Build Alcohol Powered Bottle Rockets
Edited by David Collins, Doug Collins, Eng
This guide will teach you how to build a bottle rocket launcher powered by rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol).
This project should only be completed under the supervision of a professional.
The bottle can travel a few hundred feet with a correct launch! For the rocket launcher, you will need the following supplies:
- 3' x 1/2" PVC Pipe.
- (x2) 1.5' x 1/2" PVC Pipe.
- (x2) 10" x 1/2" PVC Pipe.
- (x2) 1/2" Elbow Connectors
- A 1/2" Tee Connector
- Barbecue push button igniter, extra wire, hot glue, electrical tape and a 2 liter soda bottle.
- Safety glasses & hearing protection are recommended.
Building the Bottle Rocket Launcher
Assembling the base is simple:
You will start by taking the long (3 foot) piece, and adding a tee connector to one of the ends. After that is done, take the 10 inch long pieces and a attach them to the tee connector ends.
Take the elbow pieces and attach them to the end of the 10" pieces by rubbing / twisting them on.
They will be help together with friction (no cement is needed for this project). Now your launcher is built.
6 inches down from the end of the 3 foot PVC piece, use your drill bit to make a hole for the wires we will feed through in the next step.
We notice that the barbecue igniter is a little too short:
this problem can be fixed by adding some stripped wire to extend the length of the wire. Strip both ends of two wires: one wire will be for the terminal end of the igniter and the other will be for completing the electric "shock" by running a wire from the side of the igniter in the small hole (if necessary, depending on the make of your igniter).
Join the end of the sparker's wire to the new piece of wire we stripped.
Quickly twist the wires together, and finish off the connection with some electrical tape.
Wrap the electrical tape around the stripped section of the joined wires.
Connect the other stripped wire into the igniter if this isn't already done so for you igniter model.
Fasten the wire in place using electrical tape.
Feed the wires through the small hole drilled in the 3 foot PVC tube, pulling the wire to the front of the barrel.
With the wires fed through to the end, take a crumpled piece of paper and place it at the end of the tube making sure the wires are held in place, unable to move around.
Give the igniter a test.
You should be able to see the current travelling across the wire (a spark). If you can't see a spark, move the wire ends closer together, while making sure they aren't touching.
Tape the wires inserted into the barrel in place.
Now that the wires are in place, use hot glue to coat the interior of the tube ensuring the wires can't slide out of place.
You now have a fully functioning rocket launching base with the igniter attached.
Launching the Bottle Rocket
Launching the rocket:
Pour a small amount of the isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol into the 2 liter bottle.
Place the cap on the bottle, then spin the bottle around coating the inside of the bottle with alcohol.
Remove the cap, and pour the excess alcohol back into the rubbing alcohol bottle.
It's very important that there's no liquid left inside (only the vapor)!
VERY important step:
shake any excess liquid alcohol from the bottle out, allowing oxygen gas to get inside the 2 liter bottle. If you find that you can't ignite the bottle after the first launch it's most likely because you didn't allow new air to get inside of the bottle between launches, OR haven't coated the inside of the bottle with enough alcohol; try shaking more aggressively.
Place the rocket over top of the guide rail and use the igniter to launch.
Always wear safety goggles and hearing protection when launching, and keep a safe distance away from others.
The bottle should be positioned with the neck touching the piece of tape you wrapped around the wires on the 3 foot long PVC pipe.
Video: Build Alcohol Powered Bottle Rockets
Gaming | Arts & Crafts
Recent edits by: Doug Collins, David Collins