Updated: Jul 16, 2020
This explosive experiment is SO much fun we did it over and over again. I have to admit I was a bit terrified of it at first, but once we got it going, it was amazing. I actually couldn't believe how high our bottle rocket flew!
🔲 empty 2 liter bottle
🔲 cork that fits inside the bottle (a wine cork or a #10 cork from Hobby Lobby will work)
🔲 3 pencils
🔲 duct tape
🔲 baking soda
🔲 paper towels
🔲 funnel (plastic or made of paper)
***Note: We made a nose cone and wings for our bottle rocket with colored paper and taped them on with clear tape. The wings were fine, but the nose cone was kind of in the way and basically got destroyed while we were launching the rocket. Even thought we wanted to make it cute, for this project I don't think it's necessary and maybe even better without any extra frills.
Arrange the pencils into a tripod position and use duct tape to secure them around the top of the bottle so that the bottle can stand up by itself when you flip it over.
Next, make some packets of launch activator. Tear off some paper towel sheets--I used the small size of the Select-A-Size paper towels and then tore those in half again. Add some baking soda into the center of the paper towel (just under a tablespoon of powder) and then roll it and fold it to secure the baking soda inside.
Make sure the packets are small enough to be shoved into the bottle. This helps to delay the reaction inside the rocket so you have time to get out of the way.
Take everything outside to a clear open space. Our rocket launched higher than a two-story house, so you'll want to be sure there are no trees or other objects in the way of the launch.
To launch your rocket, you will first pour some vinegar into the bottle using the funnel. We didn't measure this out, but we filled the bottle less than a quarter full. If you put in too little, your rocket will activate sooner. If you put in too much, it takes much longer for the rocket to launch.
Then shove a baking soda packet down into the bottle. Quickly insert your cork and flip the bottle over to rest on the tripod.
You have anywhere from 30 seconds to well over a minute before enough pressure is created to launch the rocket. It depends on many factors—how much vinegar you use, how much baking soda you use, how far you push the cork into the bottle etc. We found it worked best to push the cork up to where the plastic circle on the outside of the bottle is. You kind of have to play around and see what works best for you.
After a first failed attempt, we were able to successfully launch our rocket over and over again. Don't despair if it doesn't work the first time. And be careful if it doesn't launch right away and you feel like starting over. If the bottle feels really hard, there is probably enough pressure for it to blow at some point. Just wait and give it time. Trust me. 😉
How high did your bottle rocket go? Let us know by posting photos/videos @little.sunshine.mom!