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candle lighter bottle rocket - parts

A quickie mini-maker project: Launch a bottle rocket from a modified candle lighter …

WARNING: This project uses gas, fuel and fire and is dangerous. Replicate entirely at your own risk. Common sense, adult supervision and safety measures are required!



You’ll need a candle lighter with butane in it. Some 91% alcohol as rocket fuel — a lesser percentage will not easily ignite, isopropyl or methylated spirits will do, even 180 Proof hooch if you have it. Some wadding to create a seal between the bottle neck and the lighter tube (I wrapped and taped some paper towel around my prototype). An empty water or soda bottle to launch and, for safety, a funnel to catch any blowback from the launch.

The pictures on what to build and how to launch are fairly self explanatory. Here follow some pointers. Fire needs oxygen, fuel and heat. The fuel will come from the alcohol, the fire will come from the candle lighter, oxygen from air. Make sure that there is clean dry air in the bottle rocket, especially for successive launches. Shake the bottle out, catching wind to expel the exhaust gases and to get clean dry air back into the bottle.

Fuel the bottle up with a squirt of 91% alcohol — one 1/2 of a typical dropper pipette works for me. Warm the fueled bottle in the palm of your hand on a cold day, shake it up to vaporize the alcohol and then quickly attach it to the rocket launcher, aim up and fire.

No more than a couple of clicks should launch it several meters into the sky. The bottle will be warm to the touch on landing. You’ll see a flash of blue flame when launching in the dark of night.

You can improvise a guard funnel by cutting off the top quarter of a large soda bottle and hot gluing it into place rather than using tape.

The tighter your seal between the bottle rocket’s neck and the lighter tube the more pressure will build up before separation — and the higher the rocket will fly. An o-ring, a rubber grommet, a tapered cork, many rubber bands etc. will make for a better seal and a more impressive launch.

Be safe, enjoy!


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