Use Booster, Speed Glue, Tuner in Table Tennis

Use Booster, Speed Glue, Tuner in Table Tennis

Welcome to the Ping Sunday table tennis blog of EmRatThich: a place to learn table tennis correctly and with fun. I’m a table tennis coach in a small club in France. During my spare time in the weekend, I create videos to share with you my own experiences about table tennis. That’s why these videos are called as “Ping Sunday” (Ping Pong Tutorial on Sunday).

Today, I talk about using the booster, speed glue, tuner in table tennis. Boosting rubbers, especially forChinese table tennis rubbers are very common. Not only professional table tennis players, but also amateurs boost or tune their rubbers.

What is Speed Glue?

You may hear of “Speed Glue”.  Speed glue is the glue that is used to fix the rubber to the racket. But it’s not the normal glue. Speed glue contains a lot of VOC (Volatile organic compound). It’s a mixture of 40% Cyclohexane, 50% Acetate Butyl, and 6% natural rubber. It may also have the benzene rings and N-hexane.

Why table tennis players use Speed Glue?

Speed glue contains high volatile solvent vapors which make the sponge of the rubber expand. This stretches the rubber giving it a “high tension”. It’s like adding the “trampoline”, make the rubber become more bouncy. The speed of the ball will increase about 10%. But the most important is the spin increase: up to 20%. The effect will last between 3-5 hours. Then it would wear off and the extra speed would be lost because the VOC gas has escaped away from the sponge.

Is using Speed Glue safe?

If you play table tennis before 2007-2008. You would remember that at tournaments hundreds of kids lining the corridors of the sports hall, “gluing up” their rackets and inhaling the fumes. The hall is full of smelly organic compounds. Everybody just wants to get the fastest racket in the world. Once you started, it was impossible to stop as if you didn’t do it your racket would feel incredibly slow.

ITTF decided to ban Speed Glue in September 2007 due to health concerns. The date had been moved back to 1 September 2008. However, after an unconfirmed health incident in Japan, ITTF banned immediately using Speed Glue in 2007.

ITTF is right. This is the composition of the VOC compounds in Speed Glue: cyclohexane, n-hexane, benzene, toluene. Do you know what does it mean, this pictogram? It’s is Carcinogen pictogram.

Benzene (and Toluene) in the Table Tennis Speed Glue cause cancer!
Benzene (and Toluene) in the Table Tennis Speed Glue cause cancer!
Toluene is highly toxic
Toluene is highly toxic

They not only contain hazardous vapors, but also

GHS08: Health hazard: Carcinogenicity
Pictogram “Health hazard” of the substance in the Speed Glue: Carcinogenicity
  • Carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue)
  • Mutagenicity (cause mutations (genetic alterations)
  • Reproductive toxicity (effects on sexual function)
  • Target Organ Toxicity

Don’t inhale the vapors from the Speed Glue, because it is aspiration hazard, and organ toxicity.

What is table tennis booster?

Since Speed Glue is banned completely. ITTF apply the ENEZ chamber test box to detect the small amount of VOC released from the player’s racket. Table tennis players always want to boost, to tune their racket to have a better effect. Some players tried baby oil, paraffin oil, olive oil and synthetic motor oil, but it didn’t work great. And then, here comes the booster.

ENEZ device is the device has been designed for the time after the ban of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by the ITTF has become effective to test rackets in tournaments whether they have been prepared with VOCs systematically.

It’s called as “booster”, “optimizers”, “expanders” or “tuners”, appeared at the end of 2007. These products applied to the sponge of the rubber to increase its thickness and give more speed and rotation to the ball, not as much as the “Speed Glue” but not far. Booster contains low volatile compounds mixed with some chemical oils. The booster is more viscous and absorbs slowly into the rubber sponge. Therefore, the “boosting effect” of the booster will last up to 3-4 weeks.

Before 2005, Chinese National Team (Wang Liqin, Kong Linghui, and others) used TSP Noriko as the speed glue. However, since speed glue is banned, they are using Booster now. The 3 most popular in table tennis are (considered as the best table tennis boosters): Haifu booster, Dianchi Booster, and Falco Tempo Long Booster.

haifu booster
haifu seamon booster
dianchi table tennis booster
dianchi table tennis booster

You can buy the Falco Tempo Long Booster on eBay (about US $13), Dianchi booster is expensive (£51 for 250mL, shipped from Hongkong) and Haifu Seamon Booster (about $25).

Booster is legal or not?

Using booster, tuners, expanders and speed glue in illegal in table tennis.

ITTF had stated:

Rule 2.4.7: The covering material should be used as it has been authorised by the ITTF without any physical, chemical or other treatment, changing or modifying playing properties, friction, outlook, colour, structure, surface, etc. 

Based on the rule, using booster will modify the playing properties of the rubbers. So you are not allowed to use the booster, chemical treatment in the official competitions.

However, using a factory tuned rubber is allowed by ITTF. That means you can’t boost the table tennis rubber yourself, but you can buy a pre-tuned factory rubber. So if you have your own factory or your own rubber brand, you can use the so-called “pre-tuned” or “factory tuned” rubber. That’s why nowadays, there are many Factory Tuned or Neo version of Double Happiness DHS rubbers.

If you are the professional players and is sponsored by a table tennis company. You can ask them to boost and tune the rubber to your desired level. So until now, there are some tricks about using the booster in table tennis. The borderline of legal or illegal is not very clear.

Is Using table tennis booster detectable?

Booster contains the extremely low evaporation oil. The VOC rate is very low compared to the ITTF detection limit (5ppm). So until now, using the booster is not detectable.

To prepare for the Olympic Tokyo 2020, the Japanese Table Tennis Association (JTTA) is working with the Olympics Committee to develop the new protocol to control the racket. This action is to fight the using of the booster of Chinese table tennis players. Everyone knows that Top Chinese players use the booster, but it’s not detectable. Amateur levels who play Chinese table tennis rubbers also use boosters. Since the using table tennis boosters are not detectable by the instruments used by the ITTF, there is no risk of being disqualified.

For me, I can easily know if a player boosts his rubber or not. Using booster or speed glue will make the sponge expanded. When you hit the ball, the sound is much louder, and the sound is like “bap, bap” (high pitch noise). So using the booster is detectable by human experiences.

Why Chinese players use the booster?

During the China Trials for WTTC 2011, Ma Lin is caught using the booster in his hotel room in the CCTV5 reportage.

ma lin boosting national Hurricane 3 with Haifu booster
Ma Lin is boosting his rubber with Haifu booster

There is also the footage shows that Wang Liqin, Fan Zhendong was using the Racket control tester of ITTF. They want to make sure that their tuned Chinese table tennis rubber will pass the test.

Wang Liqin personal racket checked with the VOC chamber test box
Wang Liqin’s personal racket checked with the VOC detector box of ITTF

Booster has a very low VOC rate. You just only need to air your racket several hours after applying the booster. Then check your racket with the VOC detector box to verify again.

Chinese table tennis rubber has a dense and very hard sponge. Hard sponge ensures that the power from the stroke is completely transferred to the ball. However, a very hard sponge is not easy to play. Chinese rubber needs to be “break in” before using in the competition. “Break in” is to make the sponge a little softer, less deadly, more elastic. And the best way to “break in” is using the booster. The booster will expand the sponge, inject the “artificial tensor” to the hard sponge. The sponge is now more elastic, 3-4 degree softer. There are many advantages: the sound is louder, higher speed, and higher spin. In conclusion, Chinese table tennis rubber is not very effective without using boosters. That’s the reason why Chinese table tennis players, not only professional level but also amateur level, use the booster to tune their Chinese rubbers.

Table Tennis Booster: YES or NO?

Watch this video.

How Chinese players use the table tennis booster?

Using table tennis booster to expand the sponge of the rubber is easy. In general, there are several steps to apply, to use the booster, tuners:

  • Before gluing, apply 1 to 2 layer of the booster to the sponge only. The booster will absorb slower to the sponge of the rubber. However, the boosting effect lasts longer than the speed glue. Wait for the booster absorb into the sponge for 6-10 hours. The sponge will expand because of the chemical substance, so it will make a dome. This is normal. This is the way you introduce the artificial “tension” to the sponge.
  • Don’t apply more than 3 layers. If you apply too much booster, your rubber will curve too much and it’s very difficult to glue the rubber now. The sponge is also too mushy. You will lose the power to your shots.
  • The booster will make the sponge softer to 3-4 degree. That’s why Chinese player always wants to buy the harder version rubber, to use with the booster. If you can hit very hard, and want to play with 39-degree Chinese hardness on your Forehand. Buy 41-42 degree.
  • Chinese players also prefer a thinner version. They prefer 2.10mm to 2.15mm than the 2.2mm and 2.3 mm (MAX). Because thinner sponge offers more consistent shots, and thinner sponge also expands easier with the booster.

Is using booster harmful?

Unlike the speed glue which contains VOC, booster contains mostly oil and is nearly VOC free. Some peoples claim that booster is not harmful. However, when I open the bottle of Falco Long Booster, I can feel the sweet smell of the oil. I said to myself “Oh, shit!” and quickly took a mask. The sweet smell from the booster is very close to the smell of synthesized petrol oil that I’ve known.

Please note: Natural oil like olive oil, colza oil is harmless. But chemical oil derived from petrol is toxic.

Chemical Glue has Carcinogen pictogram
Chemical Glue has Carcinogen pictogram

The composition of the booster:

  • Tridecane C13H28: alkane hydrocarbon, Colourless liquid, Odor gasoline-like, combustible liquids, used in various fuels and solvents in industry.
  • As in the petroleum industry, the oil will contain additives and derivatives. In the booster, there is also another hydrocarbon (C10 – C14),  Tetradecane, Decane and Cyclohexane (the same component in speed glue), and Trichloroacetic.
  • Trichloroacetic acid is considered a poison. May be fatal if absorbed. Very corrosive – causes severe burns.
  • Dodecane is considered a harmful component. It can cause damage to the lungs if absorbed.
  • Cyclohexane can cause cancer.
n-hexane is found in Booster
n-hexane is found in Booster
Cyclohexane in booster can cause cancer
Cyclohexane in booster can cause cancer

So even table tennis booster is nearly VOC free, but still very harmful for your health. In industry or in the chemical laboratory, they manipulate this product with the mask and the gloves. But you, table tennis player, use your hand with the brush, apply these boosters to your rubbers every 3 months. You also let it dry in your living room during 24h, and inhale these “sweet smell”.

Should I tune, boost my rubbers in table tennis?

My advice for you to use or not to use table tennis booster. What is the purpose of your table tennis?

If you play table tennis to earn your life like the professional players, you have no choice. A little disadvantage can alter the result of the match. You can feel less confident. It’s like “If you can’t beat them, join them”.

If you play table tennis to be healthy, for fun. Stay away from the booster. You don’t play for money. You get more risk from the hazardous effect than the reward of using the booster.

Remember: You need to distinguish these 2 pictograms. The first one is “Skull and Crossbones = Toxic”. Like being exposed to acid, the effect can be seen right after. You know it and can treat it soon. But the second one is “Health Hazard = Carcinogen”. The effect is not easily discovered after exposure. But 10 years, or even 20 years later, it causes the cancer. But it’s too late to cure.

Listen to me. If you are the amateur players, play safe with your own health. Don’t use the booster. If you play Chinese rubbers, use the “physical approach” to break in the sponge. Glue it correctly, hit very hard during 2 weeks, and then you can have an optimal hardness range that you want.

That’s it for this Ping Sunday. It’s 1:00 a.m morning in France.

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Bests, coach EmRatThich.

15 thoughts on “Use Booster, Speed Glue, Tuner in Table Tennis”

  1. How about water base glue (WBG), is it safe? and Should I use some wood coating before applying WBG to my blade?

    • yes, wbg is safe. To protect your blade, you should seal your blade, a thin layer to seal the surface.

  2. Wouldn’t it be easier for Chinese players to just use a tensor rubber rather than working so hard to boost a Chinese rubber? 😀

  3. xtreme revolution booster and falco life expander can be used as booster very safe and biodegradable ,xtreme has less than 4ppm voc (possibly vegetable oil) and falco life expander is very good on sponge and on top surface.effect on sponge for 4 weeks.
    xtreme costs around 30 us dollars and no residue and follow the instructions,easy to apply for amateurs up to professional and its not cancerous,only on the sponge both chinese and tensor
    Falco life expander is also less than 30 dollars ,can be used on top surface and on sponge,sponge effect is for one month and it doesnot have any voc at all,works on both tensors and chinese rubbers

    I used falco once on battle 2 with great effect but doesnot last long
    currently using xtreme booster on battle 2 and battle 1 with same effect as that of falco.
    currently using the falco on top surface once a week and the xtreme once before attaching the rubber to the blade.

  4. I agree with the coach a lot ,i have played with t05,rakza 7,dhs3 neo,sklyline 3 neo and rakza 7 soft but harder rubbers give more precision and ability to dictate speed and accuracy which is not possible with tensors.Thats why mot pros who use tenergy use it on harder sponge and then boost it listen to the sound when dima hits it its boosted t05.Hard chinese rubbers work great
    on blades which are flexible as they add to force of the shot and increase the speed.

    I started playing after 12yrs with mark 5 on yasaka balsa plus then went with yeo power 7 with tenergy 05 fh and 05fx on bh,then moved to dhs 3 neo on fh and skyline 3 neo on bh,
    I liked battle 2 a lot and battle 1 a lot.I have 2 set ups
    yasaka Ma lin soft with 729 08 on fh and battle 1 on bh(my favourite one as i can play all strokes on both bh and fh easily)
    YEO power 7 with battle 2 on fh and rakza 7 on bh (plan is to move to it after another 6 months of training with the softer blade,once my rakza 7 wears out plan is to try battle 1 on bh)
    battle 1 and 2 cost around 20 dollars very high quality rubbers still had no issues with 5 sheets,currently on my 6th month with battle 2.Battle 2 is preboosted if i am not wrong after few months u can retune it with xtreme booster.

    • yes. harder rubber is more precise. and more linear. which is required in this modern table tennis.

  5. Tenergy 05 special rubber with a hard sponge is just a popular myph.

    Tenergy 05 still remains Tenergy 05. This rubber has been using the same orange Power Sponge 36 hardness degree, ever since the year 2008.
    Tamasu Butterfly is a manufacturer of honour and they never revamped Tenergy rubbers, never special edition of the rubber. Tamasu Butterfly does obey by the ITTF Rules invariably, and the DHS does not.
    Timo Boll told once in his personal blog
    — You can buy just the same Tenergy as mine in any shop worldwide.

    • Haha! So just ask Marcos Freitas. He showed his Ten05 rubbers, with are completely different with the commercial one ?
      Trust it or not! Pro players have the special contracts with suppliers. ?

  6. Pro Players get Pro Rubbers period end of discussion i have played professional cricket and i can throw a cricket ball almost size of a baseball close to 92 mph and my shoulder is freaky good and so are my legs although i have recovered from my right leg fracture around 50%.I play with 729 08 and battle 2 which have hardness close to 8/10 and i can manage it easily. Lately i tried chinese style of looping completely by taking the forehand way behind and it has worked for me great.Two
    players whom i couldnot defeat for last 8 to 9 months i have defeated them both once in 2 weeks.With chinese style of looping ball comes like a banana football kick with lot of force to block it u need a strong blade and u need to close the blade.Pro Players do the same shots like me but are more consistent ,have almost the same power in their shots and have better footwork
    and better eye coordination and feel in their game.If pro players are playing with the same sponge with that power all balls will go out of the table with soft sponge.ITTF rules account for
    the top surface and type of sponge not the hardness of sponge.If a pro player tells that then he i just advertising for that company.With respect to chinese rubbers DHS has different top layers and different sponges for the players.I played with DHS 3 neo skyline 3 neo they are not the same like hard sponges with boosting.U can 729 08 pretuned which plays excellent with the polyballs.

  7. Also i started plating with t05 and i dont have anything against it.Its a damn good rubber for backhand.Iget the same effect with battle 1 with 3 layers of xtreme booster so why waste dollars.Battle 2 is a replica of t05 with almost same size inverted pips with tackiness and hard rubber.Battle 1 is a replica of t05 with almost same size inverted pips with no tackiness and soft sponge(weird rose pink sponge which has inverted dome).Battle 2 and Battle 1 both have high throw angle so Battle 2 great for FH and Battle 1 for BH.
    Pro players also get customised blades .I was very impressed with rakza 7 for bh but less controllable but very grippy.I watch coach videos when i am exercising and it helps a lot

  8. With regards to boosting when u boost if its a tensor rubber dont use butterfly chack or any other water based specific tt company glue.Buy some tear mender which is completely voc free cheap and easily available as it can be easily removed from the tensor rubber sponge without any issues.16 OZ ie 480 ml will cost only 20 us dollars.Also for chinese rubbers use the tear mender it works great and holds the rubber perfectly.Dont forget the boosted rubbers need to be placed in a
    book press or rubber press for close to 12 hrs for perfect bonding or else the rubber comes out soon from the blade.Also if u boost wait for 7 days after booster application with falco long and 9 days with xtreme booster for great response.I personally threw falco long booster as it is not healthy and it is a precancerous chemical but falco life expander has no voc and doesnot smell u can use that but works for 3 to4 weeks only.
    Falco long increases the weight of rubber by 5 gm where as xtreme booster only by 2 gm and falco increases rubber thickness where as xtreme booster no increase in thickness at all.

  9. Hello,
    I am a player from Brazil and i would to share with you my experience. I play with T05 on my forhand without boost and I don´t like to buy my rubbers directly from a Butterfly store in Brazil because it’s different, softer sponge, less control and feeling. I know an amateur player that plays at an professional European club and have contact with pro players. This guy buy some rubber that the pro’s dislike just after 1 or 2 days of practicing and sell for me for a good price. This rubber is completely different. It has more control, feeling, speed spin and hardness but less durability.
    In my opinion the pro players rubbers are similar to tires of a car race that are made to be less durable but better for high speed race’s

  10. > The booster will make the sponge softer to 3-4 degree.
    In ESN or DHS scale?

    > Glue it correctly, hit very hard during 2 weeks, and then you can have an optimal hardness range that you want.

    How many hours of play it would be?

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