When Was Gunpowder Invented In Ancient China?(16 Answers)

Gun powder also goes by the name black powder and is made with materials that burn rapidly and explode as a propellant. To distinguish between Gun Powder and other forms of black powder, you will notice that other forms of black powder have a coarser texture, while the gun powder has a finer and pure texture.

Gunpowder Meaning

Gunpowder is an explosive powder normally used in guns and in blasting. It can also be defined as the various kinds of powders used in guns as propelling charges.

Gunpowder is a type of explosive mixture that is typically used as a propellant in firearms and other weapons. It is also known as black powder, and is made up of a mixture of saltpeter (potassium nitrate), charcoal, and sulfur. The exact proportions of each ingredient can vary depending on the intended use of the gunpowder. When ignited, gunpowder rapidly combusts, creating a large amount of gas that propels a bullet or other projectile out of the weapon. The invention of gunpowder in China in the 9th century revolutionized warfare and had a profound impact on world history. Today, gunpowder is still used in a variety of military and civilian applications, including firearms, fireworks, and blasting.

What is Gunpowder Made of?

Gun powder is made from a combination of potassium nitrate, sulfur, and carbon/Charcoal. The main ingredient used in the making of the gun powder, “Saltpeter,” had been used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes. However, since it was discovered to cause fires it was then used for warfare.

Gunpowder, also known as black powder, is an explosive mixture made up of three main components: saltpeter (potassium nitrate), charcoal, and sulfur.

The saltpeter provides the oxygen necessary for combustion, while the charcoal provides the fuel and the sulfur lowers the ignition temperature and makes the mixture more stable.

The exact proportions of each ingredient can vary depending on the intended use of the gunpowder, but the most common recipe is a 74.8% saltpeter, 13.3% charcoal, and 11.9% sulfur mixture.

The ingredients are first ground separately into fine powders and then mixed together in the proper proportions. This mixture is then moistened with water and kneaded into a dough-like consistency, which is then shaped into grains or pellets.

The resulting gunpowder is highly flammable and explosive, and has been used throughout history as a propellant for firearms, rockets, and other weapons.

History of Gunpowder

Who Invented Gunpowder in Ancient ChinaAlchemist Wei Boyang who is believed to have come from the Tang Dynasty discovered saltpeter which is the main ingredient used when making gun powder. And with further research and experimentation, saltpeter was combined with sulfur and charcoal. Much to the alchemist’s surprise, the combination of the three powders had outstanding flammable and explosive qualities when ignited.

Notable is that gunpowder was initially used by the Chinese people for fireworks, and it was also adopted for use in war. In Ancient China the effectiveness of the gun powder was first seen when it was used on Mongols. To ensure effectiveness an arrow was affixed with a tube of gun powder, it ignited and propelled itself over to the enemies.

Remember that as the gun powder was invented it was meant to be a portion of life but ended up being the main ingredient for death.

When Was Gunpowder Invented- gun powder was first invented in China during the first millennium AD.

What Dynasty Was Gunpowder InventedThe earliest reference for gun powder was made in 142 AD which was during the Eastern Han Dynasty.

When Was Gunpowder Invented in Ancient China- gun powder is among the four great inventions from China and it came into existence during the late Tang Dynasty. Notable is that the earliest recorded chemical formula for the gun powder goes as far back as the Song Dynasty (960-1270).

Why Was Gunpowder Invented- gunpowder was originally developed to be used for medicinal purposes by the Taoists. Information about the experimental medicine’s origin is available in its Chinese name Huoyao and which can be translated to mean fire medicine. Important to note is that the Chinese had knowledge of saltpeter since the mid-1st century AD. And that it was produced in Shandong, Sichuan, and Shanxi provinces. Saltpeter and sulfur were also used in medicine combinations in China

Later on, the Song military engineers used gunpowder in siege warfare and which encouraged the creation of the earliest types of bombs, cannons, rockets, and mines. In the earliest times gun powder was used for recreational purposes, and the emperors, therefore, created the gunpowder to be used for the fireworks display. The reason for the above is that the Chinese believed that the gunpowder could scare away evil spirits.

Who Brought Gunpowder to Europe- Europeans got gun powder from the Mongols of China in the 13th Century. Besides, gun powder was highly used in Europe in the middle ages thanks to the extensive use of explosives and guns by the Mongols. The above is however still a theory because it is also believed that the Europeans could have gotten the gun powder through interaction with the Arab Muslim world.

Notable is that the Muslims are believed to have acquired the knowledge of gun powder in the time ranging between 1240 and 1280. At this time there were written texts that documented the procedure for purifying salt pepper. The texts were comprehensive as they also contained descriptions of gunpowder incendiaries.

The author of the text used terms that suggested he had derived the knowledge from Chinese texts, meaning that the knowledge of gun powder came with the Chinese. The Muslim author incorporated in the extensive texts up to 107 gun powder recipes, 22 of which were to be used specially on rockets.

If we, however, stick with the theory of the Mongol invasion. It has been recorded in the books of history that the Mongols had become a violent society and their constant conquest and invasions facilitated the spread of the gun powder to other parts of the world.

What’s more, it is believed that the technology reached the Middle East by the 13th century and during this time both the crusaders and Traders had knowledge of its existence. After the gun powder had landed in Europe it was upgraded to work even better. The Europeans then started adding liquid to the mixture, and the gun powder then formed a paste that would later dry up and was ground into balls. The resulting balls were branded “cornered powder.”

The European invention greatly enhanced the use of bombs and guns, as the dried paste derived from the gun powder ensured that almost all the ingredients incorporated in its manufacture exploded as one. Ancient texts also mention the use of gun powder weapons by the Mongols, in China against the Song, Jin, and during the invasion of Japan.

How Is Gunpowder Made In Ancient China?

Gunpowder, also known as black powder, was first developed in ancient China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). The formula for gunpowder was kept secret for many centuries, but it eventually spread throughout the world and became a major factor in the development of warfare.

The basic ingredients of gunpowder are saltpeter (potassium nitrate), charcoal, and sulfur. In ancient China, these ingredients were obtained through a variety of methods.

Saltpeter was produced by collecting urine and dung from stables and mixing it with straw and other organic materials. The mixture was then left to decompose for several months, after which the resulting liquid was drained off and boiled to extract the saltpeter.

Charcoal was made by burning wood in a low-oxygen environment. This produced a black, porous material that could be ground into a fine powder.

Sulfur was obtained from natural deposits or from the distillation of certain minerals.

Once the ingredients had been obtained, they were ground into fine powders and mixed together in the proper proportions. The resulting mixture was then wetted with water or another liquid and kneaded into a paste.

The paste was then rolled into long strips, which were left to dry in the sun. Once dry, the strips were broken into small pieces and then ground into a fine powder.

This final powder was then ready for use in fireworks or as a propellant for firearms.

The production of gunpowder was a highly specialized and closely guarded process in ancient China. The formula for gunpowder was a state secret, and those who knew it were highly respected and well-compensated. Despite this secrecy, however, the knowledge of gunpowder eventually spread throughout the world and changed the course of human history.

How Gunpowder Was Invented

The gun powder was invented by accident because the initial objective of the Alchemist was not to invent a gun powder rather an elixir of immortality. The Chinese Alchemist instead discovered saltpeter, and with advanced experimentation but now using charcoal and sulfur he ended up inventing the gun powder. The father of alchemy, later on, wrote about the substance with gun powder-like properties.

Taoist sage Ge Hong, a Chinese alchemist and inventor who lived during the Jin dynasty, is credited with developing gunpowder, also known as black powder (265-420 CE). Saltpeter (potassium nitrate), sulphur, and charcoal are the three main components that make up gunpowder. The recipe and proportions of these ingredients change with purpose and effect.

Evidence of gunpowder’s use as a medicine, particularly for the treatment of skin and internal diseases, dates back to at least the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). Its explosive properties were quickly discovered, however, and it was put to use in the military for things like firing projectiles and rockets from bamboo tubes.

There are no surviving records of the process by which gunpowder was developed, so its exact invention is a mystery. Saltpeter was previously only known for its uses as a food preservative and fertiliser, but it is now believed that Ge Hong discovered its explosive properties. He observed that the combination of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal resulted in an intense flame and a loud explosion.

The Chinese were quick to realise gunpowder’s military potential and incorporate it into a wide variety of weaponry, including flamethrowers, bombs, and rockets. In addition to its practical applications, it was also put to use in fireworks and excavation.

Arab merchants brought gunpowder to Europe in the 13th century, where it was quickly adopted and used to create more sophisticated firearms and explosives. The development of gunpowder changed warfare forever and had far-reaching consequences for human civilization, influencing everything from the rise and fall of empires to the emergence of modern culture.

How Gunpowder was made

Gunpowder was made by mixing charcoal, potassium nitrate, and elemental sulfur with the exact ratios varying from country to country. There are texts that provide encyclopedia references to different gun powder combinations and which included petrochemicals, honey, and garlic. It was, however, noted that the combined chemicals in the text had not incorporated enough amounts of saltpeter that would enable the creation of explosives. However, it contained at least 50% of the saltpeter that could cause fires.

What Is Gunpowder Used For In Ancient China

In ancient China Gun powder was used in warfare, to make it work, the Chinese wrapped small packages of gunpowder in paper and then attached it to arrows, and then lit it with a fuse. The Chinese also made bombs with gun powder, combined it with scrap iron, and with the aid of catapults they launched the weapons.

Alchemy: Ancient Chinese emperors constantly sought methods of immortality, such as Qin Shihuang. Taoist alchemists invented alchemy, hoping to produce an elixir of life. By putting different substances into the alchemy furnace, they inadvertently invented gunpowder.

Making Fireworks and Firecrackers: During major Chinese festivals, lighting fireworks and firecrackers has been a tradition for thousands of years to increase the festive atmosphere. Initially, burning bamboo was used to drive away a monster called “Nian,” but after the invention of gunpowder, the Chinese realized that the power of gunpowder explosions far exceeded that of burning bamboo, leading to the invention of fireworks and firecrackers.

Making Weapons: During the Song Dynasty, the development of gunpowder weapons advanced rapidly. According to the “Song Shi” record, in 970 AD, the official historian Feng Jisheng submitted a rocket technique, which tied a gunpowder tube to the front end of an arrow shaft. After ignition, the gas ejected from the burning gunpowder pushed the arrow cluster out, creating the world’s earliest jet-propelled firearm. In 1000 AD, the soldier-turned-Shenwei captain Tang Fu presented his developed firearms, such as rockets, fireballs, and caltrops, to the Song court. In 1002 AD, the Jizhou Tuanlian’s leader Shi Pu also made rockets, fireballs, and other firearms and demonstrated their capabilities.

Why Was Gunpowder Invented

ancient chinese firearms

The gun powder was originally invented to be used by the Taoists for medicinal purposes, and its first use was during the warfare in 904 AD. However, there are no reliable texts documenting its use in warfare more so against the Tanguts, besides China was at peace during the 11th century.

Gun powder had, however, already been used on the fire arrows, since the 10th century. And the first military use of the gun powder has been recorded to be 904 where it was used as the incendiary projectile.

How the Gun Powder Worked

One thing to understand about the gun powder is that it does not detonate instead it burns quickly. The above effect works perfectly when the powder is used in a propellant device, more especially if one does not desire an action that would shatter the gun and proceed to harm the operator.

How Best Can Gun Powder Be Used?

Gun powder is best suited for bursting charges, blank rounds, rescue line launches, and in signaling flares. It can also be adopted for use in certain special effects. And it also works well when lifting shells, and in rockets as fuel.

are guns made in china?

According to “Military Records” in the “History of Song Dynasty,” in the year 970 AD, the official Feng Jisheng introduced the rocket method to the Ministry of War. This method involved attaching a tube of gunpowder to the front of an arrow shaft, which, when ignited, would use the reactive force of the gas expelled by the burning gunpowder to shoot the arrow forward. This was the earliest recorded example of a jet-propelled firearm in the world. In the year 1000 AD, the soldier and captain of the Shenwei Guard, Tang Fu, presented to the Song court his own creations of firearms such as rockets, fireballs, and fire lances. In the year 1002 AD, the military drillmaster of Jizhou, Shi Pu, also made rockets and fireballs, and put on a demonstration. The appearance of gunpowder weapons on the battlefield marked the beginning of a series of changes in military history, transitioning from the use of cold weapons to firearms. The early gunpowder weapons recorded in the “Comprehensive Collection of Military Techniques” were still within the scope of traditional fire weapons. With the development of gunpowder and gunpowder weapons, they gradually transitioned to using the explosive properties of gunpowder, primarily for siege warfare. In the year 1126 AD, Li Gang defended Kaifeng by using thunderclap bombs to repel the besieging Jin army. The wars between the Jin and Northern Song dynasties further improved the technology of gunpowder weapons, and the Zhentianlei was an explosive iron weapon. During the Southern Song dynasty, cylindrical firearms appeared, and in the year 1132 AD, Chen Gui invented the fire lance.

gunpowder in Chinese medicine

Gunpowder has been used as a treatment for a number of ailments in TCM for hundreds of years. Gunpowder, a mixture of potassium nitrate, sulphur, and charcoal, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to alleviate symptoms like a sore throat, fever, and skin infections.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), gunpowder has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties due to its cooling and detoxifying properties. It’s also thought to boost the body’s innate healing abilities by increasing qi (vital energy) and blood flow.

Gunpowder is frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat skin infections like boils and carbuncles. It is believed that a poultice or plaster made from gunpowder will help draw out toxins and speed healing when applied topically to the affected area.

Traditional Chinese Medicine prescribes gunpowder for a sore throat and fever. It is commonly used in herbal teas and decoctions, often in combination with other herbs like honeysuckle and chrysanthemum. Inflammation, pain, and healing can all be improved with this combination.

Gunpowder has been used for centuries in TCM, but its effectiveness for most conditions is not well supported by scientific evidence. Before using gunpowder or any other herbal remedy, it is best to speak with a trained TCM professional.

when did gunpowder come to Europe?

Gunpowder was first introduced to Europe in the 13th century, likely through interactions with the Mongol Empire. The earliest known mention of gunpowder in Europe comes from Roger Bacon, an English philosopher and scientist who wrote about its potential military uses in his Opus Majus, completed around 1267. Gunpowder was initially used in Europe primarily for military purposes, including cannons, firearms, and explosives. However, its use eventually spread to other areas such as mining, fireworks, and later on, in various industrial processes.

how did gunpowder come to Europe?

Gunpowder was first created in China in the 9th century using a combination of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal. Fireworks, signal flares, and eventually weapons were all uses for gunpowder among the Chinese.

During the Mongol invasions of the Middle East in the 13th century, it is likely that gunpowder was first introduced to the region. Then, via various sea routes and wars, it made its way to Europe.

In the middle of the 14th century, during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, gunpowder was first used in Europe. The English defeated the French knights with the help of gunpowder weapons like cannons and handguns.

Gunpowder rapidly rose to prominence as an essential technology in warfare, inspiring novel strategies and weaponry. Its influence extended beyond the battlefield to the political system as a whole, contributing to the consolidation of monarchies at the expense of feudal lords.

Over the course of several centuries, gunpowder made its way to Europe, propelled by commerce, conquest, and the search for better weapons.

how did gunpowder change the world?

Gunpowder had a profound impact on the world, shaping military strategy, international relations, and even social and economic systems. Here are some ways in which gunpowder changed the world:

Revolutionized warfare: Gunpowder weapons, such as cannons and firearms, transformed the nature of warfare, making traditional tactics and fortifications obsolete. The use of gunpowder in warfare gave armies the ability to destroy walls and fortifications, leading to the rise of open-field battles and the decline of castle warfare. This also led to the rise of centralized states, as monarchs could better control their armies and protect their territories.

Facilitated European exploration and colonization: Gunpowder weapons allowed European powers to conquer and subjugate much of the world, from the Americas to Asia and Africa. This led to the formation of vast colonial empires and the exploitation of natural resources and labor in those regions.

Advanced science and technology: The development and refinement of gunpowder required advances in chemistry, metallurgy, and engineering, which in turn led to other technological and scientific advancements. The need for more efficient and accurate guns also spurred the development of new manufacturing techniques, such as interchangeable parts.

Changed social structures: The use of gunpowder in warfare favored centralized states over feudal lords, leading to the decline of feudalism and the rise of nation-states. This also led to changes in social structures and power dynamics within those states.

Revolutionized culture: The use of gunpowder in fireworks and celebrations created new forms of artistic expression, from pyrotechnic displays to military music. Gunpowder also played a role in literary works, such as Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” which featured a submarine powered by gunpowder.

In summary, gunpowder’s impact on the world was multifaceted and far-reaching, transforming military, social, economic, and cultural systems across the globe.

how did gunpowder affect the economy?

Gunpowder had a significant impact on the economy throughout history. Here are a few ways in which gunpowder affected the economy:

Military spending: The development and use of gunpowder led to increased military spending, as nations sought to equip their armies with firearms and artillery. This resulted in the growth of military industries and the creation of new jobs, particularly in the production of gunpowder and firearms.

Trade: The production and trade of gunpowder and firearms became a lucrative business, as countries sought to equip their armies with the latest technology. The production of gunpowder required large amounts of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal, which were often imported from other countries.

Colonialism: The development of firearms and gunpowder played a significant role in the colonization of the Americas and other parts of the world. European countries used their military technology to conquer and subjugate native populations, and to gain control over valuable resources and trade routes.

Industrialization: The production of gunpowder and firearms played a significant role in the industrialization of many countries. The development of new manufacturing techniques and machinery to produce firearms and gunpowder paved the way for the development of other industries, such as textiles and machinery.

In summary, gunpowder had a profound impact on the economy, leading to increased military spending, the growth of military industries, the development of new manufacturing techniques, and the rise of colonial powers.


The invention of the gun powder and the discovery that it could ignite, encountered a twist when it came to its use.  For the gun powder to work as an explosive, it was mandatory for all the ingredients to be measured precisely, so that the mixture could ignite and explode. Meaning that individuals who wanted to use the gun powder had to perfect on the formula that actually made it work. Thus according to the Arabian documents printed in the 13th century, the precise ratio was 1 part Sulfur, 9 parts Saltpeter, and 3 parts charcoal.

The use of the gun powered and its distribution across the globe can be solely credited to the Chinese. And while there might not be evidence of their constant use outside of China, there is clear evidence that it was in China and in the invasion of Japan. Gun Powder has over time undergone modification to enhance its functionality and this was seen when it landed in the hands of the Europeans. We must also note that there is enough evidence that supports the invention of the gun powder by the Chinese but the manner in which it was taken to the Western world is yet to be revealed.


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