General Care and Upkeep of Paintballs
The Care and Upkeep of Paintballs
Extreme variations in temperature can adversely affect a paintballs performance. So, too, can humidity. The shell of a paintball is made with a combination of gelatin and glycerin (just like a capsule of medication). The shell contains very little water and is hard. Both gelatin and glycerin will dissolve in water. Since the shell itself contains very little water, it will absorb water when the air is humid. Since cold air has a relatively low humidity, it will pull water from the shell. The paint is also water-soluble (mixes with or dissolves in water) and interacts with its surroundings: the shell.
The paint itself does not contain water. When the shell starts to pick up moisture from the air so does the paint inside. When things start to dry up on the outside, the water in the paint causes swelling. The whole situation is one of give and take, and handling paintballs correctly can be quite a chore.
It is recommended paintballs be kept within a temperature range of 59-to-86 degree (F) and at 40-to-50% relative humidity. Temperatures and/or humidity beyond either of these ranges will adversely affect their performance. The longer the exposures to these extreme conditions, the less reversible are the effects. But how long is too long? In very extreme conditions, 20-to-30 minutes exposure may be too much. An exposure of 45-to-60 minutes in moderate conditions might be sufficient to change things permanently. Humidity will have less effect if they are kept in bags and securely closed by twisting the bag and tightly sealing with a twist-tie. (But remember the bags have no effect on the temperature).
In the summer, barrel breakage is less a problem than in the winter. However, breakage on a target could also be a problem, as paintballs get soft from heat and humidity. Paintballs need to be kept dry and cool. Room air conditioning may feel good on paintballs, but the air still contains 70-to-80% relative humidity. Keep the bag closed tight! If you notice a lot of bouncers, try chilling them in the fridge (not the freezer) for 30-to-60 minutes before playing. The air in the refrigerator is cool and dry and will condition them for use on the field.
· Between games, store butt packs, loaders, and hopper in the air-conditioned car, not in the trunk. The temp should not be set cooler than 65 degrees. Whatever is comfortable to you is probably comfortable for the paintballs.
· Refill loaders just prior to heading out to the field.
· Keep paintballs sealed in the bag.
· If you cannot leave the car a/c running, keep them in a cooler with a couple of cooler chill packs. (DO NOT use ice cubes or blocks! The bags may leak and damage the balls - not to mention all the moisture created!)
· Deformation of the balls can occur when they have been exposed to high heat and humidity. Oblong and odd-shaped balls will not return to their original round shape and should be discarded.
When winter closes in, it's important to understand how to keep paintballs in good working order in colder temperatures and drier air. Paintballs become very brittle in the cold. This, in turn, can cause higher than normal breakage in the carton, loaders, hopper, and barrel. Here are a few hints:
· Try to keep paintballs in a warm car while playing. (Not on the floor directly under the heater fan, but on the seat where the temperature is more even.)
· Between games, store your butt packs, loaders, and hopper in the car.
· Refill your loaders just prior to heading out to the field.
· Keep in mind the exposure times mentioned above.
· Keep paintballs sealed in their bag. (If left in an open bag, they will dry out.)
· Choose a barrel diameter to suit the day's conditions. (If there are balls rolling out the barrel, this could be due to the ball's contraction if the balls are cold.)
· If you suspect the balls have been frozen, throw them out!
· Freezing temperatures and conditions will cause dimples to appear on paintballs. Dimples can not be removed once they are set. (Do not confuse dimples with flat spots. Flat spots are often found at the bottom of a case. If you find flat spots on paintballs throughout the case, it may be an indication of exposure to high heat or humidity.)
In conclusion, remember that paintballs respond to the effects of temperature and humidity. They get hard and brittle in the cold, and soft and sticky in the heat. They breathe water instead of air and are often temperamental and unpredictable.