Introduction: Black Powder Rocket Motors.

Picture of Black Powder Rocket Motors.

In this instructable I will show you how to build a Black powder rocket and how to put it onto a car.
This will also outline other things you can do with these rockets
There is always the possibility of using other types of fuel such as the sugar and KNO3 fuel in the same way

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need the following.

Rocket tube/motor;
An A3 piece of paper
PVA (white) glue
Black powder -
Bentonite clay (as above)
A 15mm dowel with 4mm bore (bore optional)
A spindle with 4mm bore extension (optional)
and tube, and ramming device could be used. or if you want you could remove 1/2 the fun and buy your own pre made motor?!?!?!?

Toy car

Of course you dont have to make some BP you could buy some, or already have some. but the Black powder on my other instructable is well suited to this project and will burn at a good rate.

Step 2: Rocket Tube

Picture of Rocket Tube

Cut your piece of A3 paper into 6cm wide strips. T
ape the end of one strip on the other end of your workbench than you are, and apply PVA glue from the far end to 4cm from your end. Place dowel on your end of paper strip and tightly roll to the end.
Take off the tape at end a glue last bit on, and then take out dowel. Repeat with all strips.
Leave to dry for at least 2 hours before ramming so they have time to harden, but they reach their hardest over night and after this time they work best.

Step 3: Motor Packing

Picture of Motor Packing

When using these motors, they work best with a bore in it, it makes burning faster and more efficient, for bore you'll need to use a spindle and a dowel with bore hole (see picture). If you don't want a bore, do this step without spindle and drill a nozzle when done, (ram on top of a piece of tape).
First place your tube on the spindle and add about ½ a table spoon of clay, ram this down by putting dowel in tube and hitting with hammer.
Do this until a 1cm depth of clay is formed. Add Black Powder ½ tablespoon at a time and ram after each addition leaving a little over a cm at the top.
Then add more clay and ram until nearly all of tube is full.
(if using spindle pull off tube, if not drill a hole through the bottom of tube, about 2cm deep).

Step 4: Making the Car

Picture of Making the Car

Get your toy car and tape a piece of straw, 2cm less than the cars length in the middle of it. Tape or glue a rocket motor on top, run string through straw and tie at both ends to create track, this will keep car on course.

Step 5: Using Car

Picture of Using Car

Set up track with about 10 meters of string (try fisjing line), its more fun to race more than one car at a time.
To start, put a fuse in the nozzle of the rocket and jam with pieces of wood, or blu-tack. NOT GLUE.
Light fuse and enjoy (but stand well clear.
make sure you secure motor and straw VERY well onto car, lots of stress goes on these.

Step 6: Tips and Cautions.

Picture of Tips and Cautions.
The bore(and nossel) should be about 4mm in diameter, if too small rocket might explode, if too big rocket will get sow thrust. The bore and nozzle increase efficiency of rocket.
Don't ram too much at one time or rocket wont perform as well.
Don't use anything but lead balls in your ball mill, anything else will either create sparks or bee too soft.

You could also use these engines on planes and run them off a ramp without string, or by themselves with stick attached for vertical flight.
In one of the pictures you can see a rocket motor mounted in a paper model rocket and in another a 8cm rocket motor of the same principle attached to a explosive shell which will be observable in action in my video.
Experiment with different lengths of rocket for different effects.
If you add more charcoal to black powder tail will be more spectacular.

Beware; most countries/states ban these unless they stay grounded.
Please do not attempt to use any of these motors in any way near dry grass, trees or petrol stations because they could cause a fire.


fancypants23 (author)2014-11-26

bp rocket engines are very legal in the US. and they are 100% allowed to leave the ground! tht is what they are made to do! i think the law has a bigger problem with people using bp rocket engines in weird ways like, maybe taping them to a car and lighting them on the ground:) lol. but i think its safe to say you can make and do most anything with bp rocket engines and youll be fine as long as there is no damage to property or people:)!

augur45 (author)2011-04-07

eek... good instructable, BUT...

When working with, ramming, black powder, use non-sparking tools... (brass, plastic, wood...) and gloves (welder's?) to provide at least a little protection for hands in case of explosion, and a blast shield of some sort to protect face and body.

Light dampening black powder will provide protection from accidental ignition. Of course, the completed motor will need a lot of time to totally dry before it can be used... perhaps a light bulb in an insulated box as a drying box (looking for maybe 100degrees Fahrenheit). (Use someplace where an explosion won't cause damage or a fire of course.)

Be safe....

Although I have no problem with your extra caution, I will say this: The Meal Powder I use to make these motors is not pressure sensitive, that is it won't ignite from ramming. Using non Sparking tools is always a good Idea. I manage with the wooden tools I have. I have never had any trouble with leaving the motors to dry. If you see my Black Powder making instructable you will see that in that process I allow the individual elements to dry separately before mixing them, that way there is no chance of ignition. For example, in the past I have dried KNO3 in the oven at a very very low heat to dry it out because it was fertiliser quality material.

Thank you, however, for the cautious procedural advice that you have given. There is no problem in being extra careful with these methods.

I know I may rant about safety, but I also know there are some youngsters that read these. I don't mean my rants as criticism - I just throw them in if they seem to have been overlooked to ease my own conscience.

Years ago, there was a company that provided instructional manuals for making black powder and black powder rocket motors. They also sold heavy paper tubes in standard motor sizes for making the rocket motors and other supplies...

The cautions I gave were the ones they gave...

I have seen pictures of little kids (like 5 years old) in South America and Mexico mixing black powder ingredients in cloths for fireworks. A sheet about 3 or 4 feet square is held at each corner by a child and the ingredients are rolled back and forth, corner to corner by lifting one corner of the sheet at a time. And these are not small amounts. They look like 1 to 5 pounds at a time. The children are protected only by the fact that the powder is lightly dampened - I presume to inhibit ignition by static electricity spark.

(65 and still in possession of all my fingers, thumbs, eyes and eyebrows - even though a few things went wrong - like when a circular saw blade tooth broke off.)

notker (author)2008-01-01

Nice instructable I like it!_
But one question: Can I replace the BB with something like natriumchlorate with sugar?
I knew that natriumchlorate with sugar is very dangerous but i work with it since one year...

heimo (author)notker2009-06-12

The English for natriumchlorate is sodium chlorate I am not sure if it is one word or two no matter Natrium is the Afrikaans word for Sodium maybie even dutch or Hollands ? these languages are very similar to each other

Lamppis (author)heimo2009-12-25

Natrium orgins from Latin.

I don't have experiance with that particular combination, but if the mixture burns up the tube then it will give out thrust for the rocket. but if that mixture burns too quickly it probably won't work.

doesn't work so good
it'S better with red phosphor

Verbinguden (author)2009-12-24

"most countries/states ban these unless they stay grounded". That's like saying a bird is allowed in our state BUT HE CANT FLY! haha, nice instructable.

astro boy (author)2009-09-13

lol had an idea to strap it to my knex roler coaster!

heimo (author)2009-06-12

flowers of sulfur and sulfur is the same thing !!! try melting some flowers of sulfur and you will believe me if you buy flowers of sulfur from a pharmacy it will be pure

zrocker (author)2009-06-05

Even better run it off a ramp with wings attached and try to make it land in a circle on the ground. If someone can do this and tape it (it must land close to the center of the target), I will make a video doing whatever you ask (as long as it is legal).

zrocker (author)2009-06-05

your videos are hilarious, you should do stand up, lol

ArvindTheNinja (author)2009-04-27

lol "And in slow motion just coz i can!"

A good name (author)2008-07-13

You sort of copied this... Kipkay has the same thing... but his is with rocket motors.

Kipkay actually only shows how to attach a motor to a car. You will find this one is a lot more in-depth and addresses construction and alternate uses. This instructable benefits the people who do not have access to commercial rocket motors.

Lol, it's still a ripoff but I see what ya mean... How do you make blackpowder?

this is the type for this application. Do not use gun grade BP.

twenglish1 (author)2008-07-13

how did you make the shell

The shell is of very simple and safe construction. The main body is a short tube of paper made like the motor casing, but has a larger diameter, inside the tube is a lightly rolled tube of paper holding Meal-powder (
around the inside tube are stars covered lightly in Meal powder. the ends are sealed with cardboard and Hot glue. a fuse is put into the interior tube and the other end to the top of the rocket where the Fuel ends.

oh and one more question where did you get the stars, i kinda have an idea but im just making sure

i guess you could buy them, but there are other solutions. you could scavenge them from fireworks, break up sparklers for bits. But I made mine. i cannot remember the way. But maybe look it up on the internet. it is just a hard, pyrotechnic mixture. combining KNO3 and methalated spirits wiht Meal powder. when it dries it will be fine.

yah thats what i was thinking ill give it a try thanks

thanks, great design

Mattrox (author)2008-07-03

where did you get your spindle or how did you make it?

i got a smallish block of wood, and on that i put a cone of epoxy putty formed in a paper mould. then i drilled a hole in the vertex of the cone and inserted a nail with both ends cut off to the length i wanted, and glued it in place. you can also but them online. but this way works well.

thanks that helps alot. also is the cone at the back of the rocket neccesary

the nozzle at the back really helps in the trajectory and evenness of the rockets path. it helps the rocket to fly straight or the rocket car to move smoothly. it is not necessary but because it is so simple to do, i always use it. For real rockets there is some very complex mathematics behind the perfect angle but you can use whatever you like.

Hawaii00000 (author)2008-04-02

How much is a pound of black powder.

make it with my other in depth instructable. and bear in mind that real bp will not work in these motors. you should follow my instructions for best results.\

Make it. Here's the link to another for Instructable gunpowder. Some of the comments are very good, so check them out.

fireandshadows (author)2008-04-07

me and my friend did this with the kno3 and sugar fuel and we had a piece of pvc as the tube. it only went about ten feet, but were going to make another one that is lighter. we video taped it. P.S. The kno3 and sugar fuel burns for a long time.

fork me3 (author)2008-03-26

thank you so much!! ive been wanting bentonite powder but now (thanks to you) I GOT IT :P thanks again10/10

finalcountdown213 (author)2008-03-10

where can u get the salt peter and sulfur

pyroman50 (author)2008-02-26

I'm pretty sure it would fly

toogers (author)2008-02-02

what would happen if you don't use a track? will it taker flight? a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,

withought a track the car would most likely zoom off tumble and spin and pretty much wipe out, i've tried it and it wont do what you want, it wont take flight unless the car is ridiculasly well balanced and the surface strangly flat.

nvm then

Eric-the-halfa-bee (author)2008-01-09

when you guys launch your rockets try to take a video or photo and post a link here so we can see.

oscarmaiern25 (author)2007-12-15

how did you light the black powder inside???

if you stick a fuse through the nossel at least half way it will light, i have never had any problems lighting the black powder as it can ignite with just the sparks from the fuse. You can also use an electronic ignitor with BP on the filiment for more controlled launch

Kaiven (author)2007-12-13

ooh, and where can i find sulfur? i mean in EASY to find place, like in mothballs or something lol. Preferbally in a house

Probably the easiest place to find sulfur is at a gardening store, it is sold as I have described in step 4. And Kn03 is a white granular (crystalline) powder. when working with pyrotecnics don't try and replace any chemicals with a different product unless you know it works. if moth balls are not close to 100% sulfur don't risk it.

lol i just used it as an easy example :P

thats fine. and I know that there are equivalent products you can use in place of exact chemicals eg: flowers of sulfur (stabilised) for pure sulfur. but in case you want to keep your face recognisable always research thouroghly. because as an example nitrates and aluminium can cause spontaneous combustion. which is generally a bad idea.

aaaahh...ok i'll look next time I'm at the flower place.

Kaiven (author)2007-12-13

what if fertilizer hs diry? are the yellow/white balls KN03?

Ohm (author)2007-11-22

Very cool and dangerous, I like it. Could you reuse the motor tubes if they were in good condition and also I have a bunch of used Estes Model rocket motors, could I use a similar technique to "refill" one of those?

Eric-the-halfa-bee (author)Ohm2007-11-23

i think that refilling motor tubes should be okay. but dont use the same tube more than 2 or 3 times because the burning creates wear. usually when the motor is spent the nossel is gone but bung remains, i would suggest cleaning out all clay (which is reusable if you re-grind it) before ramming I dont know anything about Estes model rockets but you could always give it a go.

About This Instructable




More by Eric-the-halfa-bee:Black Powder Rocket motors.
Add instructable to: