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#26 Saltpeter (pot nitrate)

The Don

First, I am not a complaining, always hit the negative
type of person. I do have some 30 years experience in
war gaming and explosives/pyrotechnics and the like.
Saltpeter, or Potassium Nitrate, is a definite
component for gunpowder. However, smokeless
"gunpowders" do NOT use saltpeter. While there is a
somewhat grey area in the change to smokeless powders,
the infantry unit and later do not NEED saltpeter to
operate. Suffice to state, smokeless powders are based
on nitro-celluose (for single base propellants - the
mainstay of rifle, etc ammunition). Sulphur, charcoal
and saltpeter are definitely not required ingredients.
So, in the theme of 'total realism', the dependance of
infantry and above on saltpeter is incorrect. Sadly,
CIV III may in itself be to blame here, as it claimed
that as technology advanced saltpeter became widespread
and therefore the dependence was removed. Truth really
be known, saltpeter is not a mineable compound. It is
derived by treating other "stuff" (read manure, urine)
and this is how early civs gained saltpeter. To me it
is always amazing how we developed some stuff. Who
would have thought of the treatment necessary for the
coffee bean to enable a drinkable cup of coffee for
example. Saltpeter is very much in the same vein.
Therefore, all units from Infantry and above or
equivalent must have their dependance on saltpeter removed.


  • Logged In: YES
    Originator: NO

    I would follow up on this. As I feel (I might be wrong, but still...), when producing gunpowder, most of the time the limiting resource was not saltpeter, but sulfur, and it is quite mineable. So, it might be good to just rename saltpeter to sulfur (the visual component already reflects sulfur quite well). Sulfur also is quite a crucial component for modern chemical industry, so it stays as a goodie even after it is no longer needed for units.

  • Logged In: NO

    The transition to smokeless powder happened largely in the 1890s. All of the famous Mauser actions (94, 96, 98- so, 8mm Mauser, 7mm Mauser, 6.5x55, etc) and actions based on them (U.S. 1903- .30-'06) were designed to use early smokeless powders at least. Other cartridges from the same time were adapted to use smokeless powders (.303 British, 7.62x54R). So, the best way to implement this in game mechanics would be that musketmen and riflemen- whose firearms would be based on blackpowder- require saltpeter, but a later development alleviates the need for saltpeter.