, maybe a couple weeks. So what I do is tape a (large?) packet of silica gel to the top of the hopper and put the lid back on. It's filled up over halfway usually, the less air the better. The room is totally dark (that's one of the other problems too, light). So far it seems no problem, it's the same. I fill off 8lb. jugs when I use those, so usually, but I tend to go through much of it. Otherwise it just gets stored back away. This is in a garage, still no problems.

I read the warning too. That's why I used those silica packs just to make sure. I suppose you could also tape the cap on and that would also help, and provided it's dark, how can it really be any different in the hopper as the jug? Other than possible etching of the hopper tube?

I've got powder in 1lb. cans of all types and amounts. Some of it is over a decade old, and none of it seems degraded. Nice, fresh smell. It gets sold in pulldown form in large cannisters all the time, some is very old, most works fine for what it is. This stuff lasts a while if you take care of it.
 

supercorndogs

Ham Fisted Gorilla
Feb 17, 2014
2,996
1,019
113
#21
I sometimes get something going, problems pop up, and powder ends up sitting for a few days, maybe a couple weeks. So what I do is tape a (large?) packet of silica gel to the top of the hopper and put the lid back on. It's filled up over halfway usually, the less air the better. The room is totally dark (that's one of the other problems too, light). So far it seems no problem, it's the same. I fill off 8lb. jugs when I use those, so usually, but I tend to go through much of it. Otherwise it just gets stored back away. This is in a garage, still no problems.

I read the warning too. That's why I used those silica packs just to make sure. I suppose you could also tape the cap on and that would also help, and provided it's dark, how can it really be any different in the hopper as the jug? Other than possible etching of the hopper tube?

I've got powder in 1lb. cans of all types and amounts. Some of it is over a decade old, and none of it seems degraded. Nice, fresh smell. It gets sold in pulldown form in large cannisters all the time, some is very old, most works fine for what it is. This stuff lasts a while if you take care of it.
What does light do to powder?
 

reubenski

First Sergeant
Jun 8, 2008
1,050
334
83
38
Colorado Springs, CO
#24
48hrs of drying gained me 70fps. This new lot now loads just like the old lot. The difference between 30gr and 30.3gr is 10fps. 2800 and 2810. Back into the node and the groups show it. This expierement was a straight up sucess!
 

Sheldon N

Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut
Sep 24, 2014
2,881
869
113
Pacific Northwest
#25
48hrs of drying gained me 70fps. This new lot now loads just like the old lot. The difference between 30gr and 30.3gr is 10fps. 2800 and 2810. Back into the node and the groups show it. This expierement was a straight up sucess!
Sweet, congrats! :)

And to all the rest of you who are now thinking you should go dry your powder.... what this test shows is that a load worked up with dry powder, then swapped to "damp" powder and doesn't shoot, can come back to life when the new powder is dried out like the old powder.

Don't go running off to dry your powder to get more speed, or with any guarantee that it will be more accurate. Sure it will be a "faster" powder, but you can usually make better velocity before pressure with powders that have a slower burn rate.

Besides, if I left powder out to dry here in the northwest it would probably grow mold on it. :)
 

reubenski

First Sergeant
Jun 8, 2008
1,050
334
83
38
Colorado Springs, CO
#26
Sweet, congrats! :)

And to all the rest of you who are now thinking you should go dry your powder.... what this test shows is that a load worked up with dry powder, then swapped to "damp" powder and doesn't shoot, can come back to life when the new powder is dried out like the old powder.

Don't go running off to dry your powder to get more speed, or with any guarantee that it will be more accurate. Sure it will be a "faster" powder, but you can usually make better velocity before pressure with powders that have a slower burn rate.

Besides, if I left powder out to dry here in the northwest it would probably grow mold on it. :)
Sheldon, I know it's in the back of your mind now....

The next time you get a slow lot....😁
 
Likes: Sheldon N
Nov 23, 2010
244
22
18
31
Missouri
#30
I don't have the balls to get powder near an oven. I went back and found the FB post. He was turning the oven on to 170 for 20 mins and then turning it off, put the powder in for 5 mins with the door open, taking it out, stirring it with a spoon while the oven heated back up with the door closed at 170 and then repeated. He was also claiming lower SDs.

I was talking about this with one of my shooting buddies. With my old lot, I get a flat node in between 2785 and 2820. That is a .6gr spread that only nets 35fps increase. With the new lot, 29.8 to 30.4 net a 65fps increase from 2700 to 2765. I start to get pressure at 2765 and it doesn't shoot nearly as well as the old lot in that flat node at 2800. So, it's not just a matter of accepting a slower speed and moving on.

I remember one of our friends switched lots of Varget without checking. Just loaded up the same charge and went on a road trip to shoot two one day matches on a weekend. Totally tanked. He got back and chrono'd and realized the new lot was significantly slower, didn't shoot in a node, and had high SDs. He was frustrated for a while and ended up selling the powder. Now it makes me wonder if it just had a higher moisture content and could've been salvageable with a little drying.

I'll load 5 of this new lot this evening and shoot it tomorrow am before work. It will have 24hrs of drying at 70 - 85degrees on it at this point.
Do you refer to Aaron hipp FB post?
 
Sep 16, 2009
596
46
28
College Station, Tx
#34
It is interesting. It may call for an experiment. Just for the sake of curiosity.

Take a small quantity of two lots that you have verified are statistically significant different on mv and let them both sit open in the same controlled environment and see what happens to the mv difference between the two.