What Are Paintballs Made Of? The Only Guide You'll Need
Paintball guns were originally developed by forestry workers to mark trees and areas for felling. However, it was not long before someone realized that taking out your friends with paintballs is much more exciting. But what exactly are these projectiles made of?
Luckily, they are both safe and straightforward to use. Read on as we answer the question: what are paintballs made of?
What Are Paintballs Made Of?
The paintball filling is a liquid paint mixture that marks your friends on impact. However, it is not like the paint you would use on your house or paint used for industrial applications.
While the quantities and paint mixes differ, most manufacturers use polyethylene glycol and water-based dyes as main ingredients. The glycol is used because it has a very low freezing point, around -15 degrees Fahrenheit. This means paintballs will not freeze in even frigid cold conditions.
Rather, paintballs are simply more likely to shrink in colder weather. This may cause problems with discharging through gun barrels, so it is advised that you refrain from playing in very cold environments.
Some paintballs may contain oil-based paints. These are not recommended, as they are harsher on guns and equipment. They also have no real benefits over paintballs that contain water-soluble dyes.
How are Paintballs Made?
Paintball manufacturing starts in a factory where the paint is first produced. After, the paint is sent to another factory where it will be cased and turned into a paintball.
To produce complete paintballs, manufacturers use a gelatinous substance to encase the paint, similar to the process of encasing a pill. It is no surprise that early paintballs came from pharmaceutical factories, as the equipment was already in place. Specialist machines create paintballs and they run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to keep up with demand.
Workers will start by loading two strips of gelatin into the encapsulating machine. The gelatin moves through rotating drums that have divots and shape the casing. Once shaped, a precise amount of paint gets injected into the capsule before the two strips become sealed together.
At this point, the case of the paintball is warm and soft. The paintballs will then tumble into a drying machine, which hardens them and creates their round uniform shape. They are then removed and left to air dry before undergoing a quality control check.
Drying times can vary depending on the factory and make of the paintball. Once complete, they get loaded onto a hopper, which sorts the paintballs by weight. They are then packaged and sent to stores.
Are Paintballs and Their Shells Biodegradable?
Paintballs, and paintball as a hobby, have little impact on the environment if some rules are adhered to. For instance, it’s best practice to pick up old shells, batteries, and trash after a game has been played.
Luckily, environmentally friendly paintballs are the norm. All paintballs have a shell made from gelatin which will dissolve over time. The real problem comes with the paint inside.
Balls that have water-soluble dyes pose no problem. They will wash away in the rain or water and not leave any harmful chemicals in the environment. These paintballs also have polyethylene glycol as a filling.
Paintballs that contain oil can be harmful to the environment. If left lying around, they could also cause damage to any animals that may ingest them. Biodegradable paintballs are for sale at most paintball and adventure hobby retail outlets.
FAQs for Paintballs
Quality paintballs are generally safe and cause no harm. However, there are different types and many questions regarding their storage and transportation.
Are Paintballs Washable?
PEG paintballs are washable. Ideally, you should try to remove paint from your clothing as soon as possible to avoid staining. Some of the brighter colors have a tendency to be hard to remove if they are left to dry on clothing.
There are two ways to do this. The first is to simply hose the clothing down after playing, then get changed. You could soak them in water and laundry detergent, or simply give them a spin in the washing machine.
You really don't need to be harsh to clean paint. Avoid using any chemicals like bleach and powerful stain removers. You only need warm water, so don't place clothes in a boiling wash as it may damage the rest of the clothing.
Are Paintballs Edible?
Non-toxic paintballs are the standard and should not cause major harm if ingested. However, that does not mean they are designed to be eaten. They will not taste very pleasant.
Paintball fillings are non-toxic in case some happen to go into your mouth. The shells will not easily dissolve if you chew or swallow them. Shells also cause problems with the digestive systems of animals, so avoid letting pets get into paintball supplies.
How to Store Paintballs
The best way to store paintballs properly is in a temperate environment, with dry and cool conditions. Airtight containers and ziplock bags are a great place to keep them.
If the paint gets cold, it will harden and become brittle. This will cause problems when it moves through the barrel of the gun. If they are too warm, they will be soft and won't explode on impact.
Remember that paintballs are perishable, and won't last forever. When stored, make sure you rotate them so they keep their shape and do not go flat.
Playing a Game
Now that you know what paintballs are made of, you can get stocked up on paintballs and start a game. Find some friends and go out to the field.
For the best paintball equipment, Lone Wolf Paintball should be your first stop. From guns to goggles, we can provide everything you need. Check out all of our product reviews and select the best setup for your next excursion.