Make It Rain Down Chocolate! For Real! Here's How to Make Your Own Pneumatic Candy Cannon!

Picture of Make It Rain Down Chocolate! For Real!  Here's How to Make Your Own Pneumatic Candy Cannon!
Be the coolest person on the block by building a pneumatic device that will launch candy 100 feet in the air, and make it rain down all kinds of sugary treats!!!

It's fun to make, and a huge hit at birthday parties!

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Watch the Video!

WARNING:  This project uses compressed air as the medium for projecting candy, and thereby poses various safety risks.  This project should not be attempted without adult supervision and adequate training. Misuse, or careless use, of tools or projects may result in serious injury or death. Use of this video content is at your own risk.

Step 2: What Is a Candy Cannon?

Picture of What Is a Candy Cannon?
This is the Candy Cannon!

It uses an electrically activated in-line sprinkler valve, rated at 150 PSI, as the trigger mechanism to release compressed air through the barrel.  

Just charge the system up to around 150PSI, and press the detonator button to make it fire!

I built this one for my son's 3rd birthday party to propel a payload of candy to an altitude of around 100 feet, at which point the candy begins to spread out into a giant could of sugary treats, and drop back down, making it rain candy!  

You can probably imagine the excitement of the kids with their little treat bags running all around the yard on a candy treasure hunt!

Step 3: Materials You'll Need

Picture of Materials You'll Need
I used PVC sprinkler parts, as well as some doorbell wire, thread tape, a pneumatic adapter, and a push-button switch.

Without listing individual parts, I hope the picture gives enough of an idea for your to duplicate the project.

I used 2" schedule 40 PVC pipe for the air tanks, and 1" schedule 40 PVC pipe for everything else.  You should be able to find all these materials at a home improvement store, or sprinkler supply company.

Aside from those, you'll probably want a 3/4" manual ball valve, and some other 3/4" fittings that will allow you to join it to the frame.

You'll also need a 1" FIPT in-line sprinkler valve.  

To make the air tanks, cut two sections of the 2" PVC pipes 12" long.

Cut your 1" pipe to custom lengths (Anywhere from 2"-4").

Feel free to use some creativity to modify the system, but basically it will look like this when the pieces are dry-fit together.

The system is designed to accept compressed air through a pneumatic adaptor we'll add to the cap near the manual ball valve.  This valve allows you to close off the system, and the cannon will stay pressurized even if you disconnect from your source of compressed air.

A 9v battery will be used to activate the sprinkler valve.  The valve is actually rated at 24 volts, but I've found a single 9v seems to work ok for this purpose.

If you're happy with how the pieces fit together, then it's time to make it permanent by cementing it together!

By the way, did you notice these parts strongly resemble the parts I used in my Rocket Rifle project?

Step 4: Make It Perminant

Picture of Make It Perminant
To cement PVC properly, you'll need some purple primer and some PVC cement.

Some brands of PVC cement are self priming.  An example would be something like "Christy's - Red Hot Blue Glue". 

Make sure to read the instructions carefully on both the can of primer and can of PVC cement.  There are dangers associated with each, and attention to detail is required in order to get a good connection that can withstand 150PSI.  Remember, this system is going to be containing a dangerous amount of pressure, so you'll want to do it right the first time!

Prime all the parts that will be in contact, and when they are dry, cement it up as instructed on the can.

Step 5: Cannon Wads

Picture of Cannon Wads
To make sure the candy launches efficiently, you may want to make a basic cannon wad from 2 plastic cups.

I cut a 1/4" off the top of a small 3oz plastic cup, and cut the bottom part off a regular sized up.  Then I fit them together to make this little container.

This design had impressive structural integrity, which meant it could withstand the blasts of high air pressure, and be used multiple times before having to make a new one.

The diameter of the wad is about as perfect as I could find for the inside of the 2" candy barrel.  

You may also notice a coil of wire in the background of the picture.  This is doorbell wire that connects the valve to the detonator button.  I wrapped the wire around a length of the 1" pipe to form the coil.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches
Here you can see where the pneumatic adaptor is attached, and if you like, you can give your system a paint job like I did here.  I chose Red and Black spray paint for mine.

The pneumatic adapter is where an air hose can be connected to charge it up, and the manual ball-valve gives the option of closing off the system. This meant the system could maintain pressure even while the air hose was disconnected, thus making it portable.

If you don't have an air compressor, then instead of this pneumatic adaptor, you could change it out with a valve stem to be used with a bike pump.

Step 7: Making It Work!

Picture of Making It Work!
The wad goes in first, and is pushed to the bottom with a ramrod, then candy gets inserted.  I used a big bag of jelly candies for practice.

Individually wrapped candies are a better choice when actually using for a party, however these jelly candies were mainly for testing the ballistics of small dense candies.

When the detonator button is pressed, the sprinkler valve opens and blasts the cannon wad upwards.  The wad pushes all the candy out with a considerable force.

In this case, 3 lbs of candy was launched up around 100 feet in the air!  

This has become a hit at birthday parties, and we are making it a tradition to do a candy launch at each of our kids' birthdays. And, of course, the birthday boy is the one who gets to push the detonator button!

Haven't see the video yet? You can still see it here!

If you like this project perhaps you'll like some of my others. Check them out at www.thekingofrandom.com
1-40 of 73Next »

how much money was it for all the parts

jpstiffin10 months ago

Glen: can you tell me what sprinkler valve you used? Can I get it at Lowes?. Thanks.

-CCCP-1 year ago

This is awesome, But, it made me really hungry with the title. I'm gonna get a cookie now.

Great project! Do you have to use special high-pressure pipe, or just regular?

DanTDM1 year ago

I hate pvc pipe

thank you for your wonderful contribution to the comments.

yoyoyo98011 year ago

how do u make the barrel adjustable

Awesome Idea, This is an amazing build.
Hey, thanks!
Big fan Mr, KOR,
I am a novice at best doing these projects and have never been a handy man around the house. with that said i have mo knowledge of the materials that you used to make this project. i know it may be a hassle but do you have a full list so that i do not get the wrong stuff and blow my hand off in an attempt to improvise?.lol


yoyoyo98011 year ago

help, materials list plz, I need

yoyoyo98011 year ago

I know this is a very late comment, but I love all of your projects!!!

its just like potato canon
dannygam1 year ago
I've made an air cannon similar to this before. Good stuff! My question is reload time is slow from the time spent with the air compressor. Do you know of a way to hook up a CO2 canister to make it portable and somewhat quicker for reloading. Thanks.
fjalvarez2 years ago
I love this project but like many of you I work better with a parts list, has anyone been able to get one ? thanks and keep up the great work..:)
zamora1232 years ago
I would love to build this for my daughters 6th birthday this weekend. Would it be possible to get a more detailed list of supplies? She would really love this. My email address is zamora123@earthlink.net if it's possible.
yapoyo2 years ago
Chocolate rain.... some stay dry and others feel the pain.
TheRocker712 years ago
Do you happen to remember the total price on this project?
veebz2 years ago
Great cannon. I've built a few myself using a very similar design. I use the same type of valve but I've had mixed results with only using 9V. Sometimes 9V work, sometimes I need to use 3x9V. It seems to me (and I may have missed something) that my valve needs more voltage as the pressure increases.

I love the nice finish you put on it too!
Thank you so much. That was the only part I couldn't find.
I know you didn't do it in this video, but in the ak 47 video you made a bike pump adapter and I was just wondering where you got it?
you make the coolest things ever. I love the solar scorcher and both air cannons

I made the pump adaptor from a valve stem. You can get these at auto parts stores or companies that deal in tire repair.

All the best!

Mig Welder2 years ago
I gotta say, your ingenuity with common materials and simple tools is amazing! The nice flourish like a paint job you have for every project really finishes it off. Thanks for another great project idea!
The King of Random (author)  Mig Welder2 years ago
Thanks for your nice compliment Mig! I have a project on making a stick welder from microwave parts coming up soon. I'd love your feedback on it since I have no real experience welding.
No problem! I look forward to giving you some feedback! In fact, I've made a few MOT welders in my time but I look forward to seeing your take on it. Keep the guides coming!
doodlecraft2 years ago
Always the life of the party! Are these pics at the park or your yard? What a fun 3rd birthday! :)
The King of Random (author)  doodlecraft2 years ago
Only second to you Natalie! This is our back yard .. but the park wouldn't be a bad idea. The spray radius of the candy is amazing!
We need to be neighbors again! We are planning a My little pony party for Hailee...and pinkie pie has a party cannon. This would be perfect! :)
@doodlecraft - I don't mean to break in on a private conversation but it'd have to be a REALLY big cannon to launch a pony - pink or otherwise. :)

@TKoR - Well done (scurrying off to the basement).
The King of Random (author)  adbkwhitley2 years ago
:) Are you off to make the Pony Cannon? lol
Nah, my wife won't even let me make a pneumatic punkin chunker. No WAY she'd entertain a pony cannon. Besides, the SPCA and all that . . . Nope, I'll stick to inanimate objects, thanks. :)
The King of Random (author)  doodlecraft2 years ago
I agree, we should .. only we're sick of moving .. so are you interested in coming back???
seltzer102 years ago
So I've done allot of work with potato cannons and I've found a great way to launch grape shot or in your case candy is to create a re-usable "seal plate" rather than needing to cut up the cups. This is done by :
1. cut a one inch long section of scrap pipe (same pipe as barrel)
2. buy a tube of GE Silicone 2 Caulking
3. Lay the pipe "ring" down on a smooth flat surface
4. Fill the ring with the caulking, allow it to cure.
upon curing you will now have a perfectly sized plug for your barrel, The friction between the plug and barrel walls will create Fk which can decreasethe projectiles velocity although I find it preferable to deal with this Fk because it seems to be less of an issue than the lost air pressure due to using other "plug" type items. - Hope this helps!
- Side note: You can also cast awesome projectiles using silicone that are reusable rather than wasting a bag of potatoes. Although these cast silicone projectiles bounce, so be careful of ricochet.
The King of Random (author)  seltzer102 years ago
Great feedback and comment. Thanks! Just curious, what silicone are you using for casting? Is it a 2 part mix, or something you could pick up from home depot?
Thank you! I used " GE Silicone 2 Caulking" It is a white tube with a GE logo labeled as such, it comes in caulking tubes and can be mixed with corn starch if you're looking to give the projectile a more ridged form. Check out this link to another ible that uses casting of the same sort with a similar form. This cornstarch/silicone mixture is hardly my invention I've simply found a projectile use for it. this mixture is commonly referred to as "oogoo" http://www.instructables.com/id/SiliconeOogoo-Brain-Slug-from-Futurama/step3/The-Oogoo/

-note: Increasing the amount of corn starch used will decrease curing times and using the GE 2 silicone will reak of what smells like acetone/vinegar so do it on your porch of outside if ya can. Its not really an issue its just not an atmosphere I enjoyed breathing in my small basement shop the first time I did this!
I wish you were my neighbor instead of the busy-body one that I have now. I used to live on 5 acres of land, but have been reduced to a subdivision due to job change. No matter though, I am having my own shed delivered to my backyard in 2 weeks, and I'll have 12'x16' of man-cave ready workshop :D
Nice :D
qczx9992 years ago
Good god. You let your kids eat unwrapped candy that was not only in piping smeared with industrial adhesive, but that was on the lawn crawling with bugs and bacteria?
The King of Random (author)  qczx9992 years ago
This sounds like a loaded comment.

I don't believe at any point I impressed that they ate this candy. If you read the instructable, the unwrapped candies were for testing the ballistics, but individually wrapped candies were used for the parties.

Now saying that, what exactly is the purpose of your comment?

Did you know that your water pipes are smeared with the same industrial adhesive you sound so concerned about?

And the fertilizer for your food is made from cow manure as well as the same lawn crawling bugs and bacteria?

Even if we did eat unwrapped candies from off the lawn, I personally am not concerned about it. I'd eat them too. If it's a big concern for you, then I suggest you do something you're more comfortable with.
1-40 of 73Next »