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Gunpowder made its appearance in Madrician wars centuries ago, at least since the War that Forgot to End. With time, cannons replaced the loud but ineffective bombards, muskets and rifles took the place of hand-cannons and arquebuses. Firearms became finally more dangerous for the enemy than for the user, and started deciding the result of battles and wars: while in the Forty-Nine Years War pikemen still had a place on the battlefield, in the Juniper War, only a decade later, they had completely disappeared. The obvious consequence of this evolution is that, year after year, armies and navies are requiring more and more gunpowder and, accordingly, more and more raw materials are needed to cope with the demand. As you probably know, the gunpowder in a powder horn, or in the ammunition store of a ship, is a finely ground mixture of saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal. What you probably don’t know, however, is how difficult can be finding or producing the three ingredients: charcoal can be easily obtained burning wood in a buried pit, but sulfur can only be found in a few volcanic areas, such as Astrapi, Charlatan Bay and, as recently discovered, El Oleonda. About saltpeter, well, here you are! For centuries, this white salt was scratched off the walls of caves, cellars, wineries, stables and even latrines, obtaining only little quantities of material, usually of barely acceptable quality. The few mines scattered in Madrician Peninsula, in the Mokolei Empire and in the New World represent the main source of this precious mineral, but their yield is still quite low. However, saltpeter (or potassium nitrate, in modern terms) can also be produced with a complex and quite unpleasant process, probably one of the most disgusting things in the civilized world. Everything begins with carts full of “organic materials”, meaning vegetable waste, garbage, manure, dirty straw from the stables, residues from tanneries or slaughterhouses and so on. The disgusting blend is thrown in a pit lined with stone tiles and mixed thoroughly with earth and ashes. After several days, enough material has accumulated in the pit, and the next step of the process can begin: the material is piled in a fresh and shady place and is kept constantly moist with water and urine. Each nitrary (that is a saltpeter factory) employs a different method for the piling: in general, experience showed that better airflow results in a higher yield. Here, the workers mold the material in small bricks and pile it in a sort of wall, protected from rain and direct sunlight. What happens next remained a mystery for centuries: in their comfortable and warm homes, billions and billions of bacteria live and proliferate, fuelling their tiny lives by slowly turning ammonia and amino acids into valuable nitrates. After a year or two, the transformation process is complete: the workers can so recover the disgusting “bricks”, now simple clods of earth, and begin the extraction process. The material is washed several times with the same water, obtaining a concentrated solution rich in salts. Wood ashes are usually poured inside the solution since this seems to “improve saltpeter quality”, even if the workers don’t know why: actually the potassium carbonate contained converts most of the nitrates in potassium nitrate (the best saltpeter) while removing the useless calcium and magnesium. In the last step, the solution is further refined with a long boiling, that removes other unwanted salts, and then is dried with the aid of the tropical sun. For sure this is not a job for sensitive stomachs since a nitrary can be smelled from miles away… however, at the only cost of some water and some wood, disgusting garbage is converted into a strategic resource, ready to feed the ever-hungry gunpowder mills. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is my first process-build since a loooong time... I hope you enjoy it! I tried to depict all the essential phases (probably I should have chosen a simpler thing... or a bigger base ). With a gunpowder mill and a brimstone quarry, I think that Astrapi is the best location for this little, smelly step towards "fireworks". To be licensed as a small factory (34x22 longer side, 34x18 shorter side)