How to Fix a Ping Pong Ball: Your Step-by-Step Guide

A ping pong ball takes a beating.

Every time it’s in play, it gets lobbed, hit, spun and slammed from one side to another. Therefore, cracks and dents are a common occurrence. A hard slam can also damage the ball.

Good news though – you can fix a ping pong ball instead of throwing it into the bin.

Doing this can save you some money and protect the planet. A dented ball can be repaired if the damage is not too much.

Ping Pong Ball Rating System: Why is it Important?

Most balls have 1 – 3 star rating, assigned to them by the manufacturers. With three stars balls being of the highest quality and most durable; as approved by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

Some companies even give their balls four- or five-stars rating, but this doesn’t mean that they have higher quality than the one with three stars.

Balls with one and two star/s rating are largely similar in terms of quality and are likely to get damaged easily. However, they are still more reliable than the ones without a star rating.

One or two star/s rated balls also known as practice balls can get dented and are repairable. However, three stars balls are most likely to get cracked and therefore cannot be repaired.

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How to Care for your Ping Pong Ball?

Investing in a high-quality ball also means you have to take care of them. Here are some of the most important details to remember:

  • Due to contact with the bat, your ball might get scuffed and will need to be properly cleaned. Use a soft cloth or cotton ball, and gentle strokes to clean your ball. Use of soaps, detergents and/or chemicals might damage the surface.
  • To ensure their longevity, store the balls way from direct sunlight. This will prevent the possible breakdown of their components.

Fixing a Ping Pong Ball

When is a Ping Pong Ball Worth Fixing?

Since a ping pong ball get multiple hits from a table tennis paddle, it’s possible for it have dents and even cracks. In order to know when is a ball worth fixing it’s important to check the extent of the damage.

A minor dent can be fixed and the ball can be brought back to its previous condition. One or two star/s balls that are commonly used with table tennis robots to practice are susceptible to dents, and three stars balls are more likely to crack. If your ball has a small dent, it can be fixed.

When is a Ping Pong Ball NOT Worth Fixing?

A crack in a ping pong ball cannot be repaired, since it leaks the pressurized air inside the ball. Once the gas is gone, there’s no way to “air it back up” (unlike a tire). You should throw away a cracked ball. A damaged three-star ball cannot be recovered, as it is most likely to crack than dent.

A deep dent is also almost not reparable, as, if tried, the ball will have small dents in it that cannot be recovered. However, it is advised to give it a go as it may work.

Fix ping pong ball

How to Fix a Ping Pong Ball?

There are several ways to remove dents from a ball. With just some hacks, by using household supplies, you can fix your ball and get it back to the game of table tennis.

Fixing a Dent Using a Lighter/Candle

Though less reliable and subject to mistakes, using a direct source of heat is a good method to salvage your dented ball. Heat from a lighter or a candle is used to expand the air inside the ball, which pops out dents in it.

The downside of this method is that if you are not careful, you might end up melting the surface of your ball. Moreover, since you are using direct source of heat, it important to be very careful in the process.

You will need a candle or a lighter and tongs or any other suitable instrument to hold the ball so that your hands won’t get scorched.

  1. Choose the flame from a lighter or a candle.
  2. In the case of a lighter, carefully move the flame over the ball. In case of a candle, wrap the ball in a cloth and hold it close to the flame.
  3. Cool the ball multiple times and then reheat until the dent is fixed.

Do not hold the ball too close to the flame or for too long as it might deform and/or melt. It is also strictly advised not to cool your ball by keeping it under running water, using ice or refrigerating it as it might bring the dents back.

Fixing a Dent Using Hot Water

  1. Boil water in a pot, just enough to immerse the ball in it.
  2. Take the pot off. Put the dented ball in and hold in under the water with the help of a spoon for 20-30 seconds.
  3. The ball will most likely retain its shape. Take it out and place it in a fabric.
  4. Allow the ball to cool in room temperature. DO NOT place it in cool water or in the fridge. Sudden temperature change might make the dent reappear.

When the ball is cool, it’s as good as a new one!

Fixing a Dent Using a Hair-dryer

Using a hair-dryer is also a foolproof way to undent your ball. All you need is a hair dryer and a thick fabric to hold the ball. However, you must be careful not to burn your hand. Moreover, excessive heat for prolonged period of time might also melt the ball.

  1. Hold the ball in your hand, wrapped in a towel or any thick fabric to protect your hands from heat.
  2. Point the hair-dryer towards the ball. Make sure your hand is covered and the dryer is set to highest possible temperature.

It’s simple science. The air inside the ball will expand due to heat and therefore push the dent out, and the ball will recover its original shape.

Fixing a Dent Using your Thumb

Fixing the ball by putting pressure on it with your thumbs is one of the easiest methods. However, it must be done carefully as you might end up inflicting more damage to the ball. It’s still worth the shot and if done correctly, and might save you some money and hassle.

  1. Feel the dent with your thumb in order to decide where should you apply the pressure.
  2. Push the area around the dent gently.
  3. The pressure from your thumb will balance the air pressure inside the ball and make the dent pop back into place.
Fix a table tennis ball

Conclusion

Ping Pong balls get dented from hard surfaces while playing table tennis. However, it is possible to bring your ball back to life if it’s dented and not cracked. You don’t always have to get a new ball, after it gets dented. There are ways to repair it and make it as good as new.

You can fix your ball using heat, for instance from a lighter/candle, a hair-dryer and hot water. You can also use your thumb to undent the ball. These methods are quick and reliable if used with enough care.

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Wajeeh Khan