The Chemistry of a Ping Pong Ball


The game of Ping Pong originated in the 1880s England by an upper class Victorian gentleman, who mimicked outdoor tennis on the dinner table using anything from books as nets to wine corks as balls. I chose the ping pong ball because me and my friends one day, just the pyros we are, lit ball on fire. Funny thing is this happend around the time we picked our …, weird coincidence, but i'm smarter for it!

Composition of ...


first synthetic plastic developed in the 1860s and 70s but first Patented by Alexander Parkes in 1856

-compounds created out of nitrocellulose and camphor(vegetable oil)


Formation-75% nitrocellulose+11% nitrogen,

Resistant to water, oils, and dilute acids.

Substitute for Natural materials such as ivory and horns to make anything from combs to eyeglass frames.

** 2 main components: nitrocellulose and camphor

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components


Made from the nitration of Cotton (Nitric Acid + Wood fibers or starch = Nitrocellulose)

Also known as Cellulose Nitrate, Soluble Gun Cotton, Iodion Cotton Cellodion Wool, Pyroxylin

Formula C6H7N3O11

Used to make anything from Smokeless Gun Powder, solid rocket propellants, waterproof fuses(pyrotechnics),and highly explosive Nitroglycerin!

For a cool experiment of making Nitrocellulose

look here:


Found naturally in the tree Cinnamomum Camphora

Formula C10H16O

The leaves and bark of the tree are put in distiller and a white crystal.

Chemistry's Role

Flat Celluloid sheets and submerged and soaked in hot alcohol, when soft its pressed into a hemispherical shape. After being trimmed and hardened the mold is joined with another half of the same weight. They and stuck together with an alcohol based glue. Then put into a machine that will smooth the surface of the ball. Lastly it goes to being stamped and packaged.

Background Research

  • The Diameter of a ping pong ball was originally 38mm and had a mass of 2.7 grams
  • The ball should bounce 24-26 cm high when dropped from 30.5cm high on a steel block.
  • The gas inside the Balls is really just the normal everyday that we breath.
  • There are three quality of balls: 1 stars, 2 stars, 3 stars.3 being the best.
  • Made out of a celluloid plastic material that is high-bouncing and air-filled.


All about Ping Pong Balls





About the Author

Nickos is a junior at senior high. He plays basketball for senior and has a letter in it. He dreams of going to Montana State University where he will hopefully continue to play basketball. He is an average student with a great personality, nice smile, and wonderful hair. Nickos attends the career center where he takes an engineering class and is also in Engineering Club.