One of the first true explosives is know as gunpowder, or black
powder. Gunpowder is made up of three chemicals, 10% sulfur, 15%
charcoal, and 75% saltpeter (potassium nitrate). It is generally though to
have originated in China as early as the 9th century. The Chinese used it
to make fireworks. The Arabs learned about gunpowder by the 13th
century, and Europe was introduced to it in the 14th century.
Gunpowder is very explosive. The slightest spark, mechanically or
electrically produced, will set it off. Gunpowder should be produced with
extreme caution. Gunpowder was originally mixed by hand and crushed into
fine particles with wooden stamps. Over time the wooden stamps were
replaced by metal ones and water power was used. However, explosions
often occurred. It is much safer today though. The charcoal and sulfur are
mixed by the tumbling action of steel balls in a rotating hollow cylinder.
The saltpeter is crushed separately and then mixed and ground with the
other ingredients. After all of the crushing the powder is pressed into
cakes, then separated into grains of specific size. Then the grains are
tumbled in wooden cylinders to wear off rough edges. After this process
the powder is coated with graphite to create a friction-reducing,
moisture-resistant film. There are four common granulations, Fg (the
largest), FFg, FFFg, and FFFFg. They are separated by using different size
vibrating screens. The powder is then packaged and ready to sell.
One of the main ingredients in old-fashioned gunpowder is called
saltpeter, or potassium nitrate. It can be prepared synthetically, used as
a fertilizer, a food preservative, and it is also used in the manufacturing of
fireworks and matches. In order to make gunpowder it must be mixed with
sulfur and charcoal. Saltpeter is created naturally as the mineral niter,
which is found as a white crust in rocks or caves.
Black powder was introduced to America in around 1675. The powder
was of very low quality. England still restricted the people in America to
manufacture or accumulate black powder. It was not until the American
Revolution that small mills sprang up in the forests to aid the American
cause. After the war, the powder mills continued, but English powder still
was better in quality. All of this stayed the same until Ir,n,, DuPont
decided that America needed to improve its powder industry. The first
Dupont powder was produced in 1804. It became the United States leading
powder very quickly. Later, Laflin and Rand and the Hazard Powder
company joined together and dominated the industry. The Dupont company
ended in the early 1870s after its plant was destroyed by an explosion.
The company decided to abandon the black powder industry and sold their
entire operation to Gearnhart-Owen.
Gunpowder is a very important thing. Without it it would be very
difficult to hunt, we couldn’t have fireworks, and many other things would
be affected. Throughout the years gunpowder has gotten better and it will
eventually be replaced. Gunpowder has served a very important part of our
lives.




One of the first true explosives is know as gunpowder, or black
powder. Gunpowder is made up of three chemicals, 10% sulfur, 15%
charcoal, and 75% saltpeter (potassium nitrate). It is generally though to
have originated in China as early as the 9th century. The Chinese used it
to make fireworks. The Arabs learned about gunpowder by the 13th
century, and Europe was introduced to it in the 14th century.
Gunpowder is very explosive. The slightest spark, mechanically or
electrically produced, will set it off. Gunpowder should be produced with
extreme caution. Gunpowder was originally mixed by hand and crushed into
fine particles with wooden stamps. Over time the wooden stamps were
replaced by metal ones and water power was used. However, explosions
often occurred. It is much safer today though. The charcoal and sulfur are
mixed by the tumbling action of steel balls in a rotating hollow cylinder.
The saltpeter is crushed separately and then mixed and ground with the
other ingredients. After all of the crushing the powder is pressed into
cakes, then separated into grains of specific size. Then the grains are
tumbled in wooden cylinders to wear off rough edges. After this process
the powder is coated with graphite to create a friction-reducing,
moisture-resistant film. There are four common granulations, Fg (the
largest), FFg, FFFg, and FFFFg. They are separated by using different size
vibrating screens. The powder is then packaged and ready to sell.
One of the main ingredients in old-fashioned gunpowder is called
saltpeter, or potassium nitrate. It can be prepared synthetically, used as
a fertilizer, a food preservative, and it is also used in the