Today we're doing some kitchen chemistry using common household items. This is the type of cooking that gets me excited, because I'm experimenting with recipes for solid-state rocket fuel.
Step 1: Watch the Video!
Step 2: KNO3 and Sugar
For this project, I wanted to use some kitchen chemistry and a few common household items to test out a few different methods for making rocket fuel. This type of rocket fuel is commonly referred to as "R-Candy"
The main components of this composition are a brand of stump remover, which is 100% potassium nitrate (KNO3), and plain white table sugar.
In addition, I tried using different amounts of corn syrup and homemade rust powder. The rust was made by mixing steel wool (like these scrubbing pads) and vinegar, then letting it rust out over the course of 1-2 weeks.
Step 3: Mix Intimately and Caramelize
When mixed together in ratios of 60% KNO3/40% Sugar by weight, and placed on medium heat, they melt into a creamy brown liquid. This is because the sugar caramelizes and absorbs the KNO3. The smell is similar to that of making candy, and that's why this is sometimes referred to as "Rocket Candy" or "R-Candy".
The mixture is volatile, and will violently ignite if brought in contact with a flame, so extreme caution needs to be used at this point.
When it's runny enough, it can be poured into a casing to cool down and solidify. I'm using these Mega-Block LEGOs. Watch out, it's hot!
Step 4: Variations
I tried some more batches with other ingredients added, like water, corn syrup and even tested a little home made rust powder (Iron Oxide - about 1%).
All the fuels burned a little differently, but overall I was most impressed with the batches using the homemade rust.
To see the burn tests, you can watch the video here.
Step 5: The Best Batch
I made another batch and packed it into a homemade rocket motor casing that had a nozzle made from kitty litter. I was impressed to see it actually worked! I think this rocket shot up a couple thousand feet.
If you haven't see the video yet, it's not too late. Watch it here!
If you like this project perhaps you'll like some of my others. Check them out at www.thekingofrandom.com