Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls
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  1. #1

    Oct 2004
    188
    2 times

    Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    Just want to see if anyone is a pro on the issues of gunpowder. I feel sure it is inert after 300 years in the ocean, but in one of my exploding cannon balls, the powder was DRY!

    Safe?

    I am still amazed how perfectly preserved they are. When the coral is first removed, they are shiny silver!

    I appreciate any input. Like I said, I am very sure about it, but it can't hurt to get other opinions.

    Thanks
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  2. #2
    pl
    Jul 2005
    Warsaw-Poland
    White's Prizm V
    268

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    Hi !

    I'm not a professional.... But in Poland we say, " If something has a gunpowder inside ( and it's dry ), it's NEVER safe."

    To be honest, first time I see something like this.... What was it for?
    I suppose, it was a kind of weapon. Right?

    Pozdrawiam Matejko
    "Never give up Your purpose, even if getting to it takes time... Time will pass anyway..."
    'Pozdrawiam" means "Greetings" in Polish.

  3. #3
    us
    Random chance seems to have operated in our favor

    Oct 2004
    Oklahoma
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    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    Since you have one disarmed, have you tried lighting a small portion away from other flamible objects? My understanding is that blackpowder gets more unstable with age. In it's initial stage of being made, was made wet so that when ground up it wouldn't ignite and ruin everones day.
    Try this link and click on left side where it says Introduction to Artillery, then 4th one down is Disarm/Preservation.
    http://civilwarartillery.com/
    I don't know if salt water makes any difference but apparently was sealed well enough to come out dry.
    Just keep it safe my friend.

  4. #4
    Research Guru

    Jan 2005
    Tampa, Florida
    1,321
    10 times

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    While I cannot speak for the potency of the powder used in those cannonballs, I do own a few antique firearms and shoot them. I have found that SOME cartridges over 20 years old begin to lose power and do downhill after that. I have had some that wouldn't fire and found that although the powder was still dry, it would barely burn! That being said, if the powder is even a fraction of it's original strength, IT'S STILL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!!!! Please be careful!
    "Wisdom comes not from knowing everything, but  knowing from whom to ask!"

  5. #5
    us
    Random chance seems to have operated in our favor

    Oct 2004
    Oklahoma
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    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    Cool finds! Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that BP is always unstable. I just saying that it has the potential for ruining your day if not careful. There are those that know how to disarm a projectile, but if you have no clue then sek out advise and learn. I don't consider myself an expert, so anything I say is JMO. Have a safe day and HH.

  6. #6
    pl
    Jul 2005
    Warsaw-Poland
    White's Prizm V
    268

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    Hi !

    First of all. Thanks Cornelius for sharing Your's knowledge with me.
    It is always good to know. Thank You.

    To Pirate-Chris.

    Best thing You can do with Your grenade is to put it back where You found it, or even much deeper. I felt shivers on my back, when I saw it.
    It does not mean that I'm afraid, or something... It means, that I know for sure...: It is not worth cleaning it.
    Simply because cleaning might be to expensive, might cost You to much.... If only exploder went of, it's enough to harm You badly.
    Not to mention of whole grenade...

    Take a look in here, but if You're having dinner then finish it before seeing this stuff.
    http://members.shaw.ca/gryphon223/consequences.html

    Believe Me, i know what may happen... In Poland We find explosives very often, so... i do know I'm right.
    Choice is Your's, do what You think is the best to do.

    Take a look at My favorite one....
    My wife had found it.
    Still remains where She found it, but a little deeper....
    Reasonable people in Poland don't even think of taking explosives home. Its obvious, that such a find can go off any time.

    Pozdrawiam Matejko



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    "Never give up Your purpose, even if getting to it takes time... Time will pass anyway..."
    'Pozdrawiam" means "Greetings" in Polish.

  7. #7
    us
    Tesoro Cibola

    Jul 2005
    Massachusetts
    Tesoro Cibola
    3,020
    16 times

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    I used to make homemade fireworks and explosives when i was little. Black powder has 3 ingredients: potasium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur. WATER MAKES BLACKPOWDER BURN FASTER THERE FOR MAKING IT MORE DANGEROUS. when the powder gets wet the potassium nitrate is water soluble and this allows it to get into the porous charcoal making it burn faster and be more powerfull, so be carefull when taking apart shells, because even the most primitive powder can be deadly when in a closed container.

  8. #8

    Oct 2004
    188
    2 times

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    OK, well here is the good news. I tried to light what I had and no go (a very samll piece!). It would not burn. Also nothing when tapped, hit then smashed with a hammer.

    Of course this is just what happened (or didin't) with mine... Do not try this at home kids.

    Best of luck to everyone.

    Rich

  9. #9
    us
    Tesoro Cibola

    Jul 2005
    Massachusetts
    Tesoro Cibola
    3,020
    16 times

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    Glad to hear you find is safe 8) That grenade looks cool, but like matejko said, really risky cleanin these things.... Iv never found anything that needed "disarming" luckily. Yea blackpowder can be dangerous if you dont know anything about it, When i was younger I took a whole pile(enough to fill a coffee can) and lit it all, Blew me back a few feet, never tried that one again! lol.

  10. #10

    Oct 2004
    188
    2 times

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    Jake,

    Glad we grew up safe, huh? I once (when I was 14) lit a pile of black powder with a friend. I was right over it, and he was standing above me. The fireball went around my head and burned all of the hair on and around his face. I was untouched. Go figure.

    One more photo.
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  11. #11
    us
    Tesoro Cibola

    Jul 2005
    Massachusetts
    Tesoro Cibola
    3,020
    16 times

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    That is one awesome nade 8)

  12. #12
    us
    Nov 2004
    Bounty Hunter Pioneer 505
    613
    9 times

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    HHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Even wet powder will still go off.? Black powder can still be ignited even when wet, but rather then a flash you have a slower burning effect.? I have even talked to a guy that shot origanal 1880's era 45-70 mil-ball? Loaded in the 1880's.? Be very careful when messing with old ordnances. BTW I dont think that black powder will ever go bad un less it gets wet enough times to seperate out the base componets.
    BH 505
    4" Coil
    8" Coil
    10" Coil

  13. #13
    us
    discovering & preserving our past for future generations

    Dec 2004
    Aquapulse, DetectorPro Headhunter, Fisher F75
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    Shipwrecks

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    The gunpowder, even after 300 years, can still be voltile! I found this hand grenade on the 1715 fleet and it was loaded with gunpowder and ready to go.
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  14. #14

    Dec 2003
    Western Schuylkill County, Pa.
    2 MINELAB EXPLORER SE PRO's .......3 Garrett Pro Pointers…… Sovereign XS-2 Pro ....... 2 Sovereign GT's
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    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    CONSERVATOR,

    You Brought up Electrolysis.

    ? ?I always Wondered IF I find a Hand Gun that is Rusted Very Bad,

    ? ?If this Gun Is Loaded & I put it In Electrolysis.

    ? Can the Proccess Set it off ?

    ? ? ?My Guess Has always Been Yes. But I'v never Been Absolutely Shure.
    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

  15. #15

    Oct 2004
    188
    2 times

    Re: Gunpowder and exploding cannon balls

    I have extremely good preservation techniques. I feel it is a crime to let any artifact degrade.

    Here are two of my reverse electrolysis tanks.

    I am not really ready to report our findings yet, but since we are on the subject;

    If you ever find an iron artifact, immediately soak it in Salt Away (West Marine always has it). When you remove the encrustation, also soak it in Salt Away. This is especially good advice for someone not ready to set up reverse electrolysis. More on this soon. We are still compiling data.

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