The Accidental Invention of Gunpowder

An elixir for immortality? Nope, instead a deadly explosive was invented. The mid-9th century Tang Dynasty text that first noted the result of the gunpowder meeting a spark described it as such: "Some have heated together sulfur, realgar and saltpeter with honey; smoke and flames result, so that their hands and faces have been burnt, and even the whole house where they were working burned down."

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal are the ingredients of gunpowder. 00:11

  2. Hear how a Tang Dynasty text from around 850 A.D. described the result of mixing gunpowder with fire: 00:25

  3. The explosiveness of gunpowder occurs when it is enclosed. 02:36

Written by Curiosity Staff June 5, 2015