What does gunpowder smell like?


There’s just something about the smell of gunpowder that really sets our souls on fire. Just one whiff catapults you right back to the old west and you’re suddenly standing in the smoky aftermath of the sexiest shootout in the west. 

It’s dangerous, it’s sexy, and for some reason it smells so damn good. But what does gunpowder smell like and what makes it so smokin’ hot?

What does gunpowder smell like?

When you think of the smell of gunpowder, is your mind instantly filled with hazy images of smoky western saloons and rugged outlaws boldly wielding their pistols? You’re picturing it now, but can you smell it? Close your eyes and take a breath.

A scent that gets you fired up and raring to go, gunpowder isn't the sultry kind of smoky scent that will lull you into a deep sleep. Not at all! It’s like walking into a thick fog before being hit with the sharp smoky smell of black crackling powder. This tangy firecracker will lure you in with its depth before waking you up with sharp fiery top notes. 

Like walking into the aftermath of a good old shoot out when the dust has finally settled, the scent of gunpowder is bold, strong, and sharp as a bullet. Unlike a fresh smoking gun, there are no sulfur or ammonia notes lingering. It’s more like the uniquely acrid scent of spent gunpowder. Imagine this: the guns have been laid down, the dust has settled, but the smoky sweet smell of danger is still in the air. It’s irresistibly tangy with an edge that can’t be ignored.

A rebel and a bit of an outlier, gunpowder is a fairly new bombshell currently shaking up the world of fragrance and natural colognes. But what gives gunpowder that irresistible edge and how can we use it to smell like the sexiest in the west? Let’s take a fiery walk through history to find out…

What is gunpowder?

An infamous firecracker in the world of chemistry and warfare, gunpowder is the world’s very first chemical explosive. Carefully made up of saltpeter (potassium nitrate), sulfur, and charcoal, gunpowder will burn rapidly before exploding. Many people assume gunpowder’s main use is for explosions, but its principal use is actually as a propellant.

What makes gunpowder smell so good?

Where do we even start! Like the smoky scent of burnt fireworks and excitement that lingers in the air after a show-stopping display, there’s something about the smell of gunpowder that makes you want to breathe it in as deep as possible and hold onto it forever. Seductive and sharp, gunpowder lures you into the thick smoky depths of its base layers before hitting you with an explosion of vibrance that always leaves you wanting more.

But why does it actually smell so good? Let’s get down to the science of it. Gunpowder in its natural solid state really does not have much smell to it at all, but just one little spark and boom – it releases a series of gasses that when combined together create an unmistakeable smell like no other. It’s that iconic smell of flares, firecrackers, and guns that fill our lungs and hearts with the explosive aroma of mischief. Love it or hate it, gunpowder is one unmistakable scent no one can forget or ignore.

Shop Gunpowder-inspired cologne, soap & More

The history of gunpowder

Like all the best things, it started with a bang — literally! Dating all the way back to the 9th Century, gunpowder was first developed by Chinese monks who discovered the incendiary formula on their quest for a life-extending elixir. Little did they know that their search for immortality had in fact birthed the world’s deadliest weapon prior to the atomic bomb. Oh the irony! Once the Chinese alchemists realized the explosive nature of their concoction, it was quickly applied to warfare and changed the way wars were fought forever by becoming the base of every weapon from rifles, to grenades, cannons, and more.

Like the smell of gunpowder itself, the Mongols were bold and ambitious in warfare and invasion, paving the way for gunpowder to spread throughout the rest of the world. Gunpowder exploded onto the scene and by the 13th century had already reached the Middle East where crusaders and traders would soon become acquainted with it.

This was the first time that gunpowder’s key ingredient, saltpeter (or potassium nitrate) had been used outside of medical purposes. Originally, the Mongols mixed elemental sulfur, the charcoal of a willow tree (or sometimes grapevine, hazel, and pine cones), with saltpeter. Mixing the ingredients before use was an extremely risky and dangerous process – a single spark could risk creating a huge billowing fire after all! When these ingredients were carefully combined and ground together, it resulted in a powder named ‘serpentine.’ The problem with the serpentine was that often the powder would move and various elements would get sifted out and disrupt the formula. Later, water, wine, or other liquids were added to transform the serpentine into a paste which would then be pushed through a screen to form pellets (safer and more durable than powder) and then dried.

Finding and perfecting the formula for gunpowder was no easy feat. This explosive formula was very tricky to get right and risked disastrous results if you got it wrong. As with many recipes and formulas including our own natural cologne and natural body wash, the ratio of ingredients holds the key. Once you had the right formula, the technology was yours and you could finally let off some fireworks of your own. Now you’re probably wondering what is this magical formula then? The truth is there isn’t just one, often the ratios vary from country to country with each having their own recipe for success.

How does gunpowder work?

So you know what it smells like and you know where it came from, but how exactly does it work? Gunpowder is made up of a combination of fuel (charcoal), and an oxidizer (saltpeter), and sulfur to create a stable chemical reaction. Essentially, the sulfur ignites first which then burns the charcoal fuel and creates enough heat to tear the nitrate molecules apart and release the burst of oxygen needed to aid combustion. The reaction of the components generates enough heat which in turn causes the gasses to expand and create the explosive force that provides the propelling action.

What scents pair perfectly with gunpowder?

Smoky and peppery, the smell of gunpowder can add a daring twist to spice up deeper scents like campfire or leather. Pair this sharp and distinct scent with something rugged and bold like leather or sandalwood for the sexiest combo in the west (or maybe even ever.) 

Our Blazing Saddles collection of scents combines the ruggedness of leather with the smoke and spice of gunpowder, alongside sandalwood and sagebrush. It brings together a vibe we can only describe as the main character in a Western movie: mysterious, rugged, and strong with a hint of smoke and flames lingering on their fingertips.

What scents pair well with the smell of a campfire?

Our Fire in The Hole range pairs the smell of campfire with gunpowder, sagebrush, and whiskey.

The bold range includes a handmade soap, body wash, lotion, beard oil and hair elixir, air freshener, and cologne. All the products are made by hand with natural oils, natural colors, and a blend of natural and lab scents.

The idea behind the range is to help you celebrate those unforgettable camping trips and your wildest adventures.

The perfect gift for people who love the smell of gunpowder cologne

Looking for a gift that smells like gunpowder? Gifts for people who like gunpowder can be pretty hard to come by so boy howdy are you going to be glad you found us! From natural body wash, natural lotion, natural cologne and even solid cologne, our Blazing Saddle range of leather and gunpowder gifts are going to blow your gunpowder loving outlaw away. 

Some people love the smell of coffee in the morning, but others prefer to take a step on the wild side. For them, nothing compares to the lingering smell of burnt gunpowder coming from a classic revolver. For the hunters, the gun lovers, the firecrackers, the daredevils, and the badass outlaws and inlaws, you can’t go wrong with the Blazing Saddles Gift set. Lather up and prepare for fireworks, because with Blazing Saddles, things are about to take off cowboy style. 

Like your outlaws smoking hot? One spritz of our Fire in the Hole Spray Cologne is going to have them all leaning in for more! Deep, rich, and smoky, this signature campfire inspired scent cleverly combines the fiery crackle of gunpowder with the smokiness of campfire embers, and the warm spice of whiskey for a unique scent any gunpowder lover will adore. Set their heart on fire and watch the fireworks with the Fire in the Hole Campfire Gift Set – make it the most explosive gift they’ve received yet! 

Kick things off with a bang with our range of gunpowder gifts that will light up their day and have them blazing to go.

Make your day explode with Fire in the Hole