Be an Aeronautical Scientist: Make Your Own Jet Engine for a Few Pennies.




About: Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX. Buy my projects at

You can make a real jet engine for five minute's work and the price of a spoonful of meths - how cool is that?!?

I doubt there's a better way to re-use all those jars under the sink. Much more fun than a trip to the bottle bank.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Materials and Equipment.

Stuff I had lying around:

> Pasta sauce jar

> Matches or a BBQ lighter

> A hammer

> A screw (it should have been a nail, but what the heck).

> A tin tray

Stuff I had to buy (and the stuff that has caused the most confusion in readers):

> Meths

Step 2: Making It (the Lucky Way)

OK, admission time - I got lucky with this Instructable.

Jam Jar Jets are by no means my idea, and I knew very little about them:

Knock a hole in the lid of a jar, splash some meths in the jar, give it a shake and light the meths.

So that's what I did, and it worked first time.

After running for a short time, with a noise like an angry moped, the temperature got too high for the jar and it gave way.

That was expected.

Then I tried to repeat the thing...

Step 3: What Goes Wrong...

"Daddy, show us how you made the jet engine!"

"Not a problem", thinks I.

I grabbed another jar, smacked a hole in the lid, splashed in some meths and lit it.

Foosh, then nothing. It didn't work. (There's not much point watching past the first few seconds of this video.)

After some research, it turned out that the hole was too big. If you make a jam jar jet, and it goes foosh and then does nothing, like it does in the first video above, then the hole in the lid is too big. Go make another one.


If your jet lights, goes foosh, and then goes RRRR for a moment, like it does in the second video, then your hole is not quite big enough.

Step 4: Getting It Right.

People that do this properly use proper tools, but it is possible to get it right with just a hammer and an inappropriate spiky thing.

If your fuel is meths (recommended), and you're using a pasta sauce jar, then the hole needs to be about 10-12mm across.

When I prepared a new jet, with a roughly circular hole about 10mm across, it nearly worked. It lit, went foosh and then RRR for a second.

A couple of minutes prodding at the edges of the hole with a screwdriver made the hole about 11mm across, and it ran well. Really well.

But I forgot to video it!

Never mind, I put the flame out and let the jar cool for a few minutes, then tried again. Yipee! It worked!

Step 5: How to Do It Properly...

Drill a nice, circular hole in the lid of your jar.

Splash a few millilitres of meths into the bottom of the jar and screw the lid on tightly.

Put your thumb over the hole and shake. This coats the jar with fuel and adds vapour to the air to aid ignition. If everything is going well, the jar will make a sort of sucking noise when you take your thumb off the hole.

Stand the jar of a heat-proof surface (it will get really hot), wipe spilled meths off the top and light it.

If the jet works, and you want to use it more than once, don't let it run too long. Extinguish it by dropping a spare lid over the hole of the jet - let it cool before you pick it up!

If you get one running, add a video to the comments. One day, in the distant future, I'll make one out of metal and add a fuel-feed. I wonder how loud it will be...

The Instructables Book Contest

Participated in the
The Instructables Book Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Skateboard Contest

      Skateboard Contest
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    506 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I made one of these out of a metal pipe with ends welded on and a hole in one end. It works great! I run it with denatured alcohol.

    The only problems that I run into: I tried using high temperature paint and quickly found myself stripping the paint off due to the smell and smoke coming off the tube. And the heat causes rust to form on the inside.

    Another thing: If you make one that is welded closed like mine and you have problems getting it to start I found that draining it, rinsing the inside a few times with a little denatured alcohol, draining agian, and blowing high pressure air into it will allow it to run again with ease. The other problem is that the metal could be too hot and if that is the case it will be a little tempermental.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    If it gets hot, stand it in a bowl of water - a jet-powered kettle!


    2 years ago

    Thanks for the Ible. We had a lot of trial and error but we got ours to start. Still going to try going further with it.


    Reply 3 years ago

    It's definitely worth a try, but be very careful not to lean over the can as you light it, just in case the lid comes off at speed:


    4 years ago on Step 5

    Really cool build, Kiteman...

    Will it be a good idea to build one from deodorant cans with continuous fuel supply...? I have plans to build one XD


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work.....

    I would like to ask how many minutes does it take for the flight and how much distance covered with the fuel full?

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm afraid that this doesn't actually fly, it lacks the thrust.

    Running time varies, but is usually around a minute.

    andrea biffi

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Do you think it will work with a bottle too? It could be an easy way to break the bottle after engraving a groove to make a glass, but it probably smashes...

    2 replies
    Kitemanandrea biffi

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    It depends on the bottle - if it has a short neck, it might.

    Give it a try - the worst that could happen is that you make an alcohol lantern.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Whiskey, rum, vodka, pure alcohol should all work.

    Beer, cider, they do not contain enough alcohol to burn.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The alcohol? Ferment some, then distil it.

    The jet? Scroll up...