MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARTYN F. CHILLMAID / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gunpowder components. Sulphur (yellow), carbon (black) and saltpetre (potassium nitrate, white) in the correct proportions to make gunpowder. Saltpetre-based explosives date back thousands of years to ancient China. Modern gunpowder, in the proportions shown here, is first recorded from the 17th century. The proportions commonly used are saltpetre:carbon:sulphur (15:3:2).
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