Turn Empty Water Bottles Into Alcohol Fueled Rockets

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

Not long ago I was challenged to create a project using a water bottle that could be displayed in a one minute long video. While I missed the one minute mark, I think I still managed to make a pretty entertaining device.

The rocket and launcher featured in the above video function off of a very simple concept of igniting a flammable vapor using a replacement barbecue igniter to propel the bottle through the air. The parts for this project should cost no more than $15, with the igniter taking up the majority of that price tag at about $10. The bottles can be reused many times until the heat from repeated shots eventually warps the plastic.

Be sure to check out my other Instructables, and take a moment to subscribe to my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Nighthawkinlight

Thanks for reading!

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    61 Discussions

    I made one of these last year, and was very pleased with the overall functionality and ease of use. I love the sound it gives off, being not to loud and not to quiet at the same time. The neighbors looked at me when I was crazy when I said I made this one myself. I also found out that you can use alcohol that is half diluted (50%) as long as the bottle that you are using starts off dry, however it is not as loud or powerful. I certainly hope this helps anyone trying to make one.

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    cube-convict

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I made it! I was put off by the expense of replacement bbq ignitions and so I ended up trying it using a standard bbq lighter (you know, the long handled butane lighters). I was quite pleased with the overall usability and the built in trigger mechanism. We get fabulous launches with 99% rubbing alcohol.

    I'd recommend against anything like acetone or gasoline, contact with either has been show to be carcinogenic. They're also a bit more dangerous as their burn rate can be explosive.

    Perhaps aerosolized cigarette lighter fluid would work. (Like they use in Zippos). It can cause skin irritation, but has no warnings on the package about carcinogens... I've also seen hairspray or even aerosol sanitizer (high proof alcohol) used in potato gun / launchers. Could be fun to experiment with.

    2 replies

    Naptha - The lighter fluid you're mentioning - Is the most volatile part of the liquid petroleum distillate.

    All of the other fluids you mentioned are carcinogens as well.

    Naptha has a lower flash point, and is as you mentioned a carcinogen as well. So don't let it on your skin, avoid any contact. It's nowhere near as explosive as gasoline, in my experience. It has a slower burn rate and isn't as dangerous as gasoline.

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    5VOLTSGC

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I made one this weekend. It was really easy to make. I reused one water bottle so many times that it finally ruptured. So wear your safety glasses when using this rocket launcher!

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    rjkorn

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I gotta make one this weekend. I even got a can of hair spray at the dollar store. you know the kind where the flammable warning is the biggest thing on the label......

    Like the idea of a 2 liter bottle as a blast sheild

    love it

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    richsmo

    4 years ago on Introduction

    One tip i have instead of using duct tape, use a candle or lighter to heat up the pipe and push it together to create a bulge in the PVC. That will create a seal pretty easy as well. I have used that method before to make a bottle rocket launcher for one of my classroom activities and it worked pretty well.

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    Pas193

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I have tried the expirement, but instead of the igniter, i chose the lighter, and it doesn't work quite well.i fired at he cover place and the only thing happened is that there is big instant fire at the opening place, and that's it . There is no pushing forward movement happening at all, is there anything i did wrong? by the way i used the butane as the fuel.

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    ivverPas193

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    It is happening because of too much fuel vapors in the bottle, you have to have right combination of fuel and air to get nice ignition.

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    Samuel kos

    5 years ago

    I've made this and it so much fun thank you for posting this!

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    monterreymachito

    5 years ago

    I absolutely love this launcher. It's simple, easy to make and FUN! This launcher inspired me to modify it and post an instructable of my design. Thank You!

    Is it possible to use a lighter instead of a replacement barbecue igniter. Such as this:http://www.amazon.com/Calico-Brands-HF12CR-Black-Lighter/dp/B000UONR4M/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1366266006&sr=8-11&keywords=lighter

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    crispyjones

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great! Allow me to share my riff on this elegantly simple design. Throw in a PVC tee, grill igniter fits into the the rear, add a short piece of PVC for a pistol grip. I wouldn't recommend starting fluid, alcohol (70% and 90%) works as advertised.

    rightangle.jpg
    1 reply