Uses for Gunpowder

by Beau Prichard

Gunpowder was invented in China. Its first written mention was in 142 A.D.; it was referred to as a powder that lit up and danced. It spread around the world as an explosive, but since then has come to be used for many things.

Firearms

The most common and obvious use for gunpowder, or black powder, was in gun cartridges to expel and propel bullets. It has since been replaced by smokeless powder.

Special Effects

Different varieties of gunpowder in different concentrations are often used to add explosions or smoke to special effects in movies, television and stage productions.

Explosives

One of the oldest and most traditional uses for gunpowder, when lit in a contained environment, was to create an explosion. This was often used for mining.

Fireworks

One of the first Chinese uses for gunpowder was in conjunction with other chemicals to create explosive, colorful visuals in fireworks.

Fuses

Gunpowder is frequently used as an ingredient in fuses, both for fireworks and explosives.

Medicine

For decades, field medics have used the gunpowder from bullets to cauterize wounds in emergency situations.

About the Author

Beau Prichard has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He specializes in fiction, travel and writing coaching. He has traveled in the United Kingdom, Europe, Mexico and Australia. Prichard grew up in New Zealand and holds a Bachelor of Arts in writing from George Fox University.