How Long Do Paintballs Last? – Expert’s Guide (2024)

This incident happened when I was new at paintballing. I had just started out as a player but was all hooked up by the paintball game, just like I am to the date, but a lot wiser. One day I was visiting my uncle in another town and there he told me about a retailer who was selling paintballs at a discount. I had money in my pocket so I just rushed to the store and bought as many bags as I could.

Well, if you are a paintball player you can guess what would have happened next. I dumped the paintballs back at home in my garage. And they all expired long before I could use them.

I learned my lesson the hard way.

There were many factors that contributed to making my paintballs go bad; the expiry date was just one among them.

The following factors can contribute to making your paintballs go bad. We will discuss the ways to avoid them after that.

What Causes the Paintballs to Go Bad?

Paintballs are made of biodegradable and nontoxic material. Gelatin and Glycerine are the main components in their making. Another worth knowing about paintballs is that they are water soluble.

Your paintballs are supposed to burst on impact so the shells of your paintballs need to be strong enough to come out of your gun intact but soft enough to explode once it hits the target. That makes them a bit tricky and fragile little things that need some extra care to be preserved.


How to Take Care of Your Pallets?

Just knowing what they are made of makes you see that you cannot just let them lay around anywhere and expect them to be good after all the mishandling. 

You need to store them carefully so they do not come in contact with moisture or extreme temperatures. And yet, storing them in optimal conditions does not mean that they are going to last you forever.

The word “biodegradable” tells you that they are going to expire sooner or later depending on how you have stored them. 

Here is how paintballs are affected by external conditions and how to avoid them.

How Do You Keep Paintballs Fresh


Humidity happens to be the biggest enemy of your paintballs. As we have already told you that the paintballs are water soluble, so their exposure to the air with high humidity levels is not going to do any good to their health. 

Fortunately enough, you can easily save yourself from higher humidity levels. You can store them easily at a 40% to 50% maximum humidity level, but if this level is higher in your climate, you can store them in air-tight containers or zip-lock bags. You can also buy pods and tubes specifically made to store paint.

Pro Tip: If you are buying paintballs in plastic containers, it is better to transfer them to a better container after you have broken the seal. The original plastic containers of paintballs often have loose lids that cannot hold moisture from getting in them. But they are good as long as you have not opened them.

Extreme Temperatures

If you say that you need to take care of your paintball pallets like your pet, it won’t be a false statement. Your paintballs need to be kept in optimal temperatures that are not somewhere between 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit

Extremely hot weather is going to melt your paint resulting in totally unusable paint. If you are living in a warm climate, it is better to keep your paint in an air-conditioned room. But if this is not an option for you, you can store your paint in a refrigerator too. Just make sure you have packed it perfectly, or the humidity from the refrigerator can ruin it. 

Pro Tip: You may keep your paint in a refrigerator if it is too hot outside, but never, I repeat, NEVER try to store it in your freezer. It will make the paint rock hard at first, and it will curdle up after you defrost it, rendering it unusable. Using it in frozen form can cause severe injuries.

On the contrary, too cold an environment can make your paint rock hard. That paint will not only NOT burst on impact, making it a bad game for you, but also will hit hard on your co-players resulting in severe injuries.

What To Do With Old Paintballs

How to Take Care of Your Paint During a Game for Longer Use?

If you are playing in extreme weather, it does not mean that you can let your paint sit around on a table that is exposed to direct sunlight. Your paint is either gonna melt there or become soft enough to break in your hopper, gun, or barrel.

Freezing conditions can do the same if your paint is sitting in the open. So you need to make sure you keep it safe.

Pro Tip: Keep it in an insulated container like a “water cooler” so it is not affected by the outer temperature. You can also use ice packs to keep it at a controlled temperature in heated climates.

Lying Around For Too Long

If your paintballs are sitting in the same position for a long time, the paint inside them is going to curdle or separate. As a result, the liquid from the paint is going to be seeped into the shell causing it to swell. 

To avoid this situation, you better keep turning your paint upside down and move it around a bit so it does not settle on one side.

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Signs That Your Paintballs Have Gone Bad

If any of the above circumstances have caused your paintball to go bad, or you are afraid if they are good anymore or not, here is how you can be sure of its quality.

How Long Do Paintballs Last


If your paint has got dimples and dents on its shell, it is bad news. Dimples are often caused by temperatures too cold. 

Sometimes the heat can also damage their shape. But whatever the reason be, your paintballs are not good anymore if they are not in a perfectly round shape. If you try to use them all the same, they are going to break inside your gun, thus causing more damage than benefit. 

Oblong or Flattened In Shape

If your paintballs are no longer round as they should be, chances are the severe temperature or sitting for too long has got the good of them. 

Brittle in Texture

You can check the quality of your paintballs by feeling their texture. If they feel too hard and brittle from the outside, they are no longer good to use. You may even look for cracking on their surface. This can happen if you stored your paintballs in too dry an environment. 

This kind of paintball is either too fragile and can break in your gun, or too hard that does not break easily on impact. You do not want to use them either way. 

Pro Tip: In case you are wondering if your paintballs are good any longer or have gone bad, here is a trick to check them. Take a paintball in your hand and drop it to the ground with a little force. If it drops with impact your paintballs are good to go. If they don’t, it is time to discard them.

How Long Do Paintballs Last in Optimal Conditions?

Considering the fact that paintballs are biodegradable, you cannot expect them to last forever even if kept in optimal conditions. On an average, paintballs have a shelf life of only four months. Manufacturers mention the expiry date on the packet and some paintballs have as short a life as three months. 

But you can increase the life of your paintballs by storing them in optimal conditions. If you take care of temperatures and keep them in air-tight containers with occasional turning around, you can keep them fresh for as long as a year or even more. 

Do Paintballs Expire And How To Store Them

Toxic Paintballs

Do remember that all paintballs are not the same. Although they are rare, some manufacturers are making toxic paintballs which were common in older days. They are not biodegradable and can last quite a long. You may hear some people talking about using paintballs as old as ten years. 

Pro Tip: Do not fall for the bait of longevity, health comes above cost.

In addition to these, there are paintballs available that are not water soluble, but oil based. You better avoid buying them because they are not easily rinsed off from the surfaces they explode on. Moreover, in case one of the rounds breaks inside your paintball gun, it is not going to be good for your gun. 

Can You Use Expired/ Old Paintballs?

This question may arise in your mind as to what problem your expired paintballs can cause. You may think that if it is okay to feed those expired paintballs to your gun as it cannot fall sick by any chance. 

Let us tell you, your gun may not fall sick in the proper sense of the word but it will get damaged in one way or the other & can face multiple problems. Here are a few common problems that can arise if you try to use expired or bad paintballs.

  • If the shell of your paintball is damaged, the chances are extreme temperatures have got the better of them. They can hardly come out of your gun without breaking inside the hopper, gun, or barrel. And you certainly do not want that to happen in the middle of a game.
  • If your paintballs are no longer in a spherical shape, they are not going to perform well. They are made spherical for a good reason. A flattened or oval shape is not going to reach its target, not to speak about the damage it can cause to your gun.
  • A paintball that has become brittle or too hard from the outside can crack inside your gun. Or it may have become too hard and will not break on impact. Both ways, it is bound to ruin your game.
  • A brittle paintball puts other players at risk too. It can hurt its target much more than a good paintball does, resulting in serious injuries.
How Long Are Paintballs Good For

So, in case you have a damaged pack of paintballs with you, it is better to discard them and accept the mishap as a lesson of life, just like I did some years back. Because trying to use them will cause more damage than good.

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What To Do With Old Paintballs?

In case you have a bag of rotten paintballs, it is not a good idea to throw them around because although degradable, they take quite a long time to decompose completely. 

You can use these paintballs to play with kids in your garden if you want to have fun. Just make sure not to put them in your guns or hoppers or you will surely regret it.

But if you do not have any plans to play any such game, you can put them in a water filled container and wait until they are completely dissolved. Then you can simply discard the water and get rid of everything in an environment friendly way.

Final Words

It is a good decision to buy paintballs in bulk because this way they will cost you less than the retail price, but do not go extravagant with your purchase. If you fail to keep the pallets in optimal condition, you won’t save money, instead, it will be wasted. It is best to buy just as many as you are going to use in the next 3 to 4 months. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do paintballs expire?

Yes, paintballs are biodegradable and they expire after some time. Paintballs have a shelf life of 3 to 6 months, depending on the quality and also on the way you have stored them. 

Are paintballs food grade?

The main ingredients of paintballs are gelatin and glycerin, which means they are food-grade. Obviously, it does not mean that you can just as well eat them, but they are not toxic and harmful to your health.

Can I store my paintballs in the freezer?

Do not ever make the mistake of freezing your paintballs. Freezing causes the paintballs to become brittle that cannot be used in a game. And after coming back to room temperature, they are most likely curdled and separated. Still not good to be put in your gun, thus useless.

Why my paintballs are looking oblong?

If your paintballs are oblong or any other shape than spherical, they surely have expired. Time to buy a new packet and take care of it in a better way. Humidity and extreme temperatures are the worst enemies of your paintballs. Keep them safe.

About The Author

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David Wilson - Your Trusted Paintball Expert

David Wilson is your dedicated paintball guru with over a decade of experience in the thrilling world of paintball. As a seasoned player, tournament enthusiast, and certified Paintball Safe Game Instructor, he's committed to sharing expert insights, unbiased reviews, and valuable strategies to elevate your paintball game.

With a passion for safety and a mission to empower paintballers of all levels, David brings authority and experience to every article, ensuring you make informed choices and enjoy a secure and thrilling paintball experience. Join him on the journey to enhance your skills and embrace the camaraderie of the paintball community. Read More About David!

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