What are Paintballs Made of? Are they Toxic to Humans?

Last Updated on May 5, 2022 by Jezus Fischer

Upon getting hit by a lemon yellow paintball, your curiosity level has been raised about, “what are paintballs made of?” You might know how to attack and when to hide, but no one ever told you what these small bullets are made of.

What Are Paintballs Made Of

If you make a quick guess about what paintballs are made out of, you might end up answering, ‘Paint.’ But, no. You’ll be surprised to know that paintballs are made from gelatin and dyes. To uncover the whole mystery about the paintball ingredients, you have to read on.

Anatomy of Paintball:

To get a pro in any game, you must know every bit of it. Let’s become a surgeon and dissect the paintball to know what are paintballs made of.


When you take a paintball in your hand and assess it, you’ll probably think of a pill. The outer part of the paintball looks exactly like a capsule. It actually is a capsule and made of the same material as a pill. Initially, when paintball just came in, pharmaceutical companies started taking orders for the making of paintballs because they had all the required material and equipment to make these pill-like tiny pellets.


You might be thinking up till now that the outer of the paintball burst like paint when it strikes? Obviously, not. Then where does the tint come from? Just like a capsule is filled with a powder inside, a paintball is also filled with a dye inside. The dye is made up of a mixture of several ingredients, including mineral oil, food color, ethylene glycol, iodine, and calcium.

Manufacturing of a Paintball:

You’ll get a better know-how about what is in a paintball by learning how paintballs are made. Here we have included a short step by step manufacturing process of paintball.

Preparing the inner fill:

The first step in making a paintball is the preparation of the paint that has to be filled inside the shell. To make the fill, they mix up mineral oil with food color. Ethylene glycol, calcium, and iodine are also added to the mixture.

Encapsulating the dye:

The next step is encapsulation which is actually enclosing dye in the capsule or the outer shell. It is done with heavy-duty machinery in factories. Initially, it was done at pharmaceutical companies, but now there are separate paintball manufacturers. Soft gelatin is added to the machine which converts it into tiny balls. When two strips attain a perfect shape, the machine injects dye into each capsule. And then seals the two horizons.

Related: What is Go Kart Paintballing?


Soft gelatin is then hardened through the tumbling process. It is then transferred to a tumbling machine, which rotates the balls for cooling and to make a toned structure. 


After the paintballs get a uniform structure, they are loaded on shelves for the drying process. They are left on the racks for air drying and then finally packaged for deliveries.

How to make your own Paintball DIY:

By the time, you might be thinking that if you can make your own paintball, then yes. You can make your own DIY paintball in these few easy steps. Below is the list of ingredients that you need to make a paintball.

  • Corn oil
  • Flour
  • Hot water
  • Gelatin 
  • Food color or dye


  1. In a pan, boil water so that it gets warm enough to mix the ingredients. Add gelatin, corn oil, and flour to it. 
  2. Give it a good mix so that there are no clumps. Make a soft and runny paste. Pass it through a strainer to filter any solid particle. 
  3. Shift the mixture to the mold. You may use an ice cube tray for it. Then place the mold into the refrigerator. 
  4. Check it after an hour. If the balls are completely solidified, remove them from the refrigerator.
  5. Put two halves of the paintballs together and apply a sealant in between. Don’t apply too much sealant, otherwise, upon hitting the target they won’t burst.
  6. Mix the food color with oil or water. You can use store-bought poster colors. Inject them into the paintball shells by using a syringe.
  7. Close the syringe gap with a sealant if required, and your paintball is ready to strike. 

A Perfect Paintball:

Now that you have made a paintball, how would you know if it is perfect or not? Well, we have made certain criteria to determine the perfectness of paintball.

Observe the shape:

The shape of the paintball should be perfectly spherical. Neither pear shaped or oval, only a round paintball would be called a perfect paintball. A spherical paintball will give you accurate shots.

Feel the texture:

A soft paintball won’t work well. It should be tough and brittle so that it won’t burst inside the marker. Paintball should not be too brittle otherwise it won’t come out of your marker.

Check the surface:

The outer surface of the paintball should be very clean for accurate shots. If it has paint stains, water, or dirt on the surface it will spoil the barrel’s inner part. Therefore, you will have inaccurate shots.

Paintballs are Non Toxic:

They are made up of non-toxic material to prevent any suffering to the players in the field. However, the paintballs used initially, when the paintball game was newly invented, were toxic. But now, they are made up of food-grade materials which makes them a safe option for both humans and pets. The gelatin used in the outer shell of the paintball is the same as used in pills. Moreover, the dye used is a food color, which has zero toxicity.

Paintballs are Biodegradable:

Yes, paintballs are environmentally friendly. When played in any field, the residual paintballs get dissolved on their own. The gelatin gets softened and gets removed with time. However, the dye used in paintballs may not prove to be eco-friendly sometimes. Try to get a good quality paintball that has polyethylene glycol, not oil in the dye. Paintballs are not good for animals so avoid playing in the woods.


We spend lots of our time understanding the working of paintball markers just to have a great performance in the field. But having a proper understanding of paintball is also important if you want to beat your opponent. To your surprise, paintball is not merely made up of paint. Several ingredients combine to make a tiny paintball. By knowing every bit of paintball, you might be able to make your own DIY paintball at home and save some dollars to buy new paintball gear.