About 850 years ago, Chinese alchemists experimented with chemicals in hopes to discover the elixir of life; however, they discovered the secret of making gunpowder instead.
Gunpowder and later explosives have been an inseparable part of warfare from that time onwards. The original gunpowder consisted of three components – saltpetre or potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulphur. The potassium nitrate is the source of oxygen needed for burning and also ensures that the reaction is rapid; the charcoal and sulphur are fuel. Gunpowder reached Europe in mid-13th century.