Originally mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur, it now refers to various powders used in firearms as explosive propellent. See smokeless gunpowder.

The famous quasi-fascist poet Ezra Pound was known to remark that the sale of guns and gunpowder is the only business where the demand for your product increases the more the market is saturated with it.

A Civilization advance.
Gunpowder is a chemical mixture of saltpeter, sulphur, and charcoal. When ignited, it burns so rapidly that it explodes if contained to any degree. Gunpowder is believed to have been developed by the Chinese as early as the ninth century, but it did not reach Europe until the 1300s. The Chinese appear to have used it almost exclusively for fireworks, but the competitive and aggressive Europeans turned it into weapons that revolutionized warfare.
Prerequisites: Invention and Iron Working.
Allows for: Explosives and Metallurgy.

Gun"pow`der (?), n. Chem.

A black, granular, explosive substance, consisting of an intimate mechanical mixture of niter, charcoal, and sulphur. It is used in gunnery and blasting.

⇒ Gunpowder consists of from 70 to 80 per cent of niter, with 10 to 15 per cent of each of the other ingredients. Its explosive energy is due to the fact that it contains the necessary amount of oxygen for its own combustion, and liberates gases (chiefly nitrogen and carbon dioxide), which occupy a thousand or fifteen hundred times more space than the powder which generated them.

Gunpowder pile driver, a pile driver, the hammer of which is thrown up by the explosion of gunpowder. -- Gunpowder plot Eng. Hist., a plot to destroy the King, Lords, and Commons, in revenge for the penal laws against Catholics. As Guy Fawkes, the agent of the conspirators, was about to fire the mine, which was placed under the House of Lords, he was seized, Nov. 5, 1605. Hence, Nov. 5 is known in England as Guy Fawkes Day. -- Gunpowder tea, a species of fine green tea, each leaf of which is rolled into a small ball or pellet.

 

© Webster 1913.

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