Gunpowder, also known as black powder, is a chemical explosive—the earliest known. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate (saltpeter). 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 in firearms and as a pyrotechnic composition in fireworks. Formulations used in blasting rock (such as in quarrying) are called blasting powder. Gunpowder is mainly used in old guns now because the propellants used today are too powerful and could break the already fragile barrels.
Gunpowder was invented in China when Taoists attempted to create a potion of immortality. Chinese military forces used gunpowder-based weapons (i.e. rockets, guns, cannons) and explosives (i.e. grenades and different types of bombs) against the Mongols when the Mongols attempted to invade and breach city fortifications on China's northern borders. After the Mongols conquered China and founded the Yuan Dynasty, they used the Chinese gunpowder-based weapons technology in their attempted invasion of Japan; they also used gunpowder to fuel rockets.
Maria Christina Bruhn was a Swedish inventor, likely to be the first patented female inventor of her country.In 1771, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences offered a reward for anyone who would be able to produce a suitable package for gunpowder for the army. During her work manufacturing paint and preparing paper, she had been inspired to the idea which she presented to the academy 2 March 1774. In a letter form 1783, she explained that she often experimented during her work. The men of the Academy expressed deep scepticism against the invention of a woman, and it took twelve years of testing, during which she had to fight among others the attempts of Anrep, General of the Artillery, to take credit for her invention, before the ministry of war approved it, recognised her as its inventor and gave her the reward in 1786. Her invention was long used within the Swedish army.