Potassium Nitrate from Gunpowder

Potassium nitrate, which is a white crystalline compound also known as saltpeter, is the chief ingredient of black powder, the first type of gunpowder ever utilized. Many credit the invention of the explosive substance to the Chinese, who used it to create fireworks and signals as early as the tenth century, but black powder may also be of Arabic origin. Indeed, it is generally agreed upon that it was the Arabs who first used potassium nitrate-based black powder in a device that could be truly considered a gun. Modern guns look little like this early bamboo weapon reinforced with steel, but are no less deadly. In fact, technological improvements of guns, along with the development of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin types of gunpowder, have made guns more powerful and precise weapons than ever before.

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