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The "Whoosh Rocket" is a simple alcohol burning rocket that that can be built using many types of plastic containers. Bigger containers yield bigger flights. This is a fun kind of rocket that you can make out of readily available materials for learning or enjoyment. Bottle Rockets

Standing Rockets Milk Jug The simplist kind of whoosh rocket to make is shaking up some alcohal in a cleaned out milk jug. Placing the milk jug on a fire safe table outside and using a barbeque lighter to light it. Also I would recommend a gloved hand, as you will probably singe some hairs even with the barbeque lighter. Soda Bottles Work Best Good ones are made using soda bottles. Two liter bottles are the most impressive and NASA has a good article on building them safely. These soda bottle designs have a nozzle drilled to maximize pressure without blowing up the bottle. Summary of NASA Article "Do not make the nozzle hole smaller than 3/8 inch because this can produce excessive pressure in the bottle during combustion resulting in explosion of the bottle."

The Nozzle From my experience a hole in the bottom of the bottle works best though most designs suggest putting the hole in the cap. Having the hole in the bottom makes it easy to blow out the burnt gas, add fuel, put the cap back on, shake it up, then launch again... That's the launch procedure by the way. They relaunch best if you can clear out the old air. If you don't clear out the old air before relaunching, the rocket can burn slowly, pulse in and out with flame like a valveless pulsejet, and melt the bottle. A quick clean burn doesn't damage the bottle. But if the bottle is burning slowly, I don't suggest trying to put it out as you will burn your gloves.

Kids and rocket lighters "should" wear gloves.

Stickers You can decorate your rocket with colored electrical tape, duct tape, metal tape, metalica stickers, rocket stickers... Have fun! Learning For simple fun with scientific investigation you can try charting: Alcohol purity used against flight distance, distance achieved against amount of alcohol volume added, bottle size, air temperature, humidity, nozzle sizes, bottle sizes, oxygen concentration... Also different bottle shapes can affect burning... Rocket Car
This is an Alcohol Rocket Car that I made.

Alcohol Fuels Denatured Alcohol - sold as a paint/cleaning solvent and as a camp stove fuel. Rubbing alcohol is 70% to 90% - Higher percentage of alcohol works best. Aquanet Hair spray should also work and might be more convenient. Note: You should use a remote lighting mechanism for any rockets over two liters or using a more energy dense fuel. For example hydrogen and air can “shatter” soda bottles. But NASA OK’s Alcohol fuels for this application and by following general safety precautions these rockets are very save.

Author: Michael Casper


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Click here for a directory of Hobby stores in Massachusetts. This is a directory I put together arranged by town for hobbiests and toy enthusiasts. It's great to know all the things around where you live. This is a directory of hobby stores for photpgraphy, Kites, Games, Ceramics, Toys, Remote Control, Collectibles, Collectables, Doll House Shops, Magicians Supplies, and Miniature shops. Contact me to be added to the directory.


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