Wait….Paintballs have WHAT in them?

You might not believe it at the first glance, but paintballs are a modern marvel that could be considered a technological feat of both the chemistry and engineering worlds. Think about it for a second. How is a dye encapsulated marker launched at a velocity up to 200ft per second engineered to break at the precise moment it strikes something, but doesn’t break from being launched?

Am I really shooting balls of paint?

First, let’s discuss what’s actually in the paintball. You may find it hard to believe, but there’s no actual paint inside a paintball. The “paint”, that you’re seeing upon impact is a mix of polyethylene glycol (PEG), other non-toxic material, water-soluble substances, and dye. The “paint” in your paintballs is actually closer to laxatives than it is to actual paint!

So then what’s the outside of paintballs made of out of? Plastic?

Close! But not quite. Before we can discuss that we need to discuss how they encapsulate the dye! We can thank pharmaceutical companies for figuring out how to engineer putting liquid into a solid container, and it’s called Encapsulation! 

Pharmaceutical companies first figured out encapsulation because they needed to figure out how to get a liquid medication into the body that wasn’t going to be destroyed by stomach acid. Out of this problem, encapsulation was born. Today, paintball companies use this method to create dye-filled paintballs.

Paintball companies will then use a mixture of plastic, and gelatin to create the outer coating of the paintball. Following this, the paintballs are not quite round due to the encapsulation process. They are more of an ovoid shape. To fix this problem paintballs are then put into a machine that heats them and shakes them around. This shaking is what produces the round sphere shape and the final product, a paintball!