Black powder “Explosive” history and composition of gunpowder

Not many things have been made. Black powder or black powder is one of those things. Do you have a bow? You’re not a firearm; It’s not a matter of course. But if it doesn’t work, get a gun and get a similar effect. When cannonballs pierce ship sides?

In short, the mass of applications. This is the case for the invention of gunpowder. He left, taking with him millions of lives. It is still effective, it is still a black powder. And this explosive story began quite simply.

Black powder

China, the end of the eighth century AD. Alchemists are experiencing their heyday. It is an alchemist. The Sons of Heaven, especially the Chinese emperors. So most alchemists didn’t have to complain about funding.

It is a process of this kind of work. In fact, the alchemists were not only the prototype of chemists, but the ancestors of pharmacists. But unpleasant incidents often happened …

It has been shown with sulfur, salt and salt. It is not even known if you hapless alchemist survived, because the recipe was not saved or even rediscovered.

And then it was logged in – in the Chinese annals Zhenyuan miaodao yaolue It was a mix of salt, salt, and salt; Not very similar to the elixir of immortality, is it? Much more than you can, of course, to stabilize the formula. It has been shown that it is a black powder. At that time, they were called “fire spears” and were used primarily during the siege of fortresses. But it was a long time fireworks.

Black powder got to Europe much later – in the thirteenth century. Even the legend about it is. According to the German masters of gunners, it was invented by the Chinese masters. But the raises great doubts. Why? Well, if only because of the use of coal, sulfur and nitrate were already known to scientists. About this, for example, wrote the English philosopher Roger Bacon.

It was much more prosaic. It was the Silk Road and the like. It is not clear that there has been a bit of effort. But the Europeans were not immediately able to assess the full potential of gunpowder. It was not a sufficiently strong metal tube. But the beginning of the XIV century, the prototypes had already begun to appear. These were the first signs of global warfare.

The composition of gunpowder

If everything is very simple, then everything is very simple:

  • saltpeter
  • charcoal
  • sulfur

This is the following composition (by weight): 75% saltpeter 15 % charcoal ten% sulfur. Until this period, the powder underwent some changes:


England, 1250 41.2 29.4 29.4
France, 1338 50 25 25
Germany, 1595 52.2 26.1 21.7
France, 1650 75.6 13.6 10.8
England, 1781 75 15 ten

Historically the process making gunpowder at first glance, simple – all pre-dry, grind and mix in a ratio of 75/15/10. But there are some nuances. A lot of nuances to be honest.

Three components of gunpowder

Let’s just say the classic is not perfect. Yes, it will be at a ratio of 65/17/18, where sulfur is 17% and coal is 18%. Oh yeah for the exact dosage pharmacy scales – only they can give the desired accuracy. If it is necessary to experiment with the composition, and most importantly, take precautions.

1. Charcoal

The best option is natural birch or lime coal. You can use activated carbon, although it will be much more expensive. It should not be enough. Coal must be thoroughly crushed – large pieces are broken into smaller pieces. In this case, the dust will be completely volatile.

2. Sulfur

The amount of sulfur is reduced. It can be found at the foot of the track. It doesn’t fit perfectly, because they contain a large amount of unwanted impurities. If there is any need to be crushed.

3. Saltpeter

Not strictly recommended saltpeter – potassium. It is possible to reduce moisture. Ammonium nitrate is generally useless. It must be thoroughly dried. It is necessary to control the process and prevent melting. After drying, the nitre must also be ground.

So, the three finished components are weighed and mixed in the right proportion. Grinding and mixing are used here. The output is uniform fine powder – classic black powder.

Black powder &# 171; Explosive&# 187; history and composition of gunpowder

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