Match head rockets

Match head rockets are fun to make.

For safety we use no more than four match heads.

We have lift off

We have lift off

There are many videos on You Tube describing how to make these rockets.

Here’s how we do it:

About 15 x 10 cm

About 15 x 10 cm

But trial and error is involved

But trial and error is involved

Roll smoothly

Roll smoothly

and tightly

and tightly

This is the rocket body

This is the rocket body

Making way for the fuel

Making way for the fuel

No more than four

No more than four

Don't worry if the solid crumbles

Don’t worry if the solid crumbles off

Experiment with a mixture of crumbles and whole match heads

Experiment with a mixture of crumbles and whole match heads

Don't let the stick fall out whilst loading

Don’t let the stick fall out whilst loading

Use a second stick as a ram rod

Use a second stick as a ram rod

This tail is probably a little too short

This tail is probably a little too short

The pin forms part of the launch pad

The pin forms part of the launch pad

Wrap tightly to form an exhaust tube

Wrap tightly to form an exhaust tube

You can twist the foil too

You can twist the foil too

Make sure the pin moves in and out smoothly

Make sure the pin moves in and out smoothly

This is going to roll up

This is going to roll up

Like a party toy or tube of toothpaste

Like a party toy or tube of toothpaste

Squash the end as tightly as you can

Squash the end as tightly as you can

Pliers do work

Pliers do work

But so does biting down with your teeth

But so does biting down with your teeth

All systems go

All systems go

You can vary the angle easily by pushing the end of the pin into Plasticene

You can vary the angle easily by pushing the end of the pin into Plasticene

The launch – Wear eye protection and stand well back

This one seemed to have too many whole match heads which shot out of the rocket quite spectacularly

This one seemed to have too many whole match heads which shot out of the rocket quite spectacularly

Here are three more animations of another successful launch.

Students were not allowed to hold the Bunsen burner as shown.

Teachers do so at their own risk, but they must wear gloves and a full face mask if they do.

Crumbled up match head solid fuel seems to burn more smoothly

Crumbled up match head solid fuel seems to burn more smoothly

They can sometimes fly several metres

They can sometimes fly several metres

MUST WEAR GLOVES (unlike here)

MUST WEAR GLOVES (unlike here)

The squashed and rolled up aluminium foil unwinds on launch and is puffed out

The squashed and rolled up aluminium foil unwinds on launch and is puffed out

Launch pad failure

Launch pad failure

Launch pad failures are quite common and seem to occur particularly when the nose is not flattened tightly enough during manufacture or when a hole is made in the foil.

Answers to two chemical reactions last time

Equations for the reactions are:

iron + sulfur   –>  iron sulfide

Fe  +  S   –>   FeS

and

copper (II) oxide  +  carbon   –>   copper  +  carbon dioxide

2 CuO   +   C    –>   2 Cu   +   CO2

Both reactions give out a lot of heat and this can be seen by the intense glow which continues even when the external heat source is taken away.  Reactions which give out heat like this are called exothermic reactions.

Here are some pictures of the products.  First the iron sulfide:

We had to smash the test-tube to get the product out of this one

We had to smash the test-tube to get the product out of this one

Unfortunately, it was still attracted to a magnet, typically due to unreacted iron filings

Unfortunately, it was still attracted to a magnet, typically due to unreacted iron filings

The fused lump of product probably consists of iron sulfide plus unreacted iron filings and some sulfur

The fused lump of product probably consists of iron sulfide plus unreacted iron filings and some sulfur

Here is the product of the thermal reduction of copper (II) oxide with carbon:

Brown coloured copper metal is produced

Brown coloured copper metal is produced

 

 

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One thought on “Match head rockets

  1. Thanks Nigel – really like this post – will share with the team – it’ll go down well on the Year 9 course where the Physicists look at Rocket Physics and the Chemists study chemical reactions & fuels. I like the fact there is an element of trial and error (FAIL = First Attempt in Learning) and there is an element of danger – good stuff to get the adrenaline going!

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