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."

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

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