, also known as black powder
, is the earliest known chemical explosive
. It is a mixture of sulfur
, and potassium nitrate
). The sulfur and charcoal act as fuels
, and the saltpeter is an oxidizer
. Because of its burning properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generates, gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant
and as a pyrotechnic composition
. Formulations used in blasting rock (such as in quarrying
) are called blasting powder.
Gunpowder is mainly used in older guns now because the propellants used today are too powerful and could break the already fragile barrels.