In this project let's use some simple kitchen chemistry to make over 4,000 sheets of flame resistant recovery wadding, for about a dollar.
[✓] Box of baking soda: http://amzn.to/2cH4oTf
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Simple Chutes: https://goo.gl/vWeCxn
N64 Rocket Controller: https://goo.gl/AnNBG2
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This video is only for entertainment purposes. If you rely on the information portrayed in this video, you assume the responsibility for the results. Have fun, but always think ahead, and remember that every project you try is at YOUR OWN RISK.
Music by Scott & Brendo “Somewhere” Instrumental
Project Inspired By: My good friend Ritchie Kinmont from http://www.sonicdad.com, and a design collaboration we did together for the Randomizer Rocket project.
Project History & More Info:
This project stemmed from the first rocket launch I did with my friend Ritchie Kinmont (http://www.sonicdad.com) because it was Ritchie that introduced me to the need for recovery wadding.
Ritche had a bundle of wadding he got from the hobby store ($6.00 for 75 sheets), and used about 8 sheets of it in the randomizer rocket.
Recovery wadding helps protect the parachute from hot ejection gasses, which melts holes in the parachute otherwise, causing it to fail. But at about 64¢ per launch just for the wadding, it seems to burn a hole in your hobby rocket money instead.
I understood that recovery wadding was necessary, but it amazed me at how expensive the wadding was, and made me wonder if there was a cheaper alternative.
I read a few articles suggesting that items like baking soda, roach killer, washing soda, etc could all work as makeshift flame retarders, so I began experimenting with all of them.
Over the course of a month, I tested various recipes of the different powders dissolved in water by themselves, and combinations of the powders mixed in water as well. Some worked better than others, and in the end I decided just to keep it simple by sticking to baking soda.
Baking soda is a common household item, and when it gets heated up, it releases CO2 gas, which suppresses fires.
I found that about 1 Teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in about ¼ cup of room temperature water made a saturated solution, and if I soaked a paper towel in the solution and let it dry out, the treated paper wouldn't be able to catch fire anymore.
I did notice that in every test I did, the paper would smolder as long as it had access to air though, so there is still some risk of a fire hazard if left to smolder in a warm dry place with combustable materials nearby. But in all my testing, the paper didn't even scorch when the ejection charges went off.
Surprisingly, when I tested a sheet of the expensive commercial recovery wadding, the whole thing went up in flames in a matter of seconds. That blew my mind, and made me wonder what justified charging such a high premium for it.
In further experimenting, I verified that using crepe paper from the dollar store (the streamers you hang from the ceiling for parties) is extremely fire resistant as well. Just double-check the label to make sure it's marked as fire resistant on the package. So far it's actually been the most flame retarding wadding I've ever used.
Crepe paper is extremely cheap (2 rolls for $1), but you have to use more of it to make sure your parachute is protected.
In conclusion, I feel that the baking soda and water solution is the most practical and economical option for the average hobbyist. You can make as much rocket wadding as you want, and it pro-rates out to about 0.025 per sheet, making it about 300 times cheaper than the name brand stuff.
Ritchie and I have tested this wadding over and over and over again with rocket launch after rocket launch, and in every case it's held up better than the commercial wadding, and doesn't even scorch on ejection charges from Estes black powder motors, or my homemade Sugar Rockets.
The best part about using baking soda as a flame retardant, is it's completely non-toxic, edible, and bio-degradable.