Monday, February 6, 2012

Ping Pong Balls and Acetone

Ping pong balls are made from celluloid.

That celluloid is made by the nitration of cotton.

I just heard someone's chair fall over.

Yes, that's right kids. Ping pong balls are nitrocellulose.

Now, before you get all excited, the celluloid used in the production of ping pong balls has been esterified. If I am correct, by treating with camphor. This turns the nitrocellulose trinitrate (gun cotton - which can explode on impact - not good for the sport of ping pong) to nitrocellulose dinitrate, a plastic.

What this does is reduce the instability of the final product. Hence, ping pong balls are highly flammable, but do not exhibit the rapid combustion of guncotton.

This is actually advantageous for our application.

If the need ever arises for a water proof fuse, and you don't have any, its easy to make.

Cut up several ping pong balls and place them in a jar that has a tight fitting lid. Add enough acetone to just submerge the pieces. Allow it to sit and dissolve the pieces of celluloid. You can swirl the mixture about to increase the rate the celluloid dissolves.

What you want is a mixture that is about as thick as pancake syrup. You've just made nitrocellulose lacquer.

This lacquer is a primary binder in many explosives.

If the mixture is too thin, just add a few pieces of ping pong ball. If it is too thick, just add a few drops of acetone. If it dries out between uses, just add acetone until it dissolves again.

Now immerse a length of cotton string in the mixture. Wear gloves and press the mixture through the threads of the string. Wipe off the excess back into the jar. Lay the string to dry. If you hang it up, the mixture may run to the end of the string.

Once dry, cut off a length and light it. Drop it into a bucket of water and you'll see that it continues to burn.

As I mentioned, this lacquer is a primary binder in many explosives. Smokeless powder contains, what? Ah, now I see your thinking cap is on and you're thinking "improvised shaped charges".

Yes indeed. Yes, indeed.

Basic shaped charge

140 Grams of Nitrocellulose Detonated.


Ken said...

...sooo glad yer back...

Diogenes said...

linked and a post at my site.

LOL Word verification. Scaries ROFLMAO

Anonymous said...

Glad you are back man!


Mayberry said...

Back with a vengeance I see. That is a good thing : ) Great stuff Catman, keep it coming! I'm gonna need to add another 3 ring binder to my "survival bible"...

Shy Wolf said...

Is this the same cellulose used in film? Gads, I've a ton of bulk film in the freezer... (just sayin')

kymber said...

i am glad that you are back too! i just received a blog award and nominated both Fel and you. my blog is pretty fluffy in comparison to yours but i always read your posts and have printed much of your material.

i hope that you will stop in to my blog just to accept the award. thank you Catman.

your friend,

Catman said...

Ken, many thanks. I think I've got my head wrapped around this weird world and hopefully it won't cause me to become so angry in the future.


Thank you! I've had some very odd verification words as well. Wonder if they're running some type of weird algorithm based upon a word search of the post.

Pickdog, I'm happy to be back. Quite frankly, I missed y'all. Even though sometimes the comments are sparse, I know people are reading, and that's all I need to know.

Craig, I know they're coming for many of us. Hopefully, people currently sitting on the sides will remember the words of Pastor Niemoller and not remain there. Maybe someone will be able to grow the seeds I plant.

Shy, if it's "safety film", it is acetate. If it is really old pong balls. Look here: and here: There were some serious incidents in movie theaters in the 1920's where the film caught fire and burned down the theaters.

Hi Kymber. I must update my blog list and I'll come by your blog as soon as I can. Thank you for nominating me for the award and for the kind compliments.