Bicarb rockets

Bicarb rockets are fun to make and launch.

Lift off!

Lift off!

We use 150 ml vinegar and 3.5g sodium bicarbonate in a 600 ml plastic bottle. It’s easy to make a bicarb rocket if you have a rubber bung which tightly fits into the top of the bottle. We use a tripod to launch from as shown below and can easily reach a height of a three storey building using these materials.

The rocket building materials

The rocket building materials

The rocket, a 600ml water bottle

The rocket, a 600ml water bottle

Vinegar (dilute ethanoic acid)

Vinegar (dilute ethanoic acid)

Sodium bicarbonate (sodium hydrogen carbonate)

Sodium bicarbonate
(sodium hydrogen carbonate)

The bicarb is wrapped in paper towel to produce a small pellet

The bicarb is wrapped in paper towel to produce a small pellet

Do this outside!

Do this outside!

Countdown

Countdown

5, 4, 3, 2,...

5, 4, 3, 2,…

Here are some .gif animations of various bicarb rocket flights. Most of them were recorded at 240 fps (frames per second) using a Casio EX-FH100 camera.

A whole flight in frame

A whole flight in frame

A little closer

A little closer

Closer still

Closer still

CIMG9875_010

Too close – do you want vinegar on that!

Hit the roof

Hit the roof

How high can you go?

How high can you go?

Viewed from above (shot at 120 fps)

Viewed from above (shot at 120 fps)

Questions (answers next time)

1. What are the word and balanced symbol equations for this chemical reaction?

2. What is it that actually propels the rocket upwards?