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Probably not really safe for... anywhere.
April 17, 2013 6:14 AM   Subscribe

Turn empty water bottles into alcohol fueled rockets. [slyt]
posted by quin (34 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Even awesomer project from the same guy
posted by DU at 6:19 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


You had me at "alcohol".
posted by tommasz at 6:29 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


turn empty bottles into alcohol-filled bottles amirite
posted by Eideteker at 6:32 AM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I did not need to know about this. Thank you!
posted by slogger at 6:36 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Excellent! It's probably a good thing I didn't have YouTube as a kid. When my nephew is a few years older I may finally get around to making a soda-bottle water rocket rig, which should allay his parents' concerns over singed eyebrows.
posted by usonian at 6:40 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having looked at old 1950s amateur science books I couldn't help thinking that back then they'd probably recommend actual rocket fuel and point out your local drug store would have it. "Mom, I'm going to Walgreens to get some more hydrazine and a candy bar!"
posted by crapmatic at 6:40 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I would have been all over this as a kid.

As an aside, where did this "catching fire to" nonsense come from? Something catches fire, but you set fire to it.
posted by Decani at 6:47 AM on April 17, 2013


Ha! We did this in college, but we called it "Fire Games", and our launch mechanism was much less sophisticated. We simply put a hole in the cap and ignited the alcohol through the hole. We probably would have killed ourselves if we had the internet at our disposal back then, or at least we'd have a few stains on our criminal record.
posted by mollweide at 6:52 AM on April 17, 2013


crapmatic, if you ever get a chance, check out the book After Dinner Science. There was a copy in my house growing up and I spent a lot of time reading the experiments, which was a largely frustrating exercise because so many of them called for things that had become much more difficult, if not impossible, to obtain down at the drug store.

If I recall correctly, one experiment showed how it was possible to ignite carbon tetrachloride (commonly used in fire extinguishers at the time.) Another involved pouring hydrochloric acid into a glass of sugar, causing a huge carbon snake to erupt. I think there were also instructions on synthesizing rayon and fake wintergreen scent out of then-common household stuff. You know, stuff to entertain your guests around the dinner table!
posted by usonian at 6:58 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eideteker: "turn empty bottles into alcohol-filled bottles amirite"

I do it the other way around.
posted by Splunge at 7:01 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is reminiscent of the tennis ball cannon.
posted by plinth at 7:02 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hydrochloric acid is easy to find. Any pool supply or Home Depot place will have it, though it's often called Muriatic acid. It's used to lower the pH of the pool water.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:04 AM on April 17, 2013


Totally off topic, but I had the most demonic idea when I was a kid. I thought of removing the light bulb in a transparency projector and hooking the + and - light bulb wires to a model rocket solid fuel ignitor. Then when the teacher turned on the projector, the rocket solid fuel would ignite inside the projector, and all hell would break loose. Never did it though.
posted by goethean at 7:17 AM on April 17, 2013


Yep, just about to chime in with the muriatic acid. I almost bought some the other day because I'm attempting to etch steel. I went with copper sulfate instead, which is also available at the hardware store as "root killer".
posted by DU at 7:26 AM on April 17, 2013


The gas grill igniter is also one of the main components of the spud gun.
posted by jquinby at 7:33 AM on April 17, 2013


Ah, the spud gun. I'm amazed I'm still alive after building one of those in high school.

Two-part epoxy does not hold PVC together nearly well enough to keep it from blowing the whole thing apart, FYI.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:35 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


He maybe should have emphasized removing excess alcohol, probably makes a big difference. Fins and a heavy sharp nose cone... no don't do that either.
posted by sammyo at 7:49 AM on April 17, 2013


Back in college at a physics beer bust, one guy had a five gallon glass water bottle. He poured a small amount of isopropyl into it and began rolling it on it side on his lap. After a minute or so of this he held a lighter to the mouth of the opening. It began to pulse with a flame. Quite impressive.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:19 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wish this guy would enunciate more. I can barely understand what he's saying.
posted by orme at 8:35 AM on April 17, 2013


this is cool and i will build one, but....that's not a rocket
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:20 AM on April 17, 2013


Thanks, plinth, that brings back fond memories. No one, especially kids in the 9-12 year old range, should ever build those tennis ball cannons. (For which White Rock Soda made the perfect size cans, the ones with the faerie that showed her boobs, circa 1978). Because they are dangerous. Especially if you soak the tennis balls in lighter-fluid before launching them, so that they become flaming tennis ball projectiles whizzing around the cul-de-sac . Which would be much more dangerous, for sure. And if someone launches one at you (which, I cannot stress enough, no one should ever do), you should definitely not retaliate with bottle rockets. Which are also extremely very dangerous. And illegal in many states.

Stick with playing video games, kids. You'll be safer. And you won't have to explain the powder-burns, and why you burned off the hair on your arm to your Mom. And why you had to buy six cans of soda. Yup. Nice, safe video games. Kids today got it lucky with their iPhones and their hippety-hop music.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


backseatpilot:

I learned that one the hard way as well. I decided to research and refine my approach, which surprisingly didn't lead to my death or any grave injury.

Plumbers Goop works surprisingly well, and has the decency to stretch before it breaks- which can lead to some very entertaining scenarios where something "mostly" blows apart, then snaps back together in a cartoonish fashion.

You can learn a surprising amount by reading what the hard-core nerf modders do. I tried to apply what I learned there to systems that used MUCH more pressure, with varying degrees of success... There are the crazy guys there that make nerf cannons that require compressors to fire, and they do this with comically meager materials.

This had the fortunate side effect of me being able to successfully tackle many more plumbing tasks around the house, but it's not exactly the studliest of reasons to have that knowledge... I find that stating "I modified nerf weaponry to the point of near lethality that I sold on ebay" doesn't have the same impact as "I created improvised weaponry for resale on the free market."
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:47 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two-part epoxy does not hold PVC together nearly well enough to keep it from blowing the whole thing apart, FYI.

I am certainly not making any kind of effort to encourage people to create these kinds of weapons of mass potatoing, however I would be remiss to not point that PVC glue when used in conjunction with primer creates a bond that is virtually unbreakable and really can only be removed by completely cutting the weld out.

We use it for any number of fish tank applications and it'd be surprised if the welds ever broke before the pipe did when placed under pressure.

Just, you know, FYI and all that.
posted by quin at 11:05 AM on April 17, 2013


PVC cement is what you want to use. The PVC will break WELL before the cement does.
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:17 AM on April 17, 2013


Yeah, version 2 definitely was built with PVC cement. I'm just glad the PVC never exploded.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2013


After a minute or so of this he held a lighter to the mouth of the opening. It began to pulse with a flame. Quite impressive.

They made something like this on Mythbusters last season. I think they actually called it a "pulse rocket" or some such.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:56 PM on April 17, 2013


I remember being a kid and my dad and I working on sugar-powered rockets, which were dangerous enough. This is like sugar rockets on steroids. Booze steroids.
posted by LukeLockhart at 1:35 PM on April 17, 2013


WOW. These work really well. So I hear.
posted by pupsocket at 6:53 PM on April 17, 2013


Stick with playing video games, kids. You'll be safer.

Model rockets using commercial rocket motors and following the appropriate safety codes are very safe. Buy yourself some Estes models. Attend a launch event hosted by your local rocket club.

There are also high power rockets. I have flown a rocket to 15,000 feet and a friend has flown to 90,000 feet. There are people doing this regularly not far from you.
posted by neuron at 8:36 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had several Estes rockets as a kid. One thing I recall, to this day, were the parts of the catalog that discussed kids stuffing match heads into used CO2 cylinders. This was obviously a thing. They had many stories of kids blowing off fingers. It seems that when you pack match heads into a steel cylinder they can easily spontaneously combust. And the result is the equivalent of a bomb. I didn't know that as a kid. But I never wanted to try it either.

Be careful kids.
posted by Splunge at 9:13 PM on April 17, 2013


I did the match-heads in a CO2 cylinder thing. It was safe enough as long as you used the kind of matches that come in books, rather than the strike on anything ones.

The effect was pretty impressive; they took off like, well, a rocket. I stopped playing with them when I realized that, at close range, they probably had the impact potential similar to a shotgun slug, only completely unpredictable in terms of flight path.

I enjoyed playing with dangerous stuff, but at some point, it crosses into the realms of irresponsible.

And a fair bit after that point, I finally decided to put an end to the fun.
posted by quin at 7:29 AM on April 18, 2013


I enjoyed playing with dangerous stuff, but at some point, it crosses into the realms of irresponsible.

OTOH, the little matchsticks-wrapped-in-foil rockets are fairly safe, and just effective enough to amuse small children. Their role as a rocket-gateway is probably still something of a question mark.
posted by jquinby at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2013


Oh, the off-label things we did with Estes rockets made our tennis-fireball vs. bottlerockets fights look tame in comparison. Horribly, terribly irresponsible and gave a bad name to good model-rocket enthusiasts everywhere. I won't go into details, other than to say that the top part of the model rocket engine that is used to blow the nose-cone out and deploy the parachute, or ignite another engine in the case of multi-stage rockets, could also theoretically be used to ignite other things. For instance, theoretically, a whole pack of black-cat firecrackers stuffed in there so that the falling rocket becomes a randomly falling, spiralling, burning firecracker-bomb. In retrospect, I'm surprised no one got more than a few minor burns and lacerations.

Hey - don't do that stuff. I was a rotten kid. My stories are meant as cautionary and you should not be amused by them. Someone could have put an eye out.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:52 AM on April 18, 2013


backseatpilot: Ah, the spud gun. I'm amazed I'm still alive after building one of those in high school.

Two-part epoxy does not hold PVC together nearly well enough to keep it from blowing the whole thing apart, FYI.
For the record, that may have saved your ass. If the joints didn't blow, something else would have. PVC shrapnel is not as fun as it sounds.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:38 PM on April 18, 2013


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