Chocolate as rocket fuel

[Adric Menning] has an unfortunate allergy. He’s allergic to chocolate. Instead of eating the stuff, he’s using it to build model rocket engines. The project stems from the Quelab Hackerspace’s chocolate hacking challenge which spawned a number of interesting hacks. [Adric's] doesn’t use pure chocolate (an experiment with a Hershey’s bar was a bust) but manages to ignite using a Milky Way bar.

This is not as unorthodox as you might think. Sugar and potassium nitrate have long been used to create solid rocket propellant. The chocolate version is swapping out plain old sugar for the candy bar. It was chopped into 10 gram chunks to make proportion calculations easier later on. The chunks go into the freezer to make them easier to grind using a mortar and pestle. Once it’s a somewhat chunk-free powder he mixes it with the potassium nitrate which previously had its own trip through the grinder. After being packed into a chunk of PVC pipe and fitted with an exhaust nozzle the engine is ready to go.

You can check out the test-fire video after the break. There’s a burn restriction in his area due to drought so this is just an engine test and not an actual rocket launch.

19 thoughts on “Chocolate as rocket fuel

  1. why powder the chocolate? couldn’t you just melt it and mix in the (finely powdered) saltpeter, then pour the whole slurry into your rocket body of choice?

    1. I don’t really know anything (at all) about rockets, but doesn’t the powder lead to a higher surface area, and thus a better reaction?

    2. This was my project, but im no expert. But there are two schools of thought on it, melted might be better, but unless the density is very similar, you might get layers of fuel ontop or below layers of oxidizer. With the ground and mixed and pounded version stays put.. (might be even better if one slightly baked the rocket engine after pounding it but before drilling it to get it to form one big granule.

    3. Yup, melting would be the way to go, poured engines are quite popular when using this type (KNO3+Sugar) fuels.

      On the other hand, for chocolate I would use a stronger oxidizer, something like potassium chlorate or perchlorate.

  2. I’ve been seeing AN and PN thrown around a lot here lately. Anyone who acts like this stuff is easy to get obviously hasn’t been at this long.. Even PN usage is monitored in most countries and blacklisted in most consumer markets. Even distilling small amounts from consumer products is extremely time consuming if not impossible in most places&cases cause so many companies went to soluble agents..

  3. Sugar and sodium chlorate*. That’s what my grandfather and great grandfather used to blast stumps and rocks out of the ground when digging holes for septic tanks and basements.

    *Used for weed killer.

    1. Pretty much anything 1.8 megajoule per kg or with a VoD/(m/s) of 800+, when contained, will blow up almost anything with less than a tea spoon..

      Stuff with a m/s of 3000+ can do shape charges that penetrate modern military armor using almost any low thermal dynamic object that morphs correct.

      This is why governments blacklist them all and these articles are misguided..

      1. misguided?

        if people want to experiment with rockets they should have every right to do so, as long as safety of their fellow citizens is considered of course.

        the people that actually want to do real harm with these methods are the people that dont particularly care how they obtain them either.
        breivik was an excellent example of this as the local laws concerning explosives is quite strict.

  4. I wish people would stop saying they’re “allergic” to foods. “My tummy got upset the last time I ate it” != “allergic”.

    “Allergic” is “I had an ALLERGIC REACTION to”…

    And guess what? Burning it? If you were allergic to it? That’s pretty much give you an allergic reaction within a minute or two.

      1. It’s not an allergy till your body starts falling apart or your finger tips pop off and lasers shoot out..

        On a related note: I miss when it wasn’t hip to know stuff and people didn’t procrastinate so much..

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