Background to the question: early XVIII century (1711), in a fictional steampunk city, in the Balkan peninsula. There are no big changes in the world, aside from the recent use of steam as the main energy source due to an early "energetic" revolution.

So, I have this medic/alchemist character, who joins a revolutionary group, and they ask him to use alchemy to create alchemical weapons/gadgets.

The question would be the following: **which alchemical weapons could be created in such a context?

What I am asking for is a little help with which alchemy "weapons" (or gadgets) could be made in that specific time.

I can think of smoke bombs, stink bombs, acid-in-a-flask to throw, but I don't know if those were possible to made (or how) in that time.

To clarify, they can't be "steampunk", since he does not have any mechanical or engineering knowledge.

Also, it any explanation on how those "weapons" could be manufactured and the required material would really help me.

Please ask any question about the setting if you feel like something is missing. (Though I don't think there are any more relevant factors that could affect this question, but who knows?)

And I think that's all! Thanks in advance for your help!

Edit. Alchemist as pseudo-scientist. Limited by the current knowledge of that time (1711). And about transforming elements again, only to the extent it would be possible/known how to at that moment in time. In this story I am writing, alchemist has no super nothing. Normal ingredients, normal experiments, normal abilities. Like they were in real life (or, at least, a lot similar) historically.

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    $\begingroup$ What is your definition of an alchemist? Are they limited by our current understanding of chemistry or can they transform materials from on element to another? $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor May 1 '17 at 4:47
  • $\begingroup$ I have to second Henry Taylor here and ask for the further expansion of What Is Alchemy? $\endgroup$ – Weckar E. May 1 '17 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ Alchemist as pseudo scientist. Limited by the current knowledge of that time (1711). And about transforming elements... again, only to the extent it would be possible/known how to in that moment in time. In this story I am writting, alchemist have no super nothing. Normal ingredients, normal experiments, normal abilities. Like they were in real life (or, at least, a lot similar). $\endgroup$ – Jay May 1 '17 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ You should edit that information into the question; comments may be deleted at any time for any reason. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre May 1 '17 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ done, thanks! I am still getting the hang of this website. $\endgroup$ – Jay May 1 '17 at 12:30

Perhaps you should read the basics about this site. Alchemy roughly has 4 disparate goals:

  • transmutation of base elements into noble elements
  • elixir of immortality
  • healing medicines
  • creation of a "universal solvent"

The only thing that is remotely scientifically possible is medicines, but you're not asking about that. Since black powder was in use in the 11th Century (China) and had improved enough by the 13th Century to allow bombs and explosives, I don't understand what you are asking.

Various fluids were also used in flame-throwers and in bombs as incendiaries. White phosphorus was discovered in 1611 and is a very nasty (and commonly used) chemical weapon - it ignites at about 30°C (86°F) so it doesn't take much heat to ignite it. It is a weapon of fear; since it continues to burn on contact with skin or water, no one with any sense wants to be anywhere near it.

Napalm, or gelled gasoline (or mineral spirits), would be another easy weapon to make, with all the ingredients known at the time. Greek Fire dates to ~ 670 C.E. but of course weapons using fire are known as far back as the 8th Century B.C.E.

Also, there's no real reason why biological weapons couldn't be used. Weaponizing some of the germs isn't very hard, at all. But for obvious reasons, I'll not describe the process here. (Hint: you grow the germs and you put them onto dust, which will blow in the wind.) Of course none of these are particularly appropriate for person-to-person weapons.

It's useful to know that up until the 20th Century, more soldiers (and civilians) died during wars of disease than from enemy weapons. If you've got steam, then it seems to me that weapons using steam instead of black powder are possible (using a large boiler), so that rapid fire guns should be possible, "rapid" in the sense that rather than having to reload the tube with powder, wad, and shot, you could just put the wad & shot in without having to cool down (swab) the barrel.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. If you think the OP is missing something in his question and you don't understand what he is asking you should leave a comment under the question and ask for clarification, rather than answering. Otherwise he might later change his question in a way you had not thought of and thereby invalidate your answer. You can comment once you reach 50 reputation. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name May 1 '17 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ Depending on what era you're looking at, much of alchemy also derived from astronomy and the goal to distill substances into the 4 classical elements. And even others have used the guise of alchemy to look for "God's blueprint". $\endgroup$ – Weckar E. May 1 '17 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot! But I will discard the germs, since this particular alchemist is not that good (and doing that was really possible in that time? wow). And the steam weapons too, since in this story the steam was just "recently" introduced, and has not yet been used in every aspect of life, mainly transport. $\endgroup$ – Jay May 1 '17 at 12:02

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