Model Rocket Recovery Wadding


Introduction: Model Rocket Recovery Wadding

Love launching model rockets but don't love the cost?

Here's a way to cut costs a bit by making your own recovery wadding

The point of the recovery wadding is to provide a shield between the recovery charge from the engine (hot gases and sparks) and the parachute or other recovery system for the reason of preventing damage to your rocket and/or on board fires Recovery wadding is just fireproof paper

This does NOT require any special tools or materials that are not found in the average household
This sells at hobby shops for about 8 dollars for 75 sheets You can make over 100 sheets for under 1 dollar

Step 1: What You Need

Toilet paper (as many sheets as sheets of wadding you want)
Wax paper
Borax or baking soda
Measuring cup

Step 2: Make a Saturated Solution

If you paid attention in chemistry class you should know how to do this but for those that did not....

A saturated solution is made when a water soluble (something that dissolves in water) substance is added to water and dissolved then repeatedly added until no more will dissolve hence it is SATURATED

Now fill your measuring cup up until its at about half a cup (hot or warm water!)
Take about 4 teaspoons of Borax or baking soda and mix it well in the half a cup of hot water
Scrap the bottom of the measuring cup with the spoon and see if there is any powder or anything still in the bottom if there is add 2 more teaspoons repeat until no more will dissolve in the water

Step 3: Coating the Paper

Now you are going to coat the toilet paper in the solution you just made your going to need the:
Toilet paper (as many squares as sheets of wadding you want)
Wax paper

Pour the borax or baking soda solution into the saucer just enough to coat the bottom of the saucer Lay out about a foot long piece of wax paper depending on how much wadding your planning to make

Separate the toilet paper into individual squares Hold a square by two of the corners Dip it in the saucer make sure it coats the whole piece Then very carefully lay it out on the wax paper you may wreck a few pieces before you get the hang of laying them out without ripping them Let them dry for several hours

Step 4: Testing It

Once its dry you need to test a piece to make sure its fire proof
So just take a piece and try to light it on fire it will turn black and the edges will glow a bit but that's normal
As long as it doesn't support a flame its good! if it does support a flame you did not make a very good saturated solution go back and use more borax or baking soda

Step 5: Using It!

If the last step went well AWESOME because you just saved yourself 8 bucks. it can be used just like normal recovery wadding if you don't believe me try burning a piece of wadding it will act similar to what you just made

This is my first Instructable I hope you liked it!



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    did you mean "scrape"? 'cause i dont want to throw away the measuring cup

    1 reply

    That is an awesome technique. I can understand how handling wet toilet paper can be a pain in the area it is intended for. I'm going to make a batch from cheap paper coffee filters. You can usually get a large package for under $2. I'm also wondering if it would be helpful to super-saturate the water with the borax. (Super saturation is technique where you can dissolve more of the chemical, in this case, borax, by boiling the mixture.)

    After making the wadding and testing a piece, what is the best way to store it and how long does it last when stored correctly. I mean does the affect of fire proof wear off after some time?



    i made it, havent tried the flammability test yet. looks great. i dried them on my wood porch, but i guess i forgot that baking soda was a cleaning agent too. now i have dark square shapes where i laid them out to dry. :p

    I put my wadding in the microwave for 2 minutes to dry it faster and make more batches.

    Something that we use is cellulose insulation, known as "dog barf" among serious rocketeers. It's cheap and easily obtainable and works better than the paper type of wadding. Check out The Rocketry Forum for more information. If you haven't alreay, look for a rocketry club near to to launch with. It's more fun than launching alone. will list local clubs.

    2 replies

    Will this work as "dog barf"?

    yep, that 's the stuff. If you go to a club launch, they will most likely have a box full of it you can just grab some out of.

    This is definately gunna save me some money! Thanks!

    I know this may be pretty stupid, but I just use tin foil.

    I use Christmas paper garland. At my place they need to be fireproofed to be sale on the market. There will on sale just after Christmas. With one roll I could do a lot of launch.



    you are bumb

    This worked great! I had promised a pile of kids that I would set off a rocket on Sunday, and picked up the engines on a Saturday. No one at the hobby shop mentioned wadding and this was my first launch. Sunday morning at 7:00am I discovered that I needed flame retardant wadding. You and Google saved my bacon. I used baking soda and kleenex, and dried the stuff in a shelved drying cabinet above my tumble dryer because I was short on time. The launch was amazing and the rocket recovered unharmed. I can see sending stuff into the sky being addictive.

    I'm gonna show this to the person who runs the rocketry contest at my county fair, thanks!

    4 replies

    Heh, i wonder if you could dunk a whole roll of toilet paper and just rip a peace off wyhen you need it after it dries

     Not easily.  when paper gets wet or damp it tends to bond together.  just drop any spiral notebook in a puddle for about 5 seconds, let it dry, then realize nearly all of the pages rip to bits as you try seperating them