Hydrogen Rocket

An ordinary plastic bottle turns into the rocket.

Scientific name: Hydrogen reacts with oxygen with a large release of energy.


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Wear eye protection goggles. Cover your ears. Use each bottle for one demonstration only.

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

Reaction formula

2H2 + O2 → 2H2O


  1. Hydrogen

Step-by-step instruction

  1. Prepare a strong plastic bottle of 0.3-0.5 l volume.
  2. Measure its exact volume using water and a measuring cylinder.
  3. Divide the bottle volume into 5 parts. Pour the volume of water equal to 2/5 of the bottle volume.
  4. Mark the water level with a waterproof marker.
  5. Fill the whole volume of the bottle with water.
  6. Prepare a large bowl filled with water.
  7. Place the bottle into the bowl and lower it under the water keeping its mouth downwards.
  8. Put the bottle upright.
  9. Put the gas delivery tube to the bottle neck.
  10. Fill the bottle with hydrogen to the marked level. Gas will replace water from the bottle.
  11. Carefully lift the bottle from the water still keeping it upside down.
  12. Let air occupy the vacant space.
  13. Seal the bottle with a cap.
  14. The rocket is ready for shooting! Place the rocket on the launch pad
  15. Remove the cap and light the gas mixture inside the bottle with a lighted splint.
  16. The gases react with a loud bang. The expanding hot gas pushes the rocket making it fly.

Scientific background

When the gas mixture is ignited hydrogen reacts with oxygen producing water. The reaction is strongly exothermic. The energy releases in the form of light, sound and heat. The expanding under heating gas pushes the rocket making it fly. According to Avogadro’s law the equal volumes of all gases contains the same number of molecules at given pressure and temperature. The stoichiometric ratio between hydrogen and oxygen in combustion reaction is two parts of hydrogen to one part of oxygen. But since air contains one fifth of oxygen the proportion changes to two parts of hydrogen to five parts of oxygen. Measuring volume of gases during mixture preparing allows obtaining the optimal ratio between components. The small rocket created in this experiment could be considered as a model of large space rockets. The same reaction of hydrogen combustion is used to power space shuttles.


Published on 15 June 2015

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