Black Powder

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms.

black powder

[¦blak ′pau̇d·ər]
A low explosive consisting of an intimate mixture of potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur.

Black Powder


an explosive propellant, which is obtained by carefully fragmenting and mixing potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur in the proportions (by percentage weight) of 75:15:10.

Black powder is easily ignited and burns rapidly without air to form gases that are able to perform considerable mechanical work. It is one of the oldest explosives. No accurate date has been established for its invention; it was known in Europe by the 13th century and in China no later than the tenth to 11th centuries. For many centuries it was the only explosive used in military affairs. Because of the relatively small heat of explosion (approximately half that of trinitrotoluene), the poor detonation capability, and other drawbacks it was gradually replaced by other explosives. It is used in small quantities to make time fuses, in the extraction of block rubble, and in articles produced by pyrotechnics.


References in periodicals archive ?
Black powder manufacture began in Europe and Asia hundreds of years ago.
Heat makes atoms in black powder rearrange into new compounds, many of which are gases.
One story takes place roughly 2,000 years ago in China, when a cook happened upon the recipe for black powder.
While going through the house looking for my cap, I discovered, to my dismay, I had forgotten to lock the gun cabinet, and my 5-year-old had dumped about a half-pound of black powder on the floor of my closet.
He knew from experience that a hydraulic cat shot was like being rifled into the air with black powder, because it consists of a horrendous, instantaneous slam in the back, rather than a smooth accelerating push.
6 shot and 2 ounces of black powder, the gun would typically blast 80 to 100 ducks out of the sky with a single shot.
The fuel, in the form of a black powder, will explode if it comes into contact with a naked flame.
Coverage is targeted to a wide range of firearms industry risks, including firearms dealers, instructors, gunsmiths, firearms accessory manufacturers, bullet and black powder manufacturers, and trap, skeet and sporting clay fields.
Smokeless powder began to replace the centuries old black powder prior to the turn of the century.
And he gave the Record a catalogue listing dozens of multi- shot black powder pistols which can be bought legally.