Do Ping Pong Balls Float

Do Ping Pong Balls Float

Last modified: September 30, 2023


Ping pong, also known as table tennis, is a popular sport played by millions of people all over the world. It requires skill, technique, and precision to master. One question that often comes up is whether ping pong balls float. In this post, we will explore the science behind ping pong balls and discover whether they have the ability to float.

The Science Behind Ping Pong Balls:

Ping pong balls are made from a lightweight and hollow material called celluloid. This material is known for its buoyancy and ability to float on water. When a ping pong ball is placed in water, it displaces a certain amount of water, which creates an upward force called buoyancy. If the buoyancy force is greater than the weight of the ping pong ball, it will float.

H3 – Factors Affecting the Floatability of Ping Pong Balls:

1. Surface Area: The size and surface area of a ping pong ball can affect its ability to float. A standard-sized ping pong ball has a diameter of 40mm, and the larger the surface area, the greater the buoyancy. Therefore, larger ping pong balls may have a higher chance of floating compared to smaller ones.

2. Weight: The weight of a ping pong ball is another factor that determines its floatability. Lighter ping pong balls have a better chance of floating than heavier ones. The weight of a ping pong ball can vary slightly, but on average, it is around 2.7 grams for a standard-sized ball.

3. Condition of the Ball: The condition of the ping pong ball can also influence its ability to float. New balls are more likely to float as they have a smoother surface and less wear and tear. As ping pong balls are used over time, they can develop imperfections and become less buoyant. Imperfections such as scratches or dents can disrupt the ball’s ability to displace water evenly, reducing its floatability.

H3 – What Happens When a Ping Pong Ball Is Dropped in Water:

When a ping pong ball is dropped in water, it initially sinks due to its weight. However, as it starts to displace water, the buoyant force kicks in and pushes the ball upward. If the buoyant force is greater than the weight of the ball, it will rise to the surface and float. If the weight of the ball is greater than the buoyant force, it will continue to sink.


In conclusion, ping pong balls do have the ability to float due to their lightweight and buoyant nature. Factors such as surface area, weight, and condition can affect the floatability of a ping pong ball. While most ping pong balls will float under normal conditions, it’s important to note that certain factors can hinder their ability to do so. So, the next time you’re playing ping pong and a ball accidentally falls into a pool or a bucket of water, don’t be surprised if it floats!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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