Homemade Rocket With Rocket Fuel and Engine




I really like and enjoy estes rocket, and I decided to make one myself. 
I also made the fuel and the engine. All is made from the materials you can easily obtain or even have at your house right now. 

They can go up to 300 meters (1,000 ft) on this fuel. 

Making the fuel involves working with the ammonium nitrate, please before you do it, read this article - http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/ammonia_tech.htm
Especially the "What are the immediate health effects of ammonia exposure?" paragraph, so you realize the risks you are taking and I am not responsible for the consequences.

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Step 1: Material for the Fuel

At first lets make a fuel of our rocket. 
What we will need:
1. Ammonium nitrate (how to get described in the next step)
2. Baking soda
3. Water
4. Sugar
5. Jar/bucket
6. Measuring cup 
7. Newspaper

Step 2: How to Get Ammonuim Nitrate

Ammonium nitrate is commonly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer. It is also used in instant cold packs, as hydrating the salt is an endothermic process.
So, the easiest way to get it is to buy a cold pack. Open it and remove water from it. 

I am pretty sure you could also order it online, but for me the cold pack seems the easiest way.

Step 3: Mix

Use the measuring cup to add 2 cups of ammonium nitrate and 2 cups of baking soda. 
In this step it is important to keep the proportion. 1:1. The size of measuring cup may 
slightly vary, but its important to use the same one for adding everything. My cup was about 200 mL

Step 4: Mix

Add 17 measuring cups of water into soda and ammonium nitrate. 
Use the same cup you used in step 3. 
Mix everything together. 

Step 5: Boiling

Boil the solution for about 30 minutes. Stir gently while boiling. After 8-10 minutes ammonia gas is going to produce,  after 15 minutes there is going to be a lot of gas producing, after about 25-30 minutes the reaction is going to stop, and no ammonia gas is going to be producing, that's how you know you are done. 

It very important that you boil this OUTSIDE. 
DO NOT boil it inside, because as you boil, ammonia gas is going to produce. Ammonia gas is very toxic if inhaled, so try not to breather it in, and its good to wear a mask as you are doing this. 

Please before you do it, read this article - http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/ammonia_tech.htm
Especially the "What are the immediate health effects of ammonia exposure?" paragraph, so you realize the risks you are taking and I am not responsible for the consequences. 

Step 6: Cooling

After you are done with boiling, let the solution cool for 5-7 minutes.
Then add one cup of sugar and mix. 

Step 7: Dunk

Put newspaper in the solution and let it soak in there for 3-5 minutes 

Step 8: Dry

When you newspaper is fully impregnated with the solution, take it out and let it completely dry. 
Your rocket fuel is finished. 

Step 9: Rocket Engine

1. Fuel (newspaper made in previous steps)
2. Paper
3. Tape
4. Pen
5. Scissors 

Step 10: Folding

Take half of the newspaper sheet. 
Fold it twice in half.
Then in half one more time.
Roll it up. 

Step 11: Tape

Tape the newspaper you rolled.
Tape one end completely, and leave another untapped. 

Step 12: Folding

Take a piece of paper.
Fold it in half. 
Then roll the tapped newspaper in it. 

Step 13: Tape

Tape the newspaper inside the paper. 
Leave about 0.5 inch gap on one side.
Cut the left over part on the other side and tape it. 

Step 14: Hole for a Wick

At the side you left a 0.5 inch gap put the rod from the pen inside. 
Fold the sides and tape them. 

Step 15: Wick

Roll the newspaper and insert it into the previously made hole. 
Your engine is ready. 

Step 16: Rocket

Now there is different ways you could launch it.
1. Tape a stick to an engine and launch it just like that (step 17)
2. Make a rocket yourself (step 18)
3. Insert this engine into estes rockets and launch it.

Step 17: Launching the Engine

Take a stick, preferably really light one and tape it to the engine. 
Put the end of the stick into the ground, light up the wick and enjoy. 

Step 18: Homemade Rocket

1. Bottle
2. Cardboard
3. "Airborn" or "M&M" flask, or anything with that round, "rocket" shape. 

Step 19: Rocket

Cut cardboard into triangle shape and glue these "triangles" around the body of the rocket.
Make another hole at the other end of the rocket body.
Cut off the top of the bottle, roll it, and glue it inside the rocket body. 
Also, if you are going to launch it from the estes launching platform, take a little piece of paper roll it and tape to the side of the rocket. (Thats how you will secure your rocket on the platform)

Step 20: Lauch

Now go out and launch your rocket. 
I will soon upload the videos. 

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78 Discussions


Question 4 months ago on Introduction

would it be a good idea too wear a gas mask or does the gas make contact with skin if not covered.


Question 1 year ago



Question 1 year ago

I really like this instructable! It is super cool to finally find a rocket fuel that is easily made WITHOUT potassium nitrate (too powerful for my uses).

Anyway, I was wondering how much fuel your recipe of a 1:1 two cup mixture would make? I was thinking about 4 sheets of newspaper, but I'm not sure.

Thank you!


2 years ago

superb very innovative


2 years ago

Use: potassium Nitrate. (found in stump remover) and sugar then blend it up.

that can create nice fuel

There is no way to make rocket fuel without something that explodes. It wouldn't work at all if there was no explosions.


Reply 3 years ago

*pressure, as made from explosions. I cite rocket balloons.
Also, combustion, not explosions, if I can nitpick without looking like a nerd. Explosions powerful enough to send up anything would do it in pieces. Even solid gunpowder from Estes is packed extremely tight so it burns very slowly (what with limited O2 for burning)


Al HamshariAlex_T

Reply 2 years ago

ALex, gunpowder contains plenty of O2, so packing it makes it much more powerful, rather than slow cumbustion. Btw , there will be no explosion as long as there is an escape way for the gases. Dont ask Newton, ask yourself.

Alex_TAl Hamshari

Reply 2 years ago

Packing gunpowder gives less space for each piece of gunpowder to burn, and it needs space for the exhaust gases to go, so it doesn't burn when there's no space for gases to escape, aka when it's packed. It only burns on exposed sides, meaning it burns slower. There won't be an explosion without a way for gases to escape because it won't burn.


Reply 3 years ago

Be proud of your nerdyness. It means youve been at least somewhat properly educated


Reply 3 years ago

Rocket fuel doesnt explode if used properly. It combusts, much like the gasoline or diesel fuel in your engine. But instead of pushing a piston head, it applies the thrust directly out its jet

You don't always need explosives to propel a rocket, for example, if you have ever seen a bottle rocket, it just shoots straight up from fuel, that's why it makes a" swoosh" sound when it takes off


Reply 3 years ago

Try using a baking soda and vinegar rocket. The kids and I had one years ago and it launched pretty well...had to ask the neighbors to retrieve it from their yard!


Reply 3 years ago

While those rockets are fun, you cant (safely) get them up more than about 50 feet. To achieve any real altitude, true pyrotechnic rockets are needed


Reply 3 years ago

Potassium nitrate isnt inherintly explosive. In fact, its sold in bulk at hardware stores under the name "stump remover"


Reply 3 years ago

water rockets, compressed gas rockets(vinegar and hydrogen peroxide), even Co2 rockets ...use your imagination and experiment and have fun just ALWAYS REMEMBER SAFETY IS MOST IMPORTANT


Reply 3 years ago

You mean vinegar and baking soda? There's little reaction from that and hydro perox.


In case you didn't know, rocket fuel needs combustion to create thrust. If you don't want to use chemicals like KNO3 and (NH4)(NO3), then try a bottle rocket. They run on water but they are not as fantastic as a fire propelled rocket.


Reply 4 years ago

just an fyi, not sure, about ammonium nitrate, but potassium nitrate is an oxidizer, meaning that by itself, it is not flammable. if you add the other ingredient you needed to make the propellant (powdered sugar), then it becomes dangerous and flammable. the potassium nitrate and powdered sugar is a better and less hazardous way to make rocket fuel anyways, no production of ammonia gas.