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Do Bowling Balls Burn?

do bowling balls burn

The idea of a bowling ball burning is impossible to many. It seems to be the exact opposite of what it was designed to do. But the outside of bowling balls is made of plastic, urethane, reactive resin or proactive, all of which are flammable at various temperatures.

Also, with the right temperature, almost everything will burn. This includes bowling balls. If you put a bowling ball in a bonfire and leave it for 8-12 hours depending on the size of the bowling ball, it will burn to ash.

How Do You Know if Your Bowling Ball Is Burning?

You can tell your bowling ball is beginning to get too warm if it starts “sweating.” This process is when the oil is melting out of the materials of the ball. You don’t want it to get to this temperature unless you’re deliberately trying to remove the oils from the ball.

If the outside of your bowling ball begins to crack, it’s gotten too warm. At this point, the bowling ball is most likely ruined, and will no longer be able to be used for bowling. Any temperature higher than this, which you’ll be able to tell as more cracks will appear, your bowling ball is burning.

Another way to tell if your bowling ball is burning is if it’s on fire, though this one seems a little obvious. Watching a bowling ball burn in a fire pit is quite a unique experience, and if you are not able to witness this on your own, the following video on YouTube is a great way to experience it:

Does Burning a Bowling Ball Harm the Environment?

The majority of the materials that bowling balls are made out of are a form of plastic. Burning plastic releases toxic fumes into the air which is a huge contributor to air pollution and climate change.

Furthermore, the kind of plastic that envelops bowling balls is tougher than that of a water bottle (which you also should not burn for environmental reasons), and so the toxins within it are also tougher on the environment.

Because a bowling ball is created with many different materials, some of which are still unknown, you don’t want to burn them and release whatever chemical compound is holding them together into the atmosphere.

Will Burning a Bowling Ball Be Harmful to Me?

Not only is burning plastic bad for the environment, but it’s also bad for the people close to it to inhale the fumes. When any kind of plastic is burned, dangerous chemicals are released, which can cause different respiratory ailments in humans. They can also be carcinogenic.

While burning a single bowling ball probably won’t be the sole cause of any ailments, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and just stick to watching videos like the YouTube video linked above. You can also use commercial-grade incinerators to burn your bowling ball if you really want to experience it firsthand, but chances are you do not have access to one of those.

At What Temperatures Does a Bowling Ball Melt?

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Though there is no exact science for what temperature at which a bowling ball will melt, as any temperature above 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit will begin to seriously compromise the integrity of the ball. This is when the inside can separate from the outer portion, and irreparable cracks begin to form.

A bowling ball will truly melt, however, when placed in a fire. The average temperature of a standard campfire is about 600 degrees Fahrenheit, so although there haven’t been many experiments that test the temperature at which bowling balls melt, you know at least they will melt in a standard fire.

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Can Heat Crack a Bowling Ball?

Since the outside of bowling balls are made of various plastics, resin, or urethane, they can overheat and crack at high temperatures. There are times where you do have to apply heat to your bowling ball to clean it, but too much heat can damage it.

Heat also makes your bowling ball softer. A bowling ball should be at room temperature before use, as throwing it and having it land on the laneway before it’s reached that point may cause cracks in the softened exterior, as the plastic can be molded when soft.

Cleaning Your Bowling Ball With Heat

With extended use, bowling balls will start to absorb oil from the laneway and your hands, and will begin to not work the way you want them to. You can get the oil out of your bowling ball by “baking” it, but be careful of using too high of a temperature, or else your bowling ball may become damaged.

A good rule of thumb is to not place the ball in any temperature higher than what your home taps can go to. However, if you need to bake out the oil in your bowling ball, to make sure it does not become damaged, it may be wise to take your ball in to a professional cleaner.

Is It Bad to Keep a Bowling Ball in Your Car?

Whether it is the middle of the winter, or the middle of summer, extreme temperatures will affect your bowling ball in different ways. Leaving your bowling ball in your car, no matter the outside temperature, will affect the performance of the ball, and could also leave it cracked.

If your ball is too cold or frozen, it won’t roll properly. It will slide and skid more when you’re throwing it, because it’s much harder than normal.  Too much heat can cause the bowling ball to sweat, which will release oils and need to be cleaned to ensure proper function, but can also cause cracking, as mentioned above.

Both extreme temperatures can result in a poor performance from your bowling ball, but forgetting it every once in a while won’t cause irreparable damage. Try to remember to bring your ball with you into a more temperature-controlled climate to keep it in its best shape.

Final Thoughts

Bowling balls can burn, even if that seems impossible. Placing them in any extreme temperature can have negative effects on the bowling ball’s ability to perform as usual, but too high of a temperature can cause cracking in the exterior.

Burning a ball completely should also be left to the professionals, when possible, as they will have the necessary equipment to make sure no one gets hurt.

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