Chemistry and History

The Chemical Educator

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 205-209

First online:

The History of Saltpeter Production with a Bit of Pyrotechnics and Lavoisier

  • Jaime WisniakAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Email author 

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The early development of saltpeter (potassium nitrate) production is intimately related to the invention of pyrotechnics and gunpowder. The evolution of the industry in France was closely tied to the political events that took place during the period before and after the French Revolution. Lavoisier transformed it from a losing operation to a successful enterprise and in so doing set the beginning of industrial chemistry as we know it today. The DuPont Company was founded as a result of these activities.