You Should Know: “Are Ping Pong Balls Flammable?”

You Should Know: “Are Ping Pong Balls Flammable?”
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Does a ping pong ball easily burst into flame? Why could it be ignited? And are burning ping pong balls toxic? A lot of questions and you will find the answers here!

A friend of mine told me that he saw his ping pong ball suddenly get flared up when it accidentally rolled to the family’s charcoal stove in the yard. He panicked while putting the flame off.

Next day, he asked me whether those balls are naturally flammable, or is there any chemical reaction? And also, does burning ping pong ball produce any harmful substance?

I believe that you are also keen to know the answer. And this is what I explained to my friend!

Ping pong balls have a flammable nature

If you want to try out some tests at your home, please study the Do’s and Don’ts beforehand. Remember, you had better do it in the outdoor so that you will not damage anything in your house.

Get yourself a ping pong ball and a lighter. As soon as you light up the fire on the surface of the ball, it ignites readily and burns quickly, leaving black ash and a ring of adhesive used to join the two halves.

They need neither special conditions nor additional catalyst to ignite a ping pong ball. It will be naturally flammable when exposed to enough heated temperature. Nail polish, old film, and lacquer on some music instruments burn the same way.

A ping pong ball is burning

But why does it happen? Keep reading this article to know more!

Why do ping pong balls burn so fast?

What are they made of?

Many of you may think that the air filled in the ball causes its burning. But the fact is it occurs due to the material used for making of the ball. So how are they made?

Manufacturers make ping pong balls from celluloid which is easy to catch fire and immediately flammable after a few seconds. Even the flame spreads pretty quicker than you can imagine, and it sometimes explodes.

Another reason is that the old ping pong balls were made of acidified celluloid. This compound gets unstable over time, and even a slightest spark or ignition could lead to a huge fire.

Why was celluloid chosen to manufacture ping pong balls?

People initially used rubber for making the balls and cloth for covering. Otherwise, they used cork and wrapped balls with webbing. However, the problems of those materials were that rubber was too bouncy, while cork was low on the bounce. They made people tired when playing because of their issues.

Celluloid was chosen to replace all the old ball materials to solve this problem. First released in 1990, it successfully gave a quality bounce to the players during ping pong games.

After that, manufacturers have used celluloid for making ping pong balls for a long time because of its lightness, durability and standard bounce. Of course, after some burning accidents, people started to think of new materials to address this issue. But why is it so flammable? Let’s find out below!

Why is celluloid so flammable?

Celluloid is not a specific substance as it consists of nitrocellulose (74%), camphor (24%), and other components. Its high flammability is the result of its chemical structure.

Celluloid structure

When hitting, the nitrate groups in celluloid break off from its structure and release nitrogen gases in the air. Thus, nitrocellulose doesn’t need external oxygen to keep burning because the reaction itself produces enough oxygen.

With such compounds when being burnt and smoked, are they toxic?

Are burning ping pong balls toxic?

It will be toxic if you inhale a considerable amount of celluloid burning smoke. But you have no reason to do that.

So there are no potential dangers if you accidentally breathe in the smoke of a burning ping pong ball. Yes, they are toxic at some points, but it’s will not as deadly as you imagine. And trust me, you don’t need to test it!

Igniting a ping pong ball has no other purposes than to experiment. But sometimes, they may catch fire when exposed to heat conditions. In that case, if you unintentionally inhale a bit burning smoke, have a piece in mind that it will not damage your health.

Final thoughts

After recognizing the potential dangers of the flammability of celluloid, ITTF decided to use poly-plastic for making ping pong balls. The new plastic balls are stronger, and many players use it worldwide.

You can replace your old celluloid balls with the new plastic ones to reduce the risk of burning.

You can share your thoughts on the comment section below. And don’t forget to like and share this article if you think it’s useful and informative.

Source: Sport Life Z

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