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Buying, selling and storing smokeless powder

Smokeless powder is a type of propellant powder. It is a single-based or double-based colloidal nitrocellulose mixture. It is extremely flammable and can easily ignite and burn under normal conditions. Under specific conditions, smokeless powder can detonate. (Smokeless powders are classified under the Explosives Regulations as Type P.2.)

The following guidance is for anyone involved with smokeless powder. For situations not covered here, including exemptions and conditions, consult the Explosives Regulations.

Buying smokeless powder

You are permitted to buy smokeless powder if you are 18 or older unless otherwise exempted by the Explosives Regulations. For storing more than 75 kilograms of smokeless 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 smokeless powder

Storage requirements for users

Smokeless powder must be stored in its original packaging or in ammunition (small arms cartridges).

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

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

Dwelling

The amount of smokeless 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 black powder. You are permitted to store up to 25 kilograms of propellant powder (smokeless powder and black powder combined), but the amount of black powder must be 10 kilograms or less.

You are permitted to store up to 5 kilograms of smokeless powder in an attached dwelling (such as a house, apartment or cottage) if it is in containers that are greater than 1 kilogram.

You are permitted to store up to 20 kilograms of smokeless powder in an attached dwelling if it is in containers that are 1 kilogram or less.

You are permitted to store up to 25 kilograms of smokeless powder in a detached dwelling or a storage unit that is attached to a detached dwelling. This amount includes all the propellant powders at the dwelling.

You must store the smokeless powder 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 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

If you hold an explosives licence, you are permitted to buy and store more than 75 kilograms of smokeless powder you intend to sell.

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 (smokeless powder or black powder). This notice must include your name, address, telephone number, fax number and email address, as well as the date on which you will begin to sell propellant powder.

If you do not hold a licence, the smokeless 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 smokeless powder that is not displayed for sale must be stored in the magazine specified in your licence. An explosives licence is always required if you are a distributor.

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

Dwelling

The following information applies to retailers and distributors that store smokeless powder in a dwelling.

You are permitted to store up to 5 kilograms of smokeless powder you intend to sell in an attached dwelling if the containers are greater than 1 kilogram gross mass.

You are permitted to store up to 20 kilograms of smokeless powder you intend to sell in an attached dwelling if the containers are 1 kilogram gross mass or less.

You are permitted to store up to 25 kilograms of smokeless powder you intend to sell in a detached dwelling or a storage unit attached to a detached dwelling. This amount includes any black powder being stored at the dwelling.

When stored in a dwelling, smokeless 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 propellant powder, whether black powder or smokeless powder, in a storage unit. This is a total amount for all of your storage units combined.

  • 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 smokeless powder

As a retailer, you are permitted to buy, sell and store smokeless powder without an explosives licence.

As a distributor, you must have an explosives licence to sell smokeless 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 smokeless powder you are permitted to display for sale depends on the amount of black powder that is also being displayed. You are permitted to display up to 12 kilograms (including in containers and ammunition) of smokeless powder and black powder combined, which includes up to 500 grams of black powder (including in containers and ammunition).

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

The smokeless 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 smokeless powder (propellant powder) 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 smokeless powder, the maximum quantity authorized by the Regulations is 75 kg.

Identification

Before selling propellant 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 propellant 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 smokeless powder in a licensed magazine:

Contact us

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

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