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Saltpeter had several applications in magic, theater, and alchemy. The most interesting of these is that it is useful in creating attractive pale purple flames and billowing smoke when tossed into a fire, which greatly impresses the audience. It was also included in the medieval pharmacopoeia for, among other things, it was allegedly useful for kidney trouble when compounded with powdered white pine and ostrich egg shell. It has been suggested that the occasional report of a wizard destroyed by demons in a burst of thunder, lightening, and brimstone, might actually refer to the accidental discovery of gunpowder by some unfortunate alchemist looking for a more impressive act or a physician seeking a new medicine, who, of course, failed to survive his historic discovery.