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Depends on the powder and (mostly) on how it's been stored.
If it's gotten damp from humidity in the air, or it's been stored in hot conditions, or in non-original containers, it can deteriorate quickly.

Most modern powder has a shelf life of at least 10 years.
Some people say to smell it. If it smells like Acetone or alcohol it's good, if it smells like acid it's bad.
Personally, I don't think the "smell test" is worth your life.

Best option: If it's more then 10 years old...DON'T use it. Life is short enough as is, no need to shorten it further by saving a few dollars and having a gun blow up in your face.

I'd suggest taking it out in an open field and spreading it out in a long, thin trail and igniting it to let it safely burn up.

If he also has primers, they are also likely not safe to use either. DON'T burn them.
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