Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Untreated TP Wadding?

On a Facebook Rocketry Page, a question was brought up about wadding alternatives.
Dog barf and even lettuce leaves were suggested. I put in my vote for crepe paper.

One post was about a hobby store owner who recommended to use toilet paper, but it had to be White Cloud brand. According to the store owner, it would protect your plastic parachute or streamer just as good as the treated Estes wadding.

T.P. was running low at home and saw the White Cloud brand at WalMart. I picked up a package.
When I got home I ran water in the sink and touched a match on a corner of the paper.
It lit and burned, then burned some more. No flame resistant properties here!

The toilet paper will now be directed to its original purpose.


  1. Well, I can't attest to White Cloud's usefulness as wadding, but Estes wadding will also burn really well if you touch a match or lighter to it - as I learned when I did a demonstration at Rocket Camp.

    "See? Wadding won't burn if you... Oh! Oh, gosh!" I said, stifling my desire to swear as I threw it on the floor and stomped it out.

    That was last year. One of my returning kids kept bringing it up this year.

    I also did a burn test recently of several different Kevlar sources. The Apogee shock chord burned a lot more easily - and more vigorously - than the Kevlar kite string I got from

    So, the match test may not be a good indicator. You might need to do a static test in a tube. I tried soaking cotton balls in water with baking soda, as I'd heard baking soda would make paper towels into wadding. The cotton balls turned out stiff and didn't stay fluffy like I'd hoped, so they weren't superior wadding, but they definitely did the job with no flames or even scorch marks like you sometimes get on the Estes wadding.

    1. Both of those instances were, of course, with a flame from a lighter, rather than the quick flash from an ejection charge. I think plain toilet paper would still catch easily, but obviously not the Kevlar or treated paper. Who knows about the White Cloud?

    2. Hi Daniel,
      It's still a test if you used the same lighter on all your wadding samples. I recently touched a match flame to toilet paper and it easily lit. The Estes wadding I had did get blackened but didn't let a flame start.

    3. Daniel,
      From your first post - That would be embarrassing. Funny, but embarrassing. The Estes wadding seems to burn easier than crepe paper or Quest Parade Pomp style wadding.
      I've found that Kevlar is flame resistant, not flame proof. After around 15 launches I've had Kevlar break through.
      It seems thinner or braided Kevlar is easier to light. The "ribbon" like Kevlar (flat and shiny with many fibers) I find in some kits gets replaced.
      The old Centuri wadding was treated cotton batting.

  2. I did 1 static test with Charmin toilet paper as a kid. It came out just as scorched as Estes wadding. The following flight test resulted in NO ground fire. When the next Estes catalog cane in the mail, wadding started to be included with some motors. I stopped using toilet tissue for wadding after that.

    1. Hi Lester,
      My recent simple tests using Estes wadding showed it to be much more flame resistant than regular toilet paper. They treat it, who knows what with. Probably a Borax or baking soda solution.