What can I use for fuel in my homemade rocket? (Beginner)

I want to build my own dry fuel rocket from scratch and I can't find a thing on the web to tell me what to use for fuel.

DISCLAIMER: Model rockets can be dangerous! If you want to use model rockets, you do so at your own risk. The information on this page is provided in good faith, but without any warranty, express or implied. For more information on model rocket safety, please see this NASA page.

Rocket fuel needs to be a substance that burns fast but does not explode - that's why you can't use gunpowder. The most basic rocket fuel is usually about 71% nitrate, 25% carbon, and 4% sulfur. Do not attempt to mix up anything yourself!

You will need to purchase a commercially-made rocket engine. For first time rocket makers, the best engine to use is type A8-3. They are the lowest power but don't worry, they still go so high that you lose track of them on a clear day. There are also B and C type engines, but for those you need some kind of binoculars and a couple of extra friends so that you can keep track of your rocket. Don't forget to put a stop inside your rocket so that the engine doesn't just shoot right through it! It helps if you buy the rocket engines before you construct your rocket so that you can tell exactly how big your rocket body needs to be.

Always make sure your rocket follows NAR safety guidelines. The rest of the NAR website also has lots of helpful information about making your own rocket from scratch, as does this previous question.

Page last updated on June 25, 2015.

About the Author

Sabrina Stierwalt

Sabrina Stierwalt

Sabrina was a graduate student at Cornell until 2009 when she moved to Los Angeles to become a researcher at Caltech. She now studies galaxy mergers at the University of Virginia and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville. You can also find her answering science questions in her weekly podcast as Everyday Einstein.

 Twitter: @galaxygirlguru
 Website: www.astro.virginia.edu/~srs5vn

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