Introduction: How to Make a PVC Rocket Cannon

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


dariostar (author)2013-12-17


Nice job! That was a great video

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

Pandalover888 (author)2016-04-04

AWESOME!! it works perfectly.

What is the build up in the bottom?

Its like a syrupy hairspray liquid.

JohnD316 (author)2016-03-31

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.

demon_pigeon (author)2016-03-21

Still can't get past the first step.

opticalfx (author)2014-08-19

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

opticalfx (author)opticalfx2014-08-21

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.

godoggie made it! (author)2014-08-15

Made it! Very fun to build and use. Mounted mine to a tripod for easy firing. Keep it up Nighthawk!

That's awesome, great idea!

roballoba (author)2014-01-11

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!

girdap37 (author)2013-04-08

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

vangard1994 (author)2012-09-25

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.

giike3 (author)2012-07-10

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

misterlemois (author)2012-07-04

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.

Michael_Bell (author)2012-06-24

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

jliang1 (author)2012-05-28

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!

NightHawkInLight (author)jliang12012-05-28

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.

thebrimac (author)2012-04-22

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?

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.

lonesoulsurfer (author)2012-03-17

Great 'ible - built one with my son on the weekend and had a blast! (excuse the pun).  Have a look at my video below.  I had some trouble initially as the hair spray wouldn't ignite.  I found that if I blew down the pipe after I sprayed that helped. 
Keep up the great work.

That looks great! Glad you could get some fun out of the project!

joen (author)2012-03-09

Could it be done with alcohol like HEAT for example or is it too explosive?

Mattrox (author)2012-03-08

My volume was too loud almost fell off my chair! Great Instructable as always!

urbanaut (author)2012-03-07

Doing this project with my two boys (4&7), they're so excited they can't see straight, lol. I'll post more when it's ready...

That's cool to hear! Have fun! Also, stay safe. I'm sure the bottle could give a mean black eye if you were staring down at it as it fired. It might be a good idea to have the launcher up above them on a table so that they can't reach their faces high enough to get above it.

skiedra (author)2012-03-07

well done ignition. Cheers!

cleage001 (author)2012-03-04

Epic idea.

tutdude98 (author)2012-03-04

but this can make max 120 psi

ynneb (author)2012-03-02

Great job, you have turned the popular SpudGun into a much safer project that will probably not attract so much attention from the authorities.

Aron313 (author)2012-03-02

Im gonna do this when i have kids so that they can have some good physics fun!

pyromanic (author)2012-03-02

you rock

pyromanic (author)2012-03-02

cool need to build

Kiteman (author)2012-03-02


NightHawkInLight (author)Kiteman2012-03-02

Thank you very much

Kiteman (author)NightHawkInLight2012-03-02

It's on my Summer to-do list.

mikeasaurus (author)2012-03-02

Whoa, awesome!
Looks like you get some great height!

Yep, you sure do. It's very entertaining.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like turning boring things into awesome things! Usually on video.
More by NightHawkInLight:How to Make a Produce Slicing Shotgun Barrel for Air CannonsLarge Bore Vacuum CannonFitzroy Storm Glass (18th Century Weather Prediction Device)
Add instructable to: