The composition of black powder or gunpowder is not set. In fact, several different compositions have been used throughout history. Here's a look at some of the most notable or common compositions, plus the composition of modern black powder.
Black Powder BasicsThere's nothing complicated about the formulation of black powder. It consists of charcoal (carbon), saltpeter (potassium nitrate or sometimes sodium nitrate), and sulfur.
Notable Black Powder CompositionsTypical modern gunpowder consists of charcoal, saltpeter, and sulfur in a 6:1:1 or 6:1.2:0.8 ratio. Historically significant formulations have been calculated on a percentage basis:
|Bishop Watson, 1781||75.0||15.0||10.0|
|British Government, 1635||75.0||12.5||12.5|
|Bruxelles studies, 1560||75.0||15.62||9.38|
|Arderne lab, 1350||66.6||22.2||11.1|
|Roger Bacon, c. 1252||37.50||31.25||31.25|
|Marcus Graecus, 8th century||69.22||23.07||7.69|
|Marcus Graecus, 8th century||66.66||22.22||11.11|