Manila’s far-reaching connections based on the trade in saltpeter have received little attention in the entangled histories of the Indian Ocean and the China Seas. Military supplies were not only in high demand among parties in conflicts in the Philippines and its surrounding waters but also frequently redistributed overseas. That way saltpeter came to link Manila and the Coromandel Coast around 1700. Spanish colonial accounts not only testify to the importance of the delicate matter of saltpeter imports, but also suggest that after 1640, following the trade rupture with Japan and interruptions with Fujian and Macau, maritime business patterns altered significantly. The example of saltpeter cargoes thus sheds light on maritime dynamics beyond the spheres of Iberian mercantilist control, including the agency of actors of various backgrounds including Armenians and Portuguese New Christians, as well as English, French and Danish company merchants.