How to Salt Water test your Dice

How to Salt Water test your Dice

No matter if you love combat or role play, homebrew or published adventure, or use RAW or "rule of cool" we all have one thing in common. We rely on our dice. The one thing that can massively effect your experience at the table in bad dice rolls.

Seriously. There’s nothing worse than being unable to get an ability score above a 12 or never rolling higher than a 4 on an attack. When you’re getting terrible rolls, the game can lose a lot of its joy (particularly for kids or first timers). So, have you offended the spirit of Gary Gygax? Is it you’re your bad aura? Do dice hate you? Probably not.

But…it might be time to change your dice. I know that you love your dice, even if they treat you bad, but it’s time for them to go and I’m about to show you why.

Dice aren’t really “good” or “bad.” Rather, they’re balanced or unbalanced. This means that they can have internal flaws that are messing you up. How can you tell?

A saltwater balancing test.

What is a saltwater balancing test? It’s exactly what it sounds like—dropping dice in saltwater and seeing what happens. Golfers have been doing them for years to check for imperfections and weird spin in their golf balls, and if they can do it, we can too.  This test reveals unseen imperfections, inclusions, or air bubbles inside a die. Here’s how to do it.

1) Fill a narrow cup or small mason jar with 1/3 of a cup of hot water.

Salt water Balance Testing Dice

2) Slowly add 6 tablespoons (yes, tablespoons) to the water. Make sure to vigorously stir the salt in while you pour.

Salt Water Balance Testing Dice

3) Your goal is supersaturation. You’ve achieved it once you can’t get any more salt to dissolve.

Salt Water Balance Testing Dice

4) Place your die into the mixture. It should float fairly close to the surface on the saltwater. If it sinks, stir more salt in and try again.

Salt Water Balance Testing Dice

5) With a finger, chopstick, or pencil flick the die so it spins freely. After it comes to a rest, note the number and flick it again. Do this a few times for a d6, d12 and especially a d20.

Salt Water Balance Testing Dice


Salt Water Balance Testing Dice


A die should show a different number on top almost every time. If the same number or two are consistently showing on the top of the die, you have found the imperfections and you know you have a bad die.

This test has some limits. It won’t work with metal or other extra-heavy dice. It also can’t detect external imperfections like slight warping in die faces.

I’ve been selling dice for a while and I’ve noticed that clear or translucent dice are more likely to be balanced. There are 2 reasons for this. 1. It’s easy to see if the die is well-formed internally by looking, so dice manufacturers are more careful with clear products. 2. Clear dice are made from one material all the way through, while solid dice can be filled with a variety of materials which can affect the balance.

Don’t wait!  You owe it to yourself and your table to check your dice. Stop being the one who can't roll above a 4 and become a productive member of the party again.

P.S. Dice off balance? Need new dice, but not sure where to buy and not ready to pay high dollars? Check out my True Roll Dice. They are always translucent and I’ve literally seen them change the course of a game.

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Not_a_mind_flayer asked on June 09, 2019:

“Will his tarnish metal dice?”

Depends on the metal, and it’s not tarnish, but but salt does make many metals oxidize more quickly.
But you can’t float metal dice in saltwater anyway. You could float lighter metals on mercury, but since that’s neurotoxic, you do not want to risk coming into contact with that. The manufacturing process of making metal dice ensures that there are no air bubbles or voids.

Die Hard

A while back I built a die rolling machine and profiled some of my dice. I tested a couple with the salt water float, and was surprised to find that they don’t actually seem to float with one side preferentially up (or one axis vertical). More details at . So I guess this test may uncover unbalanced dice, but there can be unfair dice that still appear fair when floating.

Mark Fickett

Will his tarnish metal dice?


True Dice need a smoke grey or translucent black!
As a DM,
I like to have a set of die that I only use for my bad guys. So of course they have to look “evil” when I roll them.
Ex: I’ve got a heavy, metal 40mm black die I use for the dramatic rolls!!


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