Make a Soda Bottle Rocket Mortar Launcher

About: I like turning boring things into awesome things! Usually on video.

Intro: Make a Soda Bottle Rocket Mortar Launcher

In this video I build an upgraded mortar style housing for my Soda Bottle Rocket Launchers!

The design I build in this video was primarily pieced together from spare parts lying around in my garage from past projects. Some PVC from an old potato cannon, a metal strip used to support my aluminum crucible in an earlier video, foam pool noodles from my Nerf style artillery project...A lot of parts were used out of pure convenience. The purpose of this video was less to provide an exact guide for this specific modification of my bottle rocket project, and more to demonstrate how many options for customization such a design can have. The only limit is your imagination.

For those curious, here is a list of all the parts I used:

  • 3" x 36" PVC Pipe
  • 3" PVC Couplings (x2)
  • 1" x 1/8" x 36" Mild Steel Strip
  • 1 1/2" x 1/4" Bolts (x2)
  • 1/4" Washers (x6)
  • 1/4" Locking Washers (x2)
  • 1/4" Nuts (x2)
  • 3" x 8" Foam Pool Noodle (Foam pipe insulation may be a workable replacement)
  • 1/2" x 24" PVC Pipe
  • Replacement Barbecue Igniter
  • Spare Wire
  • Paper Hot Glue
  • Soda Bottles
  • Duct Tape

The rockets are fueled by the combustion of rubbing alcohol, which is ignited by the spark from a barbecue igniter. I used rubbing alcohol with a concentration of about 90% in the video, but any concentration of 70% or greater should work just as well. When fueling the bottles, the most important step as shown in the video is to whip the last drops of liquid alcohol out of the open end. This brings the fuel/air mixture to the proper level for a good combustion, and reduces the liquid alcohol particles expelled from the rocket upon launch that otherwise could melt the plastic blast shield or cause minor burns.

Be sure to wear both eye and ear protection whenever doing experiments involving any sort of rocketry.



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    17 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Awesome project!

    Can I use a gas stove lighter instead of a barbecue lighter?

    And would spraying deodorant on the inside of the bottle suffice instead of wetting it with liquid alcohol?


    3 years ago on Introduction

    That looks like an absolutely awesome project, we something similar a few years back with Co2 canisters and man did they fly, they would go out of sight at times and it was really neat.

    You could also use hair spray instead of the rubbing alcohol, it is far cheaper and it works!

    If you do this at night an put a disposable cup over the end you will get an awesome flame, it is worth trying!

    I voted for you, keep up the good work!

    8 replies

    There are a few reasons I did not use hairspray. It's actually more expensive than a bottle of rubbing alcohol, which only costs $0.99. As you can see in the video very little alcohol is used, and the excess is poured back to be used again. A single quart size pharmacy bottle of alcohol is good to fuel thousands of rockets. The other reason I don't use hairspray is because it's sticky and will cause the bottles to fog, as well as creating a bad smell when burnt. The stickiness can gum up the launcher and dirt and dust will collect making it very dirty over time, also causing the spark terminals to be coated and lose conductivity. Pure rubbing alcohol burns cleanly without residue.

    Thanks for the vote!


    Right, here in Australia rubbing alcohol is expensive and most people have to put up with the hairspray.


    Do you have any highly concentrated ethanol like Everclear? That would also work without the stickiness. Likely still quite expensive, but a bottle will last a long time.


    No, we don't have access to stuff like that, if we did we would be using it because it works far better than hairspray.

    We did explore the options before we commence progress!


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    You can also use Zippo lighter fluid or even kerosene camping stove fuel. Zippo lighter fluid come in a nice convienient fliptop can.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    You should try getting a lighter refill (butane I believe) and putting a spray head from a spray paint or something else on top of it - works great and doesn't leave a hairspray mess either. Just a tip, since rubbing alcohol is not too widely or cheaply available where I live as well.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    The pricing system is backwards here, lighter refills are so expensive it is cheaper to buy another $3.00 lighter!


    3 years ago

    I voted for your instructable please vote for mine. It's a win win. Thanks so much! My instructable: "how to make a light for your glovebox at night" thanks so much!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is so cool!! I'm going to build this with my friends this weekend