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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Why Ping Pong Balls Are Flammable

By March 12, 2014

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Ping pong balls are flammable. (Anne Helmenstine)If you play ping pong or table tennis, you used to have to carry around several balls, since they would occasionally ignite or explode upon contact with the paddle. It's unlikely a modern ping pong ball would ignite during a game, but they remain extremely flammable. If you touch a flame to a ball, it burns from the point of contact evenly around to the other side, leaving only a delicate mesh, the strip of adhesive used to join the halves of the ball, and a fairly vile stench. Except for the smell, it's actually kind of cool! Some people think the balls are filled with flammable gas, while others think it has something to do with the plastic used to make the balls... Find out who is right

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