As an environmentalist, I often wonder about the effect that our fun and recreation has on the environment. Therefore, when I heard about paintball, I thought for sure that someone had created a game that would destroy our forests and damage the land! No longer would we have just Smokey the Bear, but we would have to have Paint-y the Bear, as well, to protect our forests. I hated the idea of trees dripping with paint, looking like they had been shot and wounded.Of course, as it turns out, I had nothing to fear. Paintballs are completely non-toxic, non-caustic, biodegradable, and water-soluble. So, yes, they will temporarily scar a tree with brilliant color, but as soon as it rains, the tree will be as good as new.
Besides, most people play paintball in designated paintball parks and arenas ? the depths of most forests will never be hit by a paintball.After somebody told me that paintballs are biodegradable, I was completely set at ease ? for about a day. Then I started to wonder exactly how this could be true.
So, I found out more about the history of paintballs and what they are made out of:.· Ironically, the original use of paintballs was to mark trees (those very trees that I wanted to save from paint) for cutting or clearing. A man named Charles Nelson created a paint squirter that made this task easier.· Soon, Nelson took his idea to the cattle ? cattle need to be marked for many different reasons. Nelson improved upon his earlier invention by creating an air gun instead of a squirter. He came up with paint-filled pellets to shoot out of it ? these pellets would break on impact.
· Nelson collaborated with R. P. Scherer, a pharmaceutical company, to create the pellets. [In 1933, Robert Pauli Scherer had invented the rotary die encapsulation process ? his invention revolutionized the soft-gelatin encapsulation field.].
· RPS Recreational Products started manufacturing paintballs around 1972.· Original paintballs were filled with an oil-based paint. This is exactly what I feared that today's paintballs were made of, but I was wrong. Paintball would not be nearly as popular of a sport with those oil-based paintballs that harm not just the environment, but clothes, too.
They would even stain skin for days.· George A Skogg is the one whom we must thank for inventing and patenting a washable fluid for paintballs in 1987. No longer did paintballs have actual paint in them. The fluid that he came up with was packed into soft gelatin capsules. People liked it because it was stable and accurate, and the marks that it made were both bright and washable.· The question of truth: what exactly is in a paintball? We know that it is not actual paint.
Well a paintball has an outer covering that is a soft gelatin capsule, as stated before (this is made from the same sort of gelatin that you find in Jell-O? these are the same sort of dissolvable substance as the gel capsules used in medicines). The "paint" of the paintball is made up a food dyes, polyethylene glycol. Some describe the "paint" as a starch mixture, colored with food coloring.So, all in all, paintballs are non-toxic and biodegradable. And if a kid accidentally eats one, he will be fine (although it certainly will not taste good? and if he decides to eat a lot of paintballs, you might want to contact a doctor, just in case)!.
And paintballs will certainly not ruin the environment, as I had previously suspected. So, go ahead and have your fun. Just remember to wear your protective gear, including goggles ? paintballs may not leave a lasting mark of paint, but they can certainly leave a lasting bruise!..Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, fashion, the environment, and home decor.
Her background includes teaching and gardening. For more of her articles on paintball, please visit Toxic Paintball.
By: Anne Clarke