Are Gel Blasters Bad For The Environment?

Gel blasters, also known as hydro blasters, have risen in popularity as recreational toys that simulate the experience of paintballing without the associated mess. These devices shoot water-absorbent polymer beads, which are often marketed as biodegradable. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of their environmental footprint, leading many to question the true impact of these gel beads on the environment.

When assessing whether gel blasters are environmentally friendly, one must consider the composition and biodegradability of the gel beads, as well as the manufacturing and disposal processes involved.

What are Gel blasters?

Gel blasters are toy firearms that fire small, water-based gel balls, commonly known as gellets or orbeez. Upon impact, these gellets burst and evaporate, leaving minimal residue. They are designed to mimic the appearance and functionality of a firearm to a certain level.

While they are not lethal, they make an impact and give the feel of a real firearm. These blasters operate through a spring-loaded or battery-powered mechanism, which propels the gellets at varying speeds.

Gel guns shoot gel balls instead of bullets or pellets using electronic motors, springs, or compressed air. These tiny marble-sized gel beads are harmless, making them quite safe for simulation or recreative use. Gel beads are water-absorbent, making them expand and become squishy when they come in contact with water.

Taking the initiative to make them resemble firearms as much as possible, makers of these toys make them in different types and designs. There are pistols, rifles, and even futuristic sci-fi designs to give an immersive feeling of using a real firearm.

Types of Gel Blasters

  1. Spring-Powered Gel Blasters: Operated by manually cocking the blaster between each shot. Simple in construction and ideal for beginners.
  2. Electric Gel Blasters: Utilize a rechargeable battery to automatically cycle and shoot gellets. They offer rapid firing and are popular among enthusiasts.

Components and Materials of Gel Blasters

Gel blasters have several components and materials. These components’ interrelation and working together enable the gel gun to function properly and perform its duties.

Understanding the gel blaster components and materials used in making them can be essential for comprehending the tool’s functionality, proper maintenance, handling, and potential for modification or customization.

Gel blaster manufacturers use plastic, metal, polymers, rubber, adhesives, lubricants, and batteries to make different equipment parts. We will continue to discuss the various components of the gel blaster and how they function.

Outer Shell

This consists of the shell and body of the gel blaster, which contributes to the overall structure and aesthetics of the tool. They are usually made of durable plastics.

Internal Mechanism

This is the main functional part of the gel gun. It consists of the firing mechanism, trigger assembly, and spring for the spring model. The electric model also contains the gearbox, motors, and gears.

Barrel or Muzzle

The barrel or muzzle is where the gel or ball is dispelled. They have a role in ensuring the accuracy of the fire.

Magazine or Hopper

Magazine and hoppers store the gels or balls for the equipment. This imitates forearms where the pistols have magazines and the riffles have hoppers.


The batteries are common in electronic-powered gel blasters. They store the power that the equipment needs to propel the gel ball. The electric-powered gel blaster contains rechargeable batteries.

Environmental Impact of Gel Blasters

Using a gel blaster seems harmless but negatively influences the environment.

From pollution to particle flying, many people can feel uncomfortable if a gel blaster is used around them. Also, its use can generate problems for the environment and people. Here are some potential hazards of gel blaster use:

Exposure and Allergies

Gel blaster particles fly, exposing everyone to them. Also, the wind can carry some of the particles around. This can be a problem if someone is allergic to the polymer used in making the gel ball or any other residue from shooting the gun.

Water Use

Water is an essential but limited resource, which has made environment conservationists focus on conserving water to prevent drought and ensure the availability of water as a vital resource. However, soak gel balls in water to hydrate them before use. This has raised brows as environment conservationists and advocates believe it is a gross waste of water.

Noise Pollution

Most gel blasters imitate guns and can be loud. The sound is a problem that can cause disturbance to people around. Noise pollution can cause restlessness, sleep disturbance, and worsen symptoms of hyperactiveness, among others.

Heat Generation

A gel blaster is a mechanical equipment that can generate heat due to friction or mechanical movement during firing. While this is minimal and may not cause any noticeable problems or external burns, it is not always so, as someone without a PPE can get problems from a malfunctioning gel gun generating more heat.

Post-Use Environmental Concerns

The impact of gel blasters on the environment does not end with their usage. The effects of usage can last for years, making it a major source of concern.

Gel blasters last long, having a lifespan of at least one year, and a high-quality one can last over five years. This means that gel blaster is rarely a waste that can be an environmental problem.

However, this is different for the gel balls. Each operation of a gel blaster can lead to the disposal of tens to hundreds of gel balls. This can be a problem to dispose of, and even the question of the total removal of the residue remains. Therefore, we will discuss some challenges a gel blaster and its components can pose to the environment.


Gel blasters are made from different materials, some of which are not biodegradable. This can become a problem when it is time to dispose of them. Although it is not an everyday occurrence, many gel blasters still get disposed of at the end of the day.

Using the data available on market value and the unit price to calculate, we can roughly estimate that an average of 60 million gel blasters are sold every year. This means people may dispose of between 30 to 40 million gel blasters yearly. Disposing that much non-biodegradable waste can be a problem eventually.

Also, gel balls decompose at different rates in different environments, even though they are made from biodegradable polymers.


Another problem that can happen with using and disposing of gel blasters and their components is the residue they leave. Even when a gel ball decomposes, residue particles can become more pronounced over time and likely cause problems. Also, the blaster’s batteries have chemical components that can leach into the environment, causing pollution and other problems.

Water Disposal

Another problem that can come from using water for gel pellets is that not many people have an idea of how to dispose of the water. Many people forget that the water that soaks a gel ball has come in contact with chemicals from the ball, making it unsafe. Disposing of this water wrongly can cause a problem for groundwater and traditional water bodies.

Comparative Analysis with Similar Toys

When evaluating the environmental footprint of gel blasters, it’s insightful to compare them to similar toys used in recreational sports.

  • Paintball: Uses gelatin-based balls, which are also biodegradable but can contain oils that may affect soil and water.
  • Waste Generation: Paintball often results in more litter due to non-biodegradable parts of the pellets.
  • Airsoft: Plastic pellets used in airsoft are not biodegradable and contribute to plastic pollution.

Table comparing Gel Blasters with Paintball and Airsoft in terms of environmental impact:

AspectGel BlastersPaintballAirsoft
AmmunitionBiodegradable SAP pelletsBiodegradable with potential oil pollutionNon-biodegradable plastic pellets
Energy ConsumptionModerate (battery charging)Low to ModerateLow to Moderate
EmissionsLow to ModerateLow to ModerateLow to Moderate

Chemical Composition

The environmental impact of gel blasters is partially determined by the materials and chemicals used in their gel pellets.

Materials Used in Gel Pellet Production

Gel pellets, commonly known as water beads, comprise super-absorbent polymer (SAP) materials. They are made up as follows:

  • Polyacrylate: A type of polymer commonly found in baby diapers and agriculture.
  • Water: When soaked, the pellets expand to many times their original size.

Potential Toxins and Chemicals

While SAPs are considered non-toxic, they may still harbor potential environmental risks. Specifics include:

  • Acrylamide: A chemical sometimes present in trace amounts during the production of polyacrylate.
  • Additives: Colorants and other chemicals could be added for aesthetic purposes or functionality. These additives can vary widely in terms of environmental safety.

Waste and Pollution

When considering the environmental impact of gel blasters, it’s crucial to examine the waste and pollution they generate, specifically from the disposal of the blasters and pellets, the waste from packaging and manufacturing, and the potential risks they pose to land and water environments.

Disposal of Gel Blasters and Pellets

Gel blasters and their pellets raise concerns once they end their useful life. Typically fabricated from plastic and electronic components, gel blasters require thoughtful disposal to avoid adding to landfill volumes. Pellets, made from super-absorbent polymer, can be biodegradable, but their disposal must be managed to prevent them from expanding in waterways or becoming ingested by wildlife.

Packaging and Manufacturing Waste

The production and distribution of gel blasters generate a variety of waste materials. These can include:

  • Plastic casings
  • Electronic circuitry
  • Paper and plastic used for packaging

Manufacturers implementing recycling programs can help mitigate this waste, but not all companies have such measures.

Land and Water Pollution Risks

The use of gel blasters contributes to land and water pollution in the following ways:

  • Pellets: If not cleaned up, pellets can swell and degrade into microplastics, polluting both land and water ecosystems.
  • Broken parts: Discarded blaster parts can introduce plastics and metals into the environment.

Responsible use and cleanup are essential to minimizing these risks.

Regulations and Industry Standards

Gel blasters, while enjoyed as recreational items, fall under regulations to mitigate environmental impacts. These regulations and industry standards are critical in balancing enjoyment and environmental responsibility.

Environmental Protection Policies

Policies governing gel blasters are designed to minimize their ecological footprint. For instance:

  • The EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive limits the use of certain hazardous materials in producing electronic equipment, including components found in gel blasters.
  • Biodegradable Gel Pellets: Some countries mandate using biodegradable pellets to reduce pollution and soil impact.

Industry Compliance and Certifications

Manufacturers must adhere to various compliances and earn certifications to ensure their products meet environmental standards. Key points include:

  • ISO 14001: This international standard provides a framework for effective environmental management systems (EMS) that manufacturers should comply with.
  • Certifications: Look for certifications such as the CE mark in Europe, which indicates a product’s compliance with environmental directives.

Consumer Responsibility

Consumers play a pivotal role in reducing the environmental impact of gel blasters by practicing responsible usage and exploring eco-friendly alternatives.

Proper Usage and Disposal

Consumers should handle gel blasters and ammunition carefully to prevent unintended environmental consequences. Proper usage includes playing in suitable areas where biodegradable gel balls are less likely to affect wildlife or water sources adversely. When disposing of a gel blaster or spent gel balls, they should refer to local waste management guidelines to determine if special disposal methods are required.

Participating in community cleanup events after large matches or events is also a great way for users to minimize their environmental footprint.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives

Seeking out eco-friendly alternatives can significantly lessen the environmental impact of gel blaster activities. Consumers can look for:

  • Biodegradable gel balls: Ensure the product degrades within a reasonable timeframe and does not contain harmful chemicals.
  • Solar-powered or rechargeable batteries: For electric gel blasters, using renewable energy sources can reduce the carbon footprint.

Moreover, manufacturers are now offering green innovations in gel blaster technology, and consumers should aim to support brands that prioritize sustainability.


How far do gel blasters shoot?

The range of a gel blaster can vary depending on its type, model, and modifications. However, an average gel blaster can shoot 20 to 30 meters. Some advanced or customized models can shoot more than that.

Do gel blasters hurt?

The impact of a gel blaster can be slightly uncomfortable. For instance, it can have a minor sting or burn. However, this impact is not so hurtful or overwhelming and will easily fade away in a few minutes. Wearing protective gear like face masks or goggles can help reduce the impact and prevent potential injuries.

Are gel blasters legal?

Yes, gel blasters are considered toys and perfectly legal in many places. However, this is not true everywhere, as some other places consider it a firearm, leading to the prohibition or regulation in those places. Therefore, you must research the local regulations of your area regarding gel blasters before purchasing or using them.


Gel blasters are becoming increasingly popular because of the advantages they offer over their alternatives, like paintball guns. As gel guns gain more popularity for their advantages on one forth, environmentalists raise more concerns about their disposal and water use.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.