Urine is not something we typically associate with gun powder, but,according to an article on todayifoundout.com, there are a couple of methods of creating gunpowder that date back to the Civil War era, when men were manufacturing potassium nitrate, which makes up 75% of gun powder, in huge amounts. One of the methods, , involved mixing manure with ashes, straw and urine and was called the French method. The Swiss method involved placing a sandpit below a stable to collect the urine that made it to the sand. The urine would then be harvested in the same means as the French method.
Today, survivalists and gun enthusiasts are known to make their own gunpowder. One of the recommended methods of getting the potassium nitrate includes:
to put a lot of manure in a large drum with a drain, valve and filter screen installed at the bottom. Pee into it. Freely. Then add water for a total of about 300 gallons of yuck. Place it in a safe spot (far away from the house, if possible). After 10 months, pour it out onto shallow trays to dry.
Separately with a mortar and pestle or hand-cranked mill, grind charcoal (all natural, no Match Light) to a powder and set aside. Do the same with sulfur, which can be purchased in home and garden stores. Finally, grind the potassium nitrate. Experts warn not to grind the ingredients all together, since that would possibly explode in your hands.
If that isn’t surprising you, mixing the three powders together then adding a little stale urine until the mixture has the consistency of biscuit dough is the recommended way to store it.
Think about that the next time you’re in a port-a-pody–imagine all the potassium nitrate you could make for your gunpowder from that!
(Info via todayifoundout.com; Cover photo: smithsonianmag.com)