Bi-Carb Powered Rocket

by tastybento, published

Bi-Carb Powered Rocket by tastybento Jun 11, 2010

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This is a vinegar and bicarb-powered rocket that will blast into space! Well a few inches or feet!

UPDATE: We had lift off today (6/13/2010)!

In order to make it blow, you need to make the rocket and base airtight. I\'ve uploaded Rocket Base 2, which has a larger diameter than Base 1, which is too small. Once you've printed #2 out, use sandpaper to make it smooth and exactly the same size as your rocket "engine". In the end, I found that the rocket itself was airtight enough. Also, I think that using modeling clay to fill the holes works too.


  1. Print out rocket and base #2 (I left #1 just for reference)
  2. Make sure that the rocket is airtight by blowing into it. If it isn't patch it up using acetone, or paint or something.
  3. Make sure the rocket fits snuggly to the base and forms a good seal. You want to have the rocket build up pressure and then break the seal. Sand the base protrusion until it is smooth and mates with the rocket with a tight seal.
  4. Put some modeling clay into the base to make it airtight. Roll out a bit, drop it in and squish it with the blunt end of a pencil or pen.
  5. Fill the rocket with vinegar, leaving about 3/4" space for the powder.
  6. Pour some pure baking soda (Arm & Hammer) into the base (baking powder works, but isn't as powerful). I used a kids cup straw (wide diameter) to fit up about an inch of powder. Then I could pop the straw into the base of the rocket and quickly pour the powder in.
  7. Push the base and rocket together, but not super tight and shake
  8. Put the whole lot on the ground and DON\'T PUT YOUR HEAD IN THE WAY
  9. Wait and hope it breaks the seal and takes off! OR to break the seal manually hold the base on the surface and rotate the rocket by pushing on the fins.
  10. TAKE OFF!!!

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This rocket was great, although it took my son and I 20 runs to really get the hang of it. We did it for his science project and were able to vary the vinegar 2ml, 4ml up to 10ml while keeping the baking soda fixed at about 1/8tsp (~1/2 base), and found a very linear relationship between horizontal distance and amount of vinegar. We would release the rocket by pushing up with the backs of our thumbs at wait height (3feet), at about 45 degrees. The farthest horizontal distance was 180 feet!
Do not stuff base with baking soda. Gently fill, do not tap it down.
Make sure base is completely dry before putting in baking soda. The baking soda should pour out smoothly of the base.
Getting a feel for how tight to put the rocket on the base takes time.
Shake rocket a few times and give about 10 seconds for everything to react.
Wear goggles, you will get a face full of vinegar.

I got mine to fly 3 - 5 feet. I had difficulty getting an air tight seal to the base, but it did fly and the kids and I had fun.

True success! Today, powered by pure bicarb ($1.99) and 5% strength pickling vinegar ($0.99) it flew as high as the house - about 30 foot! Unfortunately, the wind blew it onto the roof and it's now in the gutter. :'( This design works though!

I just had take off! It went about a foot, not super high, but it flew! It turned out that getting a good seal around the base was more important. I did get some leakage from the rocket and I'll fill those holes now I know where they are, but it flew, I really can't believe it! See updated instructions. Next time I'll use pure bicarb. Also, I think I might make the rocket more bulbous to get more fuel in it, and sealing with acetone to build up more pressure.

I use a little bit of acetone to make ABS models air/water tight. Just put a few drops in the rocket and roll it around the acetone will melt the ABS fusing it together.

Screw bi-carb.....gun powder all the way!

have you tried painting it?

Use superglue to plug up holes that you find. Try upping the shells in skeinforge. Especially base layers and sparse layers. You could try lowering your line thickness temporarily to get bad build quality but an airtight object.

FDM is very very hard to make smooth. Try to add a cork instead of the plug in the base. That would make it water tight. Also look into this to smooth out the whole rocket.


If you go down this path you might need to design metal fixtures for both parts to make then exact.

Very cool design! ;)

Mark F

Yes, it'll definitely work if you can get the pressure up! I was given a toy that is vinegar and bicarb powered and it pops gloriously. I did think about the diet coke and Mentos thing too, but I'm going to try the original recipe first and see. Glasses on! 8-)

No offense, but do you really think baking soda and vinegar have the oomph to fire this thing? Try expanding the base to hold a mento or two, and fill the rocket with diet coke. Wait, you'd need the mentos in the rocket,and the coke in a huge, bottle sized base. I want to try this!