Language selection

Search


Buying, selling and storing black powder

Black powder, also known as gunpowder, is a type of propellant powder. It is an intimate mixture of potassium nitrate, sulphur and charcoal. It is extremely flammable and is very sensitive to outside stimulus such as sparks. Under specific conditions, black powder can detonate. (Black powders are classified under the Explosives Regulations as Type P.1.)

A black powder cartouche (or black powder cartridge) is a type of gunpowder cartridge.

The following guidance is for anyone involved with black powder. For situations not covered here, including exemptions and conditions, consult the Explosives Regulations. For general information about firearms in Canada, see Firearms (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and Firearms (Public Safety Canada).

Buying black powder

You are permitted to buy black powder (gunpowder) if you are 18 or older unless otherwise exempted by the Explosives Regulations. For storing more than 25 kilograms of black powder in a storage unit, you must have an explosives licence. You can apply for an explosives licence through the electronic Licence Management System (eLMS).

Storing black powder

Storage requirements for users

Black powder (gunpowder) must be stored in its original packaging, in ammunition (small arms cartridges) or in black powder cartouches.

If you do not have an explosives licence, black powder must be stored in a dwelling (such as a house, apartment or cottage) or a storage unit.

If you have an explosives licence, black powder must be stored in the magazine specified in your licence. Propellant powder (black powder or smokeless powder) and primers (percussion caps) must be stored in separate magazines. You can apply for an explosives licence through the electronic Licence Management System (eLMS)

Black powder must be stored in its original container in amounts no greater than 500 g of black powder per container.

Dwelling

The amount of black powder you are permitted to store in a detached dwelling (such as a house, or cottage) or a storage unit attached to a detached dwelling depends on whether you are also storing smokeless powder. You are permitted to store up to 10 kilograms of black powder as long as the combined amount of propellant powder (black powder and smokeless powder) is no more than 25 kilograms.

You are permitted to store up to 1 kilogram of black powder in containers in an attached dwelling.

You are permitted to store up to 3 kilograms of black powder contained in ammunition or cartouches (less any quantity in containers) in an attached dwelling.

You are permitted to store up to 10 kilograms of black powder in a detached dwelling or a storage unit that is attached to a detached dwelling.

You must store black powder or black power cartouches away from flammable substances and sources of ignition. You must ensure that they can be accessed only by people you have authorized.

Storage unit

If you do not hold an explosives licence, you are permitted to store up to 75 kilograms of smokeless powder and 25 kilograms of black powder in a storage unit that is not attached to a dwelling, whether in a single unit or several.

  • The storage unit must be located away from flammable substances and sources of ignition;
  • the interior of the storage unit must be kept clean and dry;
  • the storage unit must be constructed and maintained to prevent unauthorized access and to protect the contents from weather;
  • the storage unit must be attended when it is unlocked;
  • if the storage unit is a container, it must not impede exit in case of fire;
  • if the storage unit is not a container, all exits must be kept unobstructed;
  • any shelving in the storage unit must be made from a non-sparking material (for example, wood or painted metal);
  • if small arms cartridges, blank cartridges for tools, unmixed reactive targets or black powder cartouches are stored with propellant powder or percussion caps in the storage unit, they must be stored separately from one another (for example, on different shelves or separated by a wooden barrier);
  • precautions that minimize the likelihood of an ignition or fire in or near the storage unit must be taken; and
  • a sign that displays the words “Danger — Fire Hazard/Risque d’incendie” in letters at least 10 cm high and that prohibits smoking using letters, or a symbol, at least 10 cm high must be posted on the storage unit in a clearly visible location.

Storage requirements for sellers

As a retailer, you are permitted to buy, sell and store black powder (gunpowder) without an explosives licence. You may not store more than 25 kilograms of black powder without a licence. A distributor must have an explosives licence no matter the quantity.

If you do not hold a licence, the black powder that is not displayed for sale must be stored in a storage unit in a sales establishment or a dwelling.

If you hold an explosives licence, the black powder that is not displayed for sale must be stored in the magazine specified in your licence.

Propellant powder (black powder and smokeless powder) and primers (percussion caps) must be stored separately from each other.

Dwelling

The following information applies to retailers and distributors who store black powder in a dwelling.

You are permitted to store up to 1 kilogram of black powder in containers in an attached dwelling.

You are permitted to store up to 3 kilograms of black powder contained in ammunition or cartouches (less any quantity in containers) in an attached dwelling.

You are permitted to store up to 10 kilograms of black powder (including powder in containers, ammunition or cartouches) in a detached dwelling or a storage unit attached to a detached dwelling.

When stored in a dwelling, black powder must be stored away from flammable substances and sources of ignition. You must ensure that it can be accessed only by people you have authorized.

Storage unit

If you do not hold an explosives licence, you are permitted to store up to 75 kilograms of smokeless powder and 25 kilograms of black powder in a storage unit that is not attached to a dwelling, whether in a single unit or several.

  • The storage unit must be located away from flammable substances and sources of ignition;
  • the interior of the storage unit must be kept clean and dry;
  • the storage unit must be constructed and maintained to prevent unauthorized access and to protect the contents from weather;
  • the storage unit must be attended when it is unlocked;
  • if the storage unit is a container, it must not impede exit in case of fire;
  • if the storage unit is not a container, all exits must be kept unobstructed;
  • any shelving in the storage unit must be made from a non-sparking material (for example, wood or painted metal);
  • if small arms cartridges, blank cartridges for tools, unmixed reactive targets or black powder cartouches are stored with propellant powder or percussion caps in the storage unit, they must be stored separately from one another (for example, on different shelves or separated by a wooden barrier);
  • precautions that minimize the likelihood of an ignition or fire in or near the storage unit must be taken; and
  • a sign that displays the words “Danger — Fire Hazard/Risque d’incendie” in letters at least 10 cm high and that prohibits smoking using letters, or a symbol, at least 10 cm high must be posted on the storage unit in a clearly visible location.

Selling black powder

As a retailer, you are permitted to buy, sell and store black powder (gunpowder) without an explosives licence.

As a distributor, you must have an explosives licence to sell black powder to other distributors or retailers. You can apply for an explosives licence through the electronic Licence Management System (eLMS)

If you do not hold an explosives licence, you must send written notice to the Chief Inspector of Explosives before you are permitted to sell propellant powder (black powder or smokeless powder). This notice must include your name, address, telephone number and email address, as well as the date on which you will begin to sell propellant powder.

Displaying for sale

The amount of black powder you are permitted to display for sale depends on the amount of smokeless powder that is also being displayed. You are permitted to display up to 500 grams of black powder (including in containers, ammunition or cartouches), as long as the combined amount of propellant powder (black powder and smokeless powder) is no more than 12 kilograms (including in containers, ammunition or cartouches).

The black powder that is displayed for sale must be in containers that hold up to 500 grams.

The black powder displayed for sale must be kept behind a sales counter or locked up (for example, in a cabinet).

Only people you have authorized can have access to the area behind the sales counter.

Maximum quantities

If the buyer holds an explosives licence, you are permitted to sell them the maximum quantity of black powder (gunpowder) listed on their licence.

If the buyer does not hold an explosives licence, you are permitted to sell them the maximum quantity they are authorized to store under the Explosives Regulations. In the case of black powder, the maximum quantity authorized by the Regulations is 25 kg.

Identification

Before selling black powder to a buyer, the seller must require the buyer to provide their:

  • valid Firearms Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) issued under the Firearms Act; or,
  • valid fireworks operator certificate — pyrotechnician; or
  • in the case of a buyer buying on behalf of a public service agency, the public agency identification number assigned under the Public Agents Firearms Regulations.

Record of sale

You must keep a record of every sale of black powder. The record must be kept for 2 years after the sale. The record must include:

  • the buyer’s name and if applicable the number of the licence issued under the Firearms Act (PAL)
  • the number and expiry of the buyer’s fireworks operator certificate – pyrotechnician, if applicable
  • if applicable the name of the public service agency, the name of the buyer on behalf of the public service agency and the number of the buyer’s public agency identification number assigned under the Public Agents Firearms Regulations
  • in the case of a licensed buyer, the licence number and expiry date
  • the type and product name of the powder sold, the size of the container and the name of the person who obtained its authorization
  • the quantity of powder sold under each product name
  • the date of the sale

More information

Consult the following guidelines on safely storing propellant powders, including black powder (gunpowder), in a licensed magazine:

Contact us

Find contact information for general inquiries or urgent requests related to explosives, fireworks, ammunition or restricted components.

Page details

Date modified: