Film Container CO2 Rocket.




With a little kitchen chemistry and some bathroom brilliance, you can turn an ordinary 35mm film container into an awesome display of thrust.

I had first invented this simple device when I was but twelve years old and had a penchant for things that go boom. While presently taking a film class, this fond memory had percolated to the surface and I decided to revisit my mischievous childhood and my penchant.

BE ADVISED: This may be the teeniest bit unsafe and could result in some kind of harm to yourself, others, or objects, but mostly likely, you'll only make a mess. In any event: by reading this you relinquish all liability on my part in perpetuity for ever and ever!

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Step 1: Gather Ye Stuffbuds While Ye May.

It's all pretty basic, in fact, the only thing most people might not have lying around is the film canister. In which case a trip to your local photo hut and a kind smile should be able to net you all the canisters you require.
1) Baking Soda (NOT baking powder you fool!!!)
2) Vinegar (I hear they put this in salads sometimes)
3) Toilet Paper (available in most bathrooms around the world)
4) An EMPTY 35mm film canister (I used fujifilm, hover on the pic to see why)

Step 2: Open Yer Can.

It's quite simple, open your film canister and then take the film out.

Step 3: Fill 'er Up.

For this portion of the instructable we will fill the film container to approximately 1/3 of its total volume with vinegar.

Step 4: Could You Spare a Square?

Now rip off a single square of TP. Only one square mind you, waste not, want not. People in other parts of the world don't even have a square to spare. Some of the more ritzy double ply paper can be skinned to produce two single ply pieces.

Step 5: Push It... Push It Good.

Now take that TP square and place it atop your film canister.

What follows is one of the more tricky and critical parts of the lesson. Push your finger in the TP ever so slightly to make a small concave surface below the opening of the canister. Be sure not to puncture the TP.

Step 6: The Icing on the Cake.

In goes the baking soda (A.K.A. Sodium Bicarbonate).

I say, you ought to fill your concave pouch just a bit less than level to the surface of the canister. By doing so it is less likely that the TP will rupture in the next step.

Step 7: Replace the Cover.

Now secure the cover back on the canister.

WARNING: At this point your rocket is primed and ready to fire, the following could occur.

1) The permeable layer (the TP) could rupture from pressure created by too much baking soda or other mechanical failure and inadvertently start the chemical reaction. This will create a great mess. Perhaps even an eye injury. If it seems that this is occurring; simply remove the cover, you'll still have a mess, but no buildup of pressure and thus not much of a hazard.

2) If you knock the bottle over, turn it upside down, or generally create a lot of wishy-washy type movement with the liquid, you may again inadvertently activate the chemical reaction, with results similar to warning #1.

Step 8: Exorcise the Excess.

Take that big 'ol thumb nail of yours and start scraping off the excess TP from the cap.

Step 9: Fin.

That's all folks, you're ready to launch.

Take your little film rocket to an open area, making sure to keep it upright during transport. (I once carried one of these all the way from home, on the bus, and to fourth period).
To launch:
1) Set the film canister on the ground in your launch area.
2) Take a few deep breaths.
3) Turn the film container onto its top.
4) RUN AWAY!!!
5) Watch from a safe distance.

I thought of putting a video on here which I made of a launch, but I had a great deal of trouble converting my camera's weird-o format and whatnot. My most recent garage experiment shot the rocket up to 10 feet (3m) at which point it banged into the ceiling with a satisfying hollow pop.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL, you might poke out your eye, or at least make it a bit sore.
How does it all work?
I'm glad you asked. Most everyone has seen the simple baking soda + vinegar reaction which produces a nice foamy mess. That reaction is the engine of this rocket. The TP acts as a triggering mechanism by separating the components of the chemical reaction until such time as you turn the bottle over. At which point the chemical reaction starts to produce carbon dioxide. Once the pressure is sufficient so that the seal on the cap is unable to contain it, the thing goes shooting up in the air with a bit of noise and some splashing.

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    54 Discussions

    redcratemeat grinder

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 6

    You want to be using baking soda. Though most baking powder contains baking soda, the reaction may not be very quick or the amount of baking soda in your baking powder may not be enough to produce the volume of gas necessary to pop the film canister. I haven't tried, let me know if baking powder works? Also what brand you're using as they are formulated differently depending on the brand.

    meat grinderredcrate

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 6

    it came in a science kit it worked fine i tried putting it in a pipe for a mortar but it wasnt powerful enough

    I changed the method a bit. I filled the inside of the lid with b'king soda and covered it with a tissue.I filled 1/4 of the canister and closed it,tore the tissue away and set to launch.The canister went high and landed on my 3rd floor roof!!! IT WAS SOOOOOOOO POWERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sup, I'm just bout to make it now, I have a film canister and felt like making one but wasn't sure what kind of float I should make, (me being the experimental type have made my own that was ok, but not as amazing as this one) so this one should do it

    Thnx bro,


    9 years ago on Introduction

    at school now. on the computer during lunch. ill have to do this when i get home.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    you should try fitting bb bullets in the top and you might get a reuseable frag grenade

    mattias law

    10 years ago on Introduction

    where can you get film cannisters any more especially if you dont have a film camera