The synthesis of silicon nitride powder by the reaction between silica, carbon and nitrogen is the economically most interesting route. Only this route makes possible the use of very cheap raw materials as well as the use of a simple production process. On the other side, the properties of the powders are within the limit of the technical requirements of the ceramic part manufacturer. The aim of this paper is to show that an optimized carbothermal Si3N4 powder synthesis leads to a product which fulfills the economical (low price) as well as the technical requirements. After a short introduction regarding the economical requirements, an overview of the carbothermal synthesis will be given. The influence of raw material, conditions of synthesis and removal of excess carbon on the powder properties will be discussed. Also, the properties of the powder as well as the sintering behaviour of Si3Ns4 powders, produced by Si-direct nitridation, Si-diimide process and the carbothermal route, will be compared in detail.