Flying food cans

Food cans fly up like rockets

Scientific name: Through the reaction between calcium carbide and water, ethyne is produced, and ethyne throws up food cans when ignited


Ethyne and flying food cans – calcium carbide, acetylene and combustion

by Royal Society Of Chemistry

Calcium Carbide Rocket

by David Read


Keep a distance of 2 meters.

Wear eyes protection.

Make sure there is nothing flammable nearby.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

CaC2 + 2H2O → C2H2 + Ca(OH)2

3C2H2 + 4O2 → 2C + 3CO + CO2 + 3H2O

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. Take a tin can and install a modified piezo-electric gas lighter into it.
  2. Pour some water into a beaker.
  3. Place some calcium carbide into the beaker and cover it by the invert can to collect some gas.
  4. Ignite the collected acetylene by the lighter.

Scientific background

Calcium carbide reacts with water producing acetylene.

Acetylene is high flammable, and explodes, when there is an electric spark between the piezo-electric gas lighter contacts.


Published on 18 March 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst