The JE Pyrotechnology Centre

Here at the pyrotechnology centre we make our business to play with fire. Some things we're working on these days are: experimenting with new types of fuel and engines; electronic ignition triggering and fire detection; fire-proof seals for fuel tanks, etc.; and just about any other practical or impractical applications for burning things.

Pyrotechnology products

Here are some easy home experiments we designed:

Must be performed by qualified adult. Read warning first.

1. Paper Powered Ramjet Engine

(final product is in the photo above)

  1. From a piece of newspaper, cut a rectangle 50cm long and 25cm wide.
  2. Fold it in a fine zigzag pattern making your way down its length.
  3. Roll up the accordian paper into a cylindar, 25cm long.
  4. Wrap the roll in foil, a few layers thick. Fold the foil's corners so it doesn't unroll.
  5. Get a pair of barbecue tongs to hold the engine, and a match or lighter, and go outdoors in an open area on grass or concrete.
  6. Grip the engine loosely but securely with the tongs, and hold it horizontally. Light the end closest to you. Lightly blow air at the flames to direct them into the cylindar. Watch out--they might want to go towards your face at first!
  7. Once you see flames at the other end of the cylidar, you can start blowing air as hard as you can. Large flames will be thrown from the engine for about 10 seconds.
Warning: Pieces of burning paper will fall out onto the ground. Do the experiment where the embers will not contact persons or flammable material.
Tip: To make the flames last longer, try using a combination of newspaper and cardboard.
Tip: Try connecting the blowing-out hole of a vacuum cleaner to the input of the engine.

2. Bacon Grease Candle

1. Take a few pieces of paper towel, still attached together, and fold the whole length in half or thirds.
2. Soak up as much of any kind of grease as possible.
3. Roll up the paper towel and apply masking tape to hold it together. Roll some thick paper around the surface and apply tape around it too.
4. Go outdoors in an open area on grass or cement. Stand up the candle on its end.
5. Light the candle on the top. It will burn for up half an hour or more!
Warning: Do not leave the candle unattended.