While going through all the things that were in the toolbox and stored under the seat of my new 22 Touring I found 6 road flares. 3 were loose without dates although one had "Jul 2" without a year. Another had a price tag that said 29 cents. And 3 were in a cardboard can that sold for $1.29 (for the can of 3). The 3 flares in the can were all dated December 1960 !!
All the flares seem in pretty good shape no tears or cracks. They are completely sealed.
Do they become unstable? I think the date is a manufacture date - there does not appear to be any expiration dates.
There was a bit of Los Angeles Times newspaper stuffed in the bottom of the can, probably to stop rattling, that was dated August 27, 1961 (one year before I was born
Pat Brown (Edmund Gerald Brown, Sr.) was Governor of California.
"Democrats Discuss 10-Year Future of Party"
"Russian Attack Could Wither NATO Defenses"
"U.S. Wise Men Discuss the Nation's Direction"
"Educated View On World Crises"
Almost sounds like this week's news.
Just in case, I put the flares in a metal coffee can and left them outside but shaded for when the sun comes up in the morning. Too bad the cardboard can label was all rubbed away it would have been nice to put on the bookcase.
My father was a State Trooper in Florida and the State replaced any unused flares after 2 years. Dad would save his and on the 4th of July we would use them as part of our fireworks. (I was so easily entertained when I was young) the main component is sulphur so there is very little chance of any type of explosion but if they get wet they can sputter shooting fireballs for long distances (don't ask how I know) I hope this answers your question.
More than likely they're no good.
I had some that were about 15 years old, and moisture had ruined them. We tried lighting them, they wouldn't light. If they are kept dry they may still work.
If they are stored properly (no moisture, no excessive heat) they will light no matter how old they are.
Try one and report back.
I had a flare in a service tool box for so long that the paper had disintegrated to the point that the chemical was oozing out. It lit and burned completely. I would wager that all the flares in the photo are still good. Government agencies like to throw things out so they can spend more of our money to buy new.
A couple years ago we burnt a box of old flares. They all dated back to the early 70's. We were not sure if they were good or not anymore. Lite each one as designed and tossed them in the campfire one by one. It was a great looking campfire. Everyone preformed flawlessly.
Yes! Light one and take pictures. If at first it doesn't burn, add gasoline.
UPDATE: I stopped by the Fire Dept. on the way home and talked to Capt. Fireman. He said there really aren't any chemicals in road flares that deteriorate with age. As long as they are in good condition (don't get wet, the paper stays sealed and it doesn't get cracked or broken) they should be fine.
As previously noted by others, Capt. Fireman said they also turn over their stock but not because of any flare expiration date - just Dept. policy.
Capt. (pointing to the can in my photo): "They look good. They've been stored in this metal can."
Me: "It's cardboard. The shiny part is the label but it got scraped up."
Capt. (Pointing to the top of the can): "But this part is metal."
Me: "Nope, it's cardboard."
Capt.: "But it's threaded."
Me: "Nope, still cardboard. How old are you?" (he did have a few strands of grey in his hair).
Capt.: "I guess not old enough."
I then explained that in a galaxy far, far away, many products used to come in nifty compressed cardboard containers and the only metal parts were the bottom and the lid that ...yes, screwed on.
The Capt. then said if I was worried I could give them to a tow truck driver because they could use them or save them for 4th of July. Long Beach Fire won't take them as they don't have a way to dispose of them.
It kinda ties in with Burger's very nice affectionate tale of the day-gone-by-garage sale. I sure would have liked Uncle Chet and attending the garage sale.
Since we are recycling so much nowadays why can't we bring back the cardboard containers with the metal lids? Or even the metal containers? Even Band-Aids come in a paper box now. The paper box always gets mushed the lid pops open an all my band-aids fall out....sucks