How to Make a PVC Rocket Cannon

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Posted in OutsideRockets

Introduction: How to Make a PVC Rocket Cannon

About: I like turning boring things into awesome things! Usually on video.

The above video demonstrates how to fire a rocket under the power of a flammable aerosol. Hairspray or a flammable spray deodorant are the fuels of choice. The total cost of this project assuming the tools needed are already available is about $25. For that price you can make 4 rockets for the launcher, as the foam sleeping pad that they are made of is large enough to make multiples.

Parts & Tools:
1. 18" x 3" Pressure Rated PVC Pipe
2. 3" Pressure Rated PVC End Cap
3. Piezoelectric BBQ Igniter or Flint & Steel Lantern Striker (Available at hardware or sporting goods stores)
4. 2 Self Tapping Screws if using a BBQ Ignitor
5. Foam Sleeping Pad
6. 2 Liter Soda Bottle
7. Duct or Packaging Tape
8. Hot Glue
9. Drill & Bits
10. PVC Primer & Cement

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37 Comments

I tries but it wont ignite i used deodrant with butane propane and alchocol

AWESOME!! it works perfectly.

What is the build up in the bottom?

Its like a syrupy hairspray liquid.

Great afternoon project with the grandkids. Even if it hits someone it likely won't hurt and is soft enough to maybe catch on the way down.

Still can't get past the first step.

Would I be able to replace the hairspray with starter fluid?

2 replies

So I've got it built and have tried several different fuels with no luck. I've even tried straight Butane and nothing. Tried switching over and using a fuse from some fireworks with no luck. I've tried blowing down the tube to increase air in the mixture and nothing. What is it that I am doing wrong?

What are you using as fuel? The reason hairspray works is that it contains isopropyl alcohol. You can put 90% rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and that will work well. Fuels like butane have a very specific fuel/air mixture required for combustion and if you don't have the mix just right it won't even burn.

So cool!!! your instructables are getting my brain gears turning!!! OH MAN. OH MAN! This is gonna be fun!!!! you make nerf look like childs play!

First of all, a very nice project. I would like to do this project. But it is used IN 18 "inch into the pipe having been in the same tube. Auxiliary I'd appreciate it if you

dude, you are the spawn of macgyver and jesus him self! if it ever becomes WW III and an apocalyptic setting, you (hands down) are set. im just wondering if you could make the landmine more "interesting". say cooking oil that giike3 said, or if you could use a sort of explosive that the ignitor would set off.

hey what happens if you shot it with flammable cooking oil would it ignite?

Here in my country (I live in Brazil) I cannot find the foam you used, only in smaller shapes, like 8mm of thickness. There are any alternative material for the rocket?
I already build the launcher and I'm now firing coke bottles (2,5l) and it's awesome, I really want to build the rocket now.

I would love to do this, but unfortunately putting flames near hairspray scares me... perhaps I shall try some other type of fuel? If and when I do, I shall let you know how it works

Hello,
I think this is an amazing implementation of basic physics.

I have a question about the fuel, however. What is it that oxidizes inside the hairspray? Is there a specific chemical that I should look for? I currently have Petroleum-infused Silicon Oil, but I'm not sure if that will produce the gas pressure needed for liftoff. I also don't want to buy the 'wrong' hairspray, persae, and waste $15 on a product nobody in our family uses.

Thanks in advance!

1 reply

Look for any spray that says flammable on the can, with one of the ingredients being a flammable gas such as butane or propane. The gas that is used to pressurize the can is what you are looking for as fuel, not the spray itself.

Really fun Idea. I built one but I am having a problem. I am using the charcoal igniter with wires I have extended. When it is all connected I can look down the tube and see a spark. However, I have tried several times with several fuels and can't get it to ignite. If I throw a match down the tube I do get an ignition. Any suggestions?

1 reply

It could be that your spark gap is too close or too far apart for a hot spark. Most likely you are just using too much or too little fuel. If the mixture of air to fuel isn't right it will not burn.