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Posted: 3/14/2009 7:35:20 PM EDT
i have heard this around my area lately and i was curious if its really true or not. supposedly they are trying to push trough the EPA that gunpowder has too much mercury in it and that we need biodegradable gunpowder because it is safer for the environment is it real or false ?
Link Posted: 3/14/2009 7:36:36 PM EDT
Chemists will check in shortly, but I'm calling bull poo poo on this one.
Link Posted: 3/14/2009 7:39:15 PM EDT
Is this like the primers that are only good for one year?
Link Posted: 3/14/2009 7:39:37 PM EDT
I've never heard of such a thing.

Anyway, smokeless powder is primarily nitrocellulose, which is essentially what you get when you expose cotton to nitric acid. There's no mercury in it.

There shouldn't be any in the other components of smokeless powder, either, unless something got contaminated.

Black powder MIGHT have trace amounts of mercury in it but I do mean TRACE amounts.


Primers used to have some mercury in them but non-mercuric primers are by far the rule rather than the exception these days in modern ammo,
though older, foreign made ammo can be mercuric and you'll know when you find it because if you shoot the stuff and then don't clean your barrel afterwards,
the next day you've got a pitted ruin that was once your barrel.


CJ
Link Posted: 3/14/2009 7:49:14 PM EDT
Originally Posted By cmjohnson:
I've never heard of such a thing.

Anyway, smokeless powder is primarily nitrocellulose, which is essentially what you get when you expose cotton to nitric acid. There's no mercury in it.

There shouldn't be any in the other components of smokeless powder, either, unless something got contaminated.

Black powder MIGHT have trace amounts of mercury in it but I do mean TRACE amounts.


Primers used to have some mercury in them but non-mercuric primers are by far the rule rather than the exception these days in modern ammo,
though older, foreign made ammo can be mercuric and you'll know when you find it because if you shoot the stuff and then don't clean your barrel afterwards,
the next day you've got a pitted ruin that was once your barrel.


CJ


<===== Chemist here

cmjohnson has it pretty much right.

Smokeless gunpowder is primarily nitrocellulose.
It also contains some nitroglycerine (double based powders) and other burn-rate-modifiers.
The individual grains are also coated with graphite to make it flow better.
PURE nitrocellulose is clear. Old movie film was nitrocellulose.
It was one of, if not THE first plastic ever made.
I even remember that some plastic screwdriver handles were made of nitrocellulose.
Pingpong balls are nitrocellulose based.

As far as primers go, mercury fulminate was used as a primer.
Then there were lead compounds, which may still be used. Not sure.

I've read that "corrosive" ammo was only corrosive because the primers' combustion residue would absorb water out of the air (hygroscopic).
Little droplets of water could form in the action/barrel, and lead to rust. It wasn't because the residue was acidic.

Link Posted: 3/14/2009 7:55:02 PM EDT
What do you think people used to do with old powder? They'd spread it in the yard to help the grass grow.

It's plenty biodegradable now.
Link Posted: 3/14/2009 8:08:34 PM EDT
There is no mercury in any ammunition produced in the past 100 years. Mercuric primers were used only with black powder. When smokless was introduced in 1889, brass cases started FAILING due to mercury vapors embrittling the cases. The sulfur in black powder scavanged the mercury before it could cause stress corrosion cracking. But no sulfur in smokeless so it caused problems.

Mercury is not used in processing nitrocellulose or any of the other chemicals. The last chemical process that used mercury was production of acetic anhydride. That is not used anymore.
Link Posted: 3/14/2009 8:12:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2009 8:18:22 PM EDT by Raingod]
It's already biodegradable. Makes excellent fertilizer if you have a can go bad.

ETA: damn, beaten to it. Ok, so here's another tidbit.

Originally Posted By The_Reaper:
I've read that "corrosive" ammo was only corrosive because the primers' combustion residue would absorb water out of the air (hygroscopic).
Little droplets of water could form in the action/barrel, and lead to rust. It wasn't because the residue was acidic.


It's because they used potassium chlorate. I think that's bad enough for causing rust, but it also decomposes into potassium chloride, so basically they were dumping salt into the barrel. Just needed to be rinsed out with water.
Link Posted: 3/14/2009 8:24:22 PM EDT
I love the high mercury content of ammo

that way after shooting, I can hire myself out as a thermometer for part time work


Holy shit...these rumors are worse than 1994
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