How to Make a Rocket Engine with Alcohol and Nitrous Oxide (in a soda bottle :) )


Alright, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you might want to check out the post leading up to this where I just use butane from a cigarette lighter and an empty water bottle here: How to make a butane bottle rocket. Now, this time around I’m using a 2-liter soda bottle for the

rocket body, two different types of alcohol for fuel (isopropyl alcohol aka ‘rubbing alcohol’ that you can get from any drug/grocery store, and Everclear which is 95% ethyl alcohol which I got from the liquor store), and a nitrous oxide ‘booster’ from some whipped cream chargers–the nitrous oxide serves

the purpose of replacing the oxidizer used by the fuel (oxygen must be present for anything to burn) from the 15% O2 contained in the air to 100% nitrous oxide. As you will see, this makes a BIG damned difference in the power output of the engine. Here we go (info on where/how to get the nitrous after the video):

Nitrous Oxide–There are 2 Different Ways to Get This Stuff

Ok, the nitrous oxide you see me using in the video above comes from whipped cream chargers: here are the exact ones I used from Amazon (about $12 + shipping for 24 chargers), and the stainless steel thing I use to get the nitrous out is a whip cream dispenser: here’s the exact one I use which also happens to be the cheapest one I can find on Amazon (about $40).

If that’s too much check eBay or get yourself a nitrous oxide ‘cracker’: it’s used to crack open those nitrous chargers for…erm…inhalation (which, yes, is illegal, but using them for getting the nitrous to make a homemade rocket engine isn’t 😀 )–hey, nitrous oxide is laughing gas; eBay sometimes has them, careful you don’t break the law in your state if they

happen to be illegal because they’re considered ‘drug paraphernalia’. The other thing I refer to as a “whip-it” (lol, a few people will get that and laugh at my confusion) is Reddi Whip, which you can see over there on the upper left–there are only two ingredients used in that can: heavy whipping cream and nitrous oxide, that’s it. So you just keep the

can upright (to keep the cream from coming out, this way you get just the gas) and leak the gas out, but since it’s heavier than air you’ll need to use a straw, a tube, or something you can attach to the dispenser on the Reddi Whip and then put into the soda bottle to get the gas into it.

Additional Resources and Further Reading

Two books I highly recommend if you’re really interested in homemade rockets and amateur rocketry are: Handbook of Model Rocketry (this is sort of the official bible and centers around using over-the-counter engines as opposed to homemade ones) and PVC Rocket Engine: A do-it-yourself guide for building a K450 PVC plastic rocket engine. which is, obviously, about how to cook up rocket engines in your kitchen :mrgreen: , check ’em out.

If you liked that you’ll probably also want to try this: How to make a match rocket (all you need is a match and a couple paper clips to get a 10 foot launch)

Here’s a really cool video on how to make a solid rocket engine with some kitty litter, sugar, and potassium nitrate (salt peter–very easy to get stuff)

And here’s a cool piece from NASA on how to make a water-propelled bottle rocket with some antacid tablets (no pumping the stupid thing up with a bike pump, yay)…Also, on a related note I found this page that shows you how to take a regular water bottle rocket rig and use dry ice to get the compressed gas you need instead of pumping it up (he apparently hates that damned bike pump as much as I do): Big Foot water rocket launcher system

Oh this is too cool, these guys took the diet coke and mentos craze and figured out how to turn it into a rocket: Diet Coke and Mentos Rocket Video


  1. wow, thanks man! you should make one that uses something other than pop bottles! Keep it up, I will post a video of mine!

  2. very scientific, I think your plastic bottle demonstrates the physics perfectly and in an easy
    fashion. what do you think about maybe using acetone with nitrous, instead of alcohol?