How to make smoke from a ping-pong ball

Making a smoke machine using a ping-pong ball

Is it pos­si­ble to make a huge smoke cloud from a ping-pong ball? Watch on…

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

  • Do not at­tempt your­self!
  • Per­form this ex­per­i­ment only in the pres­ence of a spe­cial­ist.
  • Do not con­duct this ex­per­i­ment in­doors.

Reagents and equip­ment

  • ping-pong ball;
  • foil;
  • pen­cil;
  • tweez­ers;
  • lighter.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Care­ful­ly cut a ping-pong ball into small pieces. Use a pen­cil to wrap the pieces in foil. The hole the pen­cil leaves will pro­vide an av­enue for air to en­ter and smoke to exit. Hold the con­trap­tion with tweez­ers and heat it over a flame. Thick white smoke should be­gin bil­low­ing out!

Process de­scrip­tion

The ping-pong ball con­sists of cel­lu­loid – ni­tro­cel­lu­lose-based plas­tics and var­i­ous ad­di­tives. Cel­lu­loid was once used to man­u­fac­ture pho­to­graph­ic films, chil­dren's toys, rulers, and much more, but its us­age was lat­er re­duced due to its high flamma­bil­i­ty. Cel­lu­loid burns quick­ly and bright­ly in open air, but smol­ders when heat­ed in foil, pro­duc­ing a large amount of smoke. Smoke con­sists of par­ti­cles of par­tial­ly-burned ad­di­tives. This ex­per­i­ment is high­ly ef­fec­tive, but you should not at­tempt it with­out pro­fes­sion­al su­per­vi­sion. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, not ev­ery ping-pong ball is made of cel­lu­loid, so check its сom­po­si­tion be­fore per­form­ing the ex­per­i­ment. Com­bus­tion re­ac­tion:

4[C₆H₇(NO₂)₃O₅]ₙ + 9O₂=24­CO₂+14H₂O+6N₂