Gamer Daniel Fisher used an old golf ball balancing trick to test the integrity of his D20 gaming dice. To set up the test, he mixed 6+ tablespoons of salt with 1/3 cup room temperature water in a small glass jar. By floating and spinning a die in the jar, he was able to see if it consistently rolled high, low, or was balanced.
Among other things, Fisher discovered that translucent dice tend to be more balanced, perhaps because you can easily see imperfections inside them (and wouldn’t buy or use them). Finding out that a number of his D20s regularly rolled low or high in the water, he cut into one to see what might be causing the imbalance. Inside, he found obvious manufacturing imperfections, chalky areas where the die may not have cured properly. Later in the video, he puts the cut die under a microscope to get a closer look inside.
I decided to try this out on my own dice. I had lots of D6s, some d10s and d12s, but sadly, no D20s in my dice bag. I had to put a lot more salt in my water to get any floatation at all. I ended up with about 50-50 water/salt in a small plastic carry-out container. Luckily, I had an ancient bag of canning salt taking up space in my pantry.
Lots of my dice, in all denominations, wouldn’t float, no matter how much salt I introduced. I finally ended up getting flotation on at least some dice of every size.
I made some interesting discoveries of my own. One of my D12s consistently rolled high in the water and seemed to do so outside of the water, too. I also found one of my D6s kept landing on a six in the water and mainly on 5s and 6s on the tabletop. Another cool discovery was that my most expensive D6s (with a high-gloss black lacquer finish, gold pips, and beveled edges), were very buoyant, consistently random, and they floated on their corners, not their faces. Not surprisingly, they make for very lively dice on the table.
I know of at least one other person who’s tried this test and couldn’t get his D20s to float, no matter how much salt he added. He may try again, using Epsom salt, to see if that provides more buoyancy.
Have you ever tried this trick on your dice collection? If you do try it, let us know the results in the comments below. Oh, and don’t forget to rinse off and dry your dice after you’re done testing them.
UPDATE: Gamer and maker Sam Brown tried this will Epsom salt and got all of his dice to float using this salt and water solution.