Gun Powder

An accidental invention that lead us from fearful wars to joyful fireworks


The Mixture


The first explosive was black powder which consists of a mixture of three chemicals namely saltpetre (potassium nitrate), sulphur and charcoal. The proportion of these three compounds granulated and are 75% of saltpetre, 15% of charcoal, and 10% of sulphur. These 3 burns rapidly when ignited and approximately it produces 40% gaseous and 60% solid products, the final result will be in a whitish smoke.



The gas pent-up can be used for propelling a missile using a bullet or artillery shell. Black powder should be ignited by flame or heat because relatively it is insensitive to shock and friction. It has largely been supplanted by smokeless powder as a propellant for ammunition in guns. It is also widely used for ignition charges, primers, fuses, and blank-fire charges in military ammunition.



Also utilized in fireworks, time fuses, signals, squibs, and spatting charges for follow bombs. A secret of saltpeter production in Japan Gun was introduced into Japan from Europe 1543 AD. The gun was a gift from TOKIAKI to a dictator that mediate by HONGANJI. Under the floor of the old Japanese private house, we could find the crystal of saltpeter.



It was being used in fireworks and signals since the 10th century.  It reminded us of a useful explosive for breaking up coal and rock deposits until the early 20th century, replaced by dynamite for most mining purposes.





Black powder was prepared by uniformly mixing from solid ingredients and blending of the saltpeter, charcoal, and sulfur. Earlier handmade methods were used: in those methods mortar and pestle were used to grind the solid ingredients. at the beginning of the 15th century, water-driven crushing devices of wood, commonly known as wooden stamps, came into use to grind the ingredients, and later power-driven metallic crushing devices replaced the wooden stamp mills in the 19th century.



Gun barrel was given excessive pressure during the fast burning of the black powder. Thus the powdered form was used that reduces the heat caused by heating and the firearms were kept the same. The speed of burning varied with the use of different sizes of granules.





In the 19th century, elongated projectiles replaced round balls, and the rifling of gun tubes was adopted to rotate and stabilize the projectile, were black powders started to manufacture in terms to burn even more slowly.