How To Make Fire-Resistant Rocket Wadding (For Pennies)


For this project I’m going to show you how
to make your own fire resistant rocket wadding, at home. This specially treated material prevents
your parachutes from melting during the ejection charge, which is a must-have, if you actually
plan on getting your rocket back, in one piece. But rather than dropping fistfuls of money
on commercial recovery wadding, save your cash and make your own, with a pinch of household
baking soda. For this project we’re going to need a roll
of paper towels, a box of pure baking soda, and a little bit of water. Chances are you already have a box somewhere
around the house, and if you look on the side, you’ll see that all baking soda is, is Sodium
Bicarbonate. When Sodium Bicarbonate is heated up, it releases
CO2 gas. And you may remember that Carbon Dioxide, puts out fires, which is exactly
what we want. Let’s get busy making our fire-retarding
solution by adding 1 Teaspoon of baking soda, to 1/4 cup of water. Give it a good stir for around 10-20 seconds,
then just let it sit for a bit, until everything settles down. When the water turns clear again it’ll be
a super-saturated solution, and you might see a little white powder at the bottom of
the glass. We don’t need that, so carefully pour the
clear liquid into another bowl slowly enough, that it leaves the undissolved powder behind. Now all you need to do is find a single sheet
of paper-towel and toss it into the bowl for about 30 seconds. Flip it over and double-check the liquid’s
soaked all the way through, and if it has, then find a place where you can hang the wet
paper towel for a few hours to drip-dry. Preferably at room temperature, or warmer. This amount of solution should be enough to
treat two full-size paper towels, and will take somewhere between 4 – 24 hours to dry
out completely. Now check this out. If your paper towel is
2-ply like mine, you can grab one of the corners, and pull the two layers apart. Just like that, you’ve got twice as much
wadding, with hardly any extra effort. To finish up, simply layer the sheets together,
and cut them into squares roughly the same size, as a square of toilet paper. And that’s
it. You just made 36 squares of fire-resistant
recovery wadding, for a few minutes of effort, and a pinch of baking soda. The best part is, you can make your batches
as big as you want, and it’ll only cost you a few pennies. Which is way better than
the price you’ll pay at the hobby stores. Now just for fun, I went ahead and bought
some commercial wadding as well, so we could open the packs up and see how they compare. Commercial wadding kinds of look like flattened
rolls of toilet paper, and funny enough, it’s even perforated to tear into little squares
as well. The packaging says the “material protects
recovery systems from hot ejection gasses” so let’s see what they do, when we touch
them with a flame. Surprisingly, the sheet actually catches fire
and burns up in just a few seconds. Let’s compare that to the make-shift wadding
we just made, with baking soda. You can see it scorches the fabric and turns
it black, as expected, but the tissue doesn’t actually catch fire, and won’t sustain a
flame. Instead, it just smolders slowly until all the wadding is spent, or until the Carbon
Dioxide chokes out the embers. Now baking soda isn’t the only option for
rocket wadding. In-fact, there are all kinds of other fire-resistant materials all around
you, perfect for the job. I just pulled a couple handfuls of cellulose
insulation out of the attic of my house, and flame-testing this material, you can see it
doesn’t catch fire at all, and surprisingly, it won’t even smolder. Attic insulation is another cheap and easily
accessible option, and is the same stuff I used for capping the ejection charges of my
“Screw-Lock” Sugar Motors in a previous project. Look for how to make those from scratch
in another project video. Now just for fun, I got a 4 pack of toilet
paper rolls from the dollar store, and placed each one in a container, filled with the baking
soda solution. A good rule of thumb for mixing your solution
is that for every 1/4 cup of water, add 1 Teaspoon of baking soda. And if you let your toilet paper roll soak
for a minute, it’ll expand enough that you can reach in and pull out the cardboard tube
with hardly any effort at all. Now to make sure the paper soaks up the solution
evenly, try putting a lid on your container and flipping the whole thing upside down for
about a minute. Save the excess liquid so you can re-use it
with your with other rolls, then go ahead and lay the sopping wet roll on a plate, where
it can air-dry for a couple of weeks. You could speed the process by putting it
in the oven on low heat, but that’ll increase your energy costs, and might convert it into
Sodium Carbonate, which will make the wadding a little less effective. After about 4 weeks of patiently waiting,
you can see my roll has dried out completely. And if you look closely, you might be able
to see how the outer layer has crusted over with baking soda crystals. Which isn’t really
a good thing, but watch this. If we simply peel off the crusty outer layer,
we’re instantly left with a soft and smooth interior. Impressively, this homemade material looks
and feels a lot like the name brand stuff from the hobby store, and even tears into
smalls sheets the exact same way. The difference is, our homemade version seems
to be a lot more resistant to open flames, and is only a fraction, of a fraction, of
a fraction of the price. Now if you’re planning to use homemade recovery
wadding for the “Randomizer” Rocket, made in another video, I recommend using 6 sheets
of wadding per launch. Push the first 4 sheets into the rocket body,
one at a time, then wrap 2 more sheets around the bottom of the parachute bundle, and nestle
it gently on top of the others. Tuck any of the loose elastic cording into
the nose-cone, then push it into position on top of the rocket. Your recovery system is now protected and
ready to spring into action, so it can safely bring your rocket back, for another flight. And by the way, if you want to go green and
help minimize your impact on the environment, try using a head of lettuce for parachute
wadding instead. The moisture in lettuce leaves make them a
surprisingly effective alternative, and the best part is, they’re bio-degradable. Well now you know how to use ordinary household
baking soda, to make a bundle of flame-proof recovery wadding that’s 300 times cheaper
to make yourself. That’s it for now. If you liked this project,
perhaps you’ll like some of my others. Check them out at www.thekingofrandom.com

100 thoughts on “How To Make Fire-Resistant Rocket Wadding (For Pennies)

  1. You can also substitute the baking soda with borax. That is what I use because we have no use for the borax that I have besides rockets, and my mom doesn't like me using her baking soda

  2. +Grant Thompson – "The King of Random"
    You mentioned mentioned using lettuce as a biodegradable alternative. Could you use camping toilet paper to achieve this or does it breakdown too quickly? It would still be inexpensive and have a much longer shelf life.

  3. I went to buy the supplies just to find out that I could've used luttuce!!! Damnit I just wasted like 20 minutes of my life…

  4. For those who have watch the magic mud , I think you should use potato starch instead of the cutted potatoes with hot water.

  5. This is awesome! Also at the end it said 7 cents per sheet, this is completely free for most people because most people have baking soda, water and paper towel.

  6. It works great and since i'm not very patient I threw it in my food dehydrator and it turned out good. There was a little crystallization but nothing I couldn't carefully rub off.

  7. This video proves DIY is not only fun, but also cheaper than commercial items. And the best part, your DIY stuff is very sciency. Thanks man.

  8. I made this wadding and brought it into school for my TARC project testing. 15 minutes later the whole school was evacuated and fire trucks were coming because the paint room caught on fire. Rate: 10/10

  9. I think the brand name wadding burns so quickly to minimize littering, so it burns up entirely. Lettuce is a great alternative though!

  10. Well, I was thinking of… combining… some of your latest videos. But just so I know beforehand, are your parachutes sufficient to land a brass rocket?

  11. Alternately, if you like a salad, you can use lettuce or spinach. Works well and you don't need to worry about cleaning it up.

  12. how long do these things last (expiry date) or can they last for years until they get really old

  13. wait he said it takes around 24 hours to dry yet at the end he says "well there you go you just made some fire resistant wadding in under a couple of minutes… xD

  14. There was a model rocket thing at our school, and we got a really small model rocket that was completely made out of cardboard. And when I got home I used the rocket with a really powerful motor, and it blew up in mid air. And our toilet paper wadding paper caught on fire.

  15. I recommend Boric acid over Baking soda. The resulting wadding won't smolder once the heat is removed so I believe it is safer. The amount I use us 2 tbls Boric acid per 1 cup of hot water.

  16. i wonder if the solution could be 'painted' onto art paper to make it fire resistant for say lighted art purposes. have to test this!

  17. Does this work on regular fabric? i.e. to build an attached parachute protector like on mid/hi power rockets?

    I may have to test this later.

  18. thanks grant a model rocket kit my grandfather gave me a couple years ago that I finally got to build today did not come with any recovery wading it would've cost me six dollars for 75 sheets Waymore than I needed

  19. We had small and thin tissue paper so I get 4 squares of tissue and fold them before soaking in the solution…I forgot that I am using 3 ply tissue so when i unfolded it, I would get 12 thin squares of the fire resistant wadding!?

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