Make the Alcohol Bottle Rocket

When I was a kid the 4th of July was a time that I couldn’t wait to arrive every year.  Fireworks were something that kids just love!  Bottle rockets were one of my most favorite fireworks because they flew through the air.

Unfortunately fireworks can be very dangerous, and are prone to landing on things that might be combustable, like dry grass or the roofs of houses.  This has made fireworks difficult, if not impossible to obtain in certain areas.  Most cities have completely outlawed fireworks within the city limits.

Alcohol Bottle Rockets are a fantastic, usually legal alternative to black powder fired bottle rockets that you can make at home for just a few pennies and it is almost infinitely reusable!

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Alcohol Bottle Rocket

How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00001

Step 1: Get all of the parts

The parts list of the alcohol bottle rocket is very simple.  You need two short sections of 1/2″ PVC pipe.  A PVC couple, and a BBQ igniter.  All of these can be obtained at any home improvement center.  Find an empty water bottle and some rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol at the convenience store for your fuel.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00004Step 2: The Geek Pub water bottle

OPTIONAL: Trick your water bottle out with some cool graphics!  I made mine “The Geek Pub Brand”!


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00003Step 3: A word about the Alcohol

The truth is, any high “proof” alcohol will work on this project.  I’ve used Vodka before and it works just like a charm.  However, not everyone can buy drinking alcohol, and even if you can you’re paying “sin” taxes on it, just to burn it up.  Isopropyl alcohol has been denatured and is not drinkable by humans (it will make you very sick) and therefore has no taxes attached to it, making it much cheaper.  So don’t waste the Vodka.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00005Step 4: Assemble the launcher

Assembling the launcher takes just a few seconds.  Connect the two PVC sections together with the coupler in the middle  No glue is needed, just press them together.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00006Step 5: Measure out and cut the BBQ igniter wires

Lay out the BBQ igniter next to the launcher and cut the wires to where only about 1/4″ or so will protrude from the end of the launcher.  Cut it too long and test fit it a few times till you get it right.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00007Step 6: Strip the wires

Strip the wires back by about 1/8″ at the end of the BBQ igniter.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00008Step 7: Insert the BBQ igniter

Insert the BBQ igniter into the launcher and press fit it tight.  If for some reason your BBQ igniter doesn’t fit tightly you can wrap it with duct tape or add a little hot glue.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00009Step 8: The completed alcohol bottle rocket launcher

That all there is to making the launcher!  It’s ready to go!  So let’s launch an alcohol bottle rocket!


Launching the Alcohol Bottle Rocket

How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00012

Step 1: Add alcohol

Add a few drops of alcohol to the water bottle.  Between 1 to 5 drops is all you need.  More alcohol will not make it go farther or faster.  This is all about oxygen to fuel ratio.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00013Step 2: Shake the bottle

Shake the bottle vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds.  The idea here is to get as much of the alcohol to vaporize into a mist as possible.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00014Step 3: Pour out the excess

Quickly pour any alcohol still in the bottle back into the storage container.  You shouldn’t see much, if any alcohol in the bottle, but if you sniff it lightly it will have a very strong alcohol scent.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00011Step 4: Insert the launcher

Insert the launcher into the bottle until it stops against the PVC coupler.


How-to-make-an-alcohol-powerred-bottle-rocket-00017Step 5: Press the BBQ igniter button

Press the BBQ igniter button!  This will launch the bottle between 10 and 50 feet depending on how good you got the fuel mixture.

Note: Do not wait too longer after adding and mixing the fuel to launch the alcohol bottle rocket.  The longer you wait the more alcohol will de-atomize and collect in the bottom of the bottle, resulting in less performance.


Video Transcript

First we’ll need two small sections of 1/2″ PVC pipe, and a 1/2″ PVC coupler. Our ignition source will be this handy and inexpensive BBQ igniter from our local home improvement store.

For our fuel, we’ll need rubbing alcohol. I used 70%, but 91% works even better.  And last, but certainly not least we need a water bottle.  I prefer The Geek Pub brand!

It’s time to go ahead and assemble to two sections of PVC pipe using the PVC coupler. Layout your BBQ igniter and make sure the wires are just barely protruding from the end, and adjust them if necessary. Make sure there is about a 1/8″ gap between the wires, and once everything is correct it time to insert the BBQ igniter into the sections of pipe and press it in firmly.

Now lets test fit it, and you’ll see that the coupler acts a stop backstop for the bottle.

Pour a small amount of the rubbing alcohol into the bottle.  In order to get the air fuel mixture right, replace the cap and shake it vigorously.  Pour any remaining standing alcohol back into its container as the burning backsplash could be dangerous.

Insert the detonator and fire!  Don’t worry, the liquid you see splash out is leftover water still in the bottle.

It shoots all the way across my garage!

Be careful with this project, and If you enjoyed this video, please help me out by liking it and subscribing to my channel on YouTube.   And of course, thanks for watching!

Parts List

2      6″ pieces of 1/2″ PVC pipe
1       1/2″ PVC coupler
1       BBQ Igniter
1       70% or 91% rubbing alcohol
1      Water Bottle (we prefer The Geek Pub brand!)

Leave a Reply