An interesting discussion on how old is too old posted on The High Road.
Here’s an excerpt from an Army Supply Bulletin that should of interest to ammo hoarders and power buyers:
Ammunition Surveillance Procedures SB 742-1
Chapter 13 Propellant and Propelling Charges
Nitrocellulose-based propellant can become thermally unstable as the age. The normal aging process of the propellants involves deterioration of the nitrocellulose with an accompanying generation of heat. At some point, the propellant may reach a state where heat is generated faster than it can be dissipated. The accumulation of heat can lead to combustion (autoignition). Chemical stabilizers are added to propellants to slow the aging process. In time, the stabilizer levels will drop to a point where the remaining effective stabilizer (RES) is not sufficient to prevent an accelerating rate of decomposition. When this point is reached, the propellant may autoigniet, with possible catastrophic results to property and life. Monitoring the stability level of each propellant lot is essential for continued safe storage.
Page 13-5 , Table 13.2 Propellant Stability Codes.
Stability Category A 0.30 or more Percent Effective Stabilizer
Acceptable stabilizer loss: safe for continued storage
C 0.29-0.20 Percent Effective Stabilizer
Significant stabilizer loss. Lot does not represent an immediate hazard, but is approaching a potentially hazardous stability condition. Loss of stabilizer does adversely affect function in an uploaded configuration. Disposition instructions will be furnished by NAR. All stability category “C” assests on the installation must be reported in writing…
One year after becoming stability category “C” a sample of the bulk propellant lot or the bulk-packed component lot will be retested. If the lot has not deteriorated to category “D”, it will be retested each year until it has been expended, or it has deteriorated to category “D”, at which point it will be demilitarized within 60 days.
D Less than 0.20 Percent Effective Stabilizer
Unacceptable stabilizer loss. Lots identified as stability category “D” present a potential safety hazard and are unsafe for continued storage as bulk, bulk-packed components , or as separate loading propellant chargers. Bulk propellant, bulk –packed components and separate loading propelling charges will be demilitarized within 60 days after notification of category “D” status.