Unveiling the Secrets: What Are Pool Balls Made Of? The Ultimate Guide

When it comes to playing pool, most people don’t give much thought to the balls they’re playing with. However, the material composition of pool balls is actually quite important. The right material can greatly impact the precision and accuracy of your shots, while the wrong material can throw off your game entirely. So what are pool balls made of? All will be answered through this article

Throughout the history of billiards, people have experimented with a variety of materials to make pool balls. In the past, wooden balls and ivory billiard balls were common, but these materials were expensive and not always consistent in terms of size and weight. As technology advanced, so did the materials used to make pool balls. Today, most pool balls are made of a special type of plastic called phenolic resin or Bakelite.

The evolution of billiard ball materials is fascinating, and it’s interesting to see how far we’ve come from the days of wooden balls and ivory. The use of synthetic plastics like phenolic resin has allowed for greater precision, roundness, and density in pool balls. As a result, players can enjoy a more consistent playing experience, with balls that have a uniform weight and diameter tolerance.

The Evolution of Pool Ball Materials

As a pool player, I have always been curious about what pool balls are made of. The materials used to make pool balls have undergone a significant evolution over the years, from ivory to modern plastics. In this section, I will explore the history of pool ball materials and how they have changed over time.

From Ivory to Modern Plastics

Pool balls were originally made of ivory, which came from the tusks of elephants. However, due to concerns about conservation and animal welfare, the use of ivory in pool balls was phased out in the early 20th century. This led to the introduction of celluloid and other early plastics as a replacement for ivory. Although these materials were an improvement over ivory in terms of conservation, they had their own set of problems. For example, celluloid was highly flammable and prone to inconsistency in weight and balance.

The Rise of Phenolic Resin

In 1923, a company called Saluc began manufacturing pool balls using phenolic resin. Phenolic resin quickly became the industry standard for pool balls due to its durability, impact resistance, and consistency in weight and balance. Phenolic resin is also low friction and burn mark resistant, making it an ideal material for pool balls.

Today, most pool balls are made of phenolic resin, although there are other materials used as well, such as polyester and acrylic. The color of pool balls is also an important factor, with yellow and red being the most common colors for numbered balls. The cue ball is typically white, although it can be made in other colors as well.

What are Pool Balls Made Of?

There are currently three main materials used to make pool balls: phenolic resin, polyester resin, and epoxy resin. Phenolic resin balls are the most common and are widely used in professional settings due to their durability and consistency.

Phenolic Resin Composition

Phenolic resin is a thermosetting plastic made from a combination of phenol and formaldehyde. The chemical composition of phenolic resin includes a network of cross-linked polymer chains that give it its strength and durability.

The manufacturing process of phenolic resin balls involves mixing and curing the resin before molding and polishing it for uniform density and smoothness. This process ensures that the balls are perfectly round and have consistent weight and balance.

Other Synthetic Polymers

In addition to phenolic resin, there are other synthetic polymers used in less expensive pool ball sets, such as polyester and acrylic. While these materials are not as durable as phenolic resin, they are still widely used and offer good performance and durability.

Regulation Specifications

The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) dictates the official size and weight of pool balls. The standard size for a pool ball is 2.25 inches in diameter, and the standard weight is between 5.5 and 6 ounces. The material composition of the ball affects its compliance with these standards, as different materials have different densities and weights.

The Role of Material in Ball Performance

When it comes to pool balls, material plays a crucial role in determining the performance of the ball. The materials used in pool balls have evolved over the years, from ivory to Bakelite to modern-day synthetic materials like phenolic resin.

One of the most important factors in ball performance is impact resistance and longevity. The material of a pool ball affects its ability to withstand the wear and tear of regular use. Phenolic resin, for example, is known for its durability and resistance to chipping or cracking, making it a popular choice for modern pool balls.

Consistency in play is also an important consideration, and material density and balance play a key role in accurate shots. The weight and roundness of the ball are also important factors, as is the diameter tolerance and precision of the ball’s core. Pool balls with consistent weight and roundness will roll more accurately, and their material density can help reduce wear and tear on the table cloth.

Another important factor in ball performance is the response to spin and force. The elasticity of the ball’s material affects its reaction to spin and force, and this can impact the ball’s ability to hold spin or bounce off rails. The brilliance and surface polish of the ball can also impact its performance, affecting how well it rolls and how visible it is on the table.

Overall, the material of a pool ball plays a significant role in determining its performance and longevity. By choosing the right material, players can enjoy more accurate shots, reduced wear and tear on their equipment, and a more enjoyable playing experience.

Innovations in Pool Ball Materials

As the game of pool has evolved over the years, so have the materials used to make pool balls. In the early days of the game, pool balls were made from ivory, which was a scarce and expensive material. Today, pool balls are made from a variety of synthetic plastics, including phenolic resin, epoxy resin, and polyester resin.

One of the most significant innovations in pool ball materials came in the mid-20th century with the introduction of phenolic resin. This synthetic compound offered improved durability, consistency, and resistance to damage, making it an ideal material for pool balls. Phenolic resin pool balls quickly gained popularity, especially in professional tournaments, and are still widely used today.

In recent years, there has been research and development in new materials for pool balls. Potential use of advanced composites or ceramics is being considered, with performance, safety, and cost being the primary considerations. This research could lead to even more durable and consistent pool balls in the future.

Environmental considerations are also being taken into account in the billiards industry. Sustainable materials and manufacturing processes are being explored, and there is potential for recyclable or bio-based materials to be used in the production of pool balls.

In addition to the synthetic plastics used in pool balls today, exotic materials such as ivory, bone, and wood are still used in some parts of the world. However, due to the scarcity and expense of these materials, they are not commonly used in the production of pool balls.

What’s inside a pool ball?

As I mentioned earlier, pool balls are typically made from a type of plastic called phenolic resin. This material is known for its durability and resistance to chipping, cracking, and fading. But what exactly is inside a pool ball?

Well, phenolic resin pool balls are made by melting the resin and pouring it into a spherical mold that is roughly the size of a billiard ball. The mold is then set under extremely high pressure, which causes the resin to become very dense as it hardens. The resin cools and solidifies before the latex mold is removed, leaving behind a perfectly round and smooth ball.

It’s interesting to note that pool balls have been made from a variety of materials throughout history. In the 15th century, for example, they were made from wood. Ivory balls became popular in the 17th century, but were later replaced by synthetic plastics due to concerns over elephant poaching. Today, exotic materials like elephant tusks are no longer used to make pool balls.

In the 19th century, John Wesley Hyatt invented celluloid, a type of plastic that was used to make pool balls. However, these balls were highly flammable and had a tendency to explode during gameplay. In 1907, American chemist Phelan Leo Baekeland invented a new plastic-like substance called Bakelite. Unlike Hyatt’s pool balls, balls made of Bakelite were durable, easy to produce, and didn’t carry the risk of blowing up the game. By the mid-1920s, the majority of pool balls were being made out of Bakelite.

Today, pool balls are made from a variety of resins, including phenolic resin, polyester resin, and epoxy resin. Each type of resin has its own unique properties and benefits. Phenolic resin is known for its durability and is the most common material used for pool balls. Polyester resin is also durable and is often used for red balls in snooker. Epoxy resin is less common, but is sometimes used for cue balls.

In conclusion, the inside of a pool ball is made up of a solid, dense plastic material that is molded into a perfect sphere. While pool balls have been made from a variety of materials throughout history, today’s most common material is phenolic resin due to its durability and resistance to damage.

How to Choose the Right Pool Balls

When it comes to choosing the right pool balls, there are a few things to consider. The first and most important factor is the material of the balls. Pool balls can be made from different materials such as polyester resin, phenolic resin, and even ivory. Each material has its own unique properties that affect the ball’s performance and durability.

Understanding Material Quality

When assessing the quality of pool balls based on material properties, there are a few things to look for. First, the balls should be perfectly round and have a consistent weight. This ensures that the balls will roll smoothly and predictably on the table. Second, the material should be hard and durable to withstand the impact of the cue stick and other balls. Finally, the balls should have a uniform density to ensure consistent rebound and deflection.

Material Impact on Price Point

The material composition of pool balls also affects the price of the ball sets. Polyester resin balls are generally the most affordable, making them a good choice for beginners or casual players. Phenolic resin balls are more expensive but offer better performance and durability, making them a good choice for enthusiasts or serious players. Ivory balls are the most expensive and are rarely used today due to ethical concerns and regulations.

As a beginner, I recommend starting with a set of polyester resin balls. These balls are affordable and provide a good introduction to the game. As you progress and become more serious about the game, you may want to upgrade to phenolic resin balls for better performance and durability.

Discover other accessories for better pool ball games

While pool balls are the most essential part of the game, there are other accessories that can enhance your playing experience. Here are a few items you might want to consider:

Pool Cue

Your pool cue is your most important tool when playing pool. It’s essential to choose one that feels comfortable in your hand and is the right weight and length for your height and playing style. You can find cues made from a variety of materials, including wood, graphite, and fiberglass.


Chalk is another essential accessory for playing pool. It helps prevent miscues by adding friction between the cue tip and the ball. You can find chalk in a variety of colors, but blue is the most common.


The bridge is a tool used to support your cue when making a shot that is too far away to reach comfortably. It can be a simple plastic or metal bridge or a more elaborate one made from wood or other materials.


Pool gloves are becoming more popular among players. They help reduce friction between your hand and the cue, allowing for a smoother stroke. They also help protect your hand from the rough surface of the cue.

Pool Table Cover

A pool table cover is an essential accessory to protect your table from dust, spills, and other damage. You can find covers made from a variety of materials, including vinyl, leather, and felt.

Ball Rack

A ball rack is used to set up the balls at the beginning of a game. You can find racks made from wood, plastic, or metal.

Care and Maintenance of Pool Balls

As a pool player, I understand the importance of taking care of my pool balls to maintain optimal gameplay. Proper care and maintenance of pool balls not only enhance the accuracy and speed of your shots but also prolong the lifespan of your equipment. Here are some tips for maintaining the integrity of the material and recommended cleaning agents and techniques for different materials.

Cleaning and Maintenance Best Practices

The best way to clean pool balls is to use a soft cloth dampened with warm water. If the balls are particularly dirty, a mild detergent can be used. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals as they can damage the surface of the balls.

For phenolic resin pool balls, a ball cleaner and restorer can be used to remove stains and restore the shine. For polyester resin pool balls, a ball polisher machine can be used to remove dirt and grime.

To prevent material degradation, it is recommended to clean pool balls after every use. This will prevent dirt and grime from building up on the surface of the balls and ensure that they remain in good condition.

Storage and Usage

Proper storage of pool balls is essential to prevent material degradation. Pool balls should be stored in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to high temperatures and humidity can cause the balls to warp or crack.

When using pool balls, it is important to handle them with care. Dropping or banging the balls together can cause them to chip or crack. It is also important to use the correct cue ball for the game being played. Using the wrong cue ball can cause damage to the other balls and the pool table.


In a nutshell, let’s explore the fascinating world of billiard balls and their composition. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of what materials make up these essential spheres and how they have evolved over time. Moreover, you’ll gain insights into high-quality billiard balls and other accessories that can enhance your game, all by delving into the realm of billiard ball materials.

FAQs About Pool Balls

Why don’t pool balls break?

Pool balls don’t break because they are made of durable materials that are designed to withstand the impact of the cue ball. The materials used to make pool balls include phenolic resin, polyester resin, and other synthetic plastics that are known for their strength and durability. These materials are also milled to exacting standards to ensure that they are perfectly round and balanced, which helps to prevent them from cracking or breaking.

Are pool balls made of concrete?

No, pool balls are not made of concrete. Concrete is too heavy and brittle to be used as a material for pool balls. Instead, pool balls are made of materials like phenolic resin, polyester resin, and other synthetic plastics that are lightweight and strong.

Why are pool balls expensive?

Pool balls can be expensive because they are made of high-quality materials that are designed to last a long time. Phenolic resin and polyester resin pool balls, for example, are known for their durability and consistency, which makes them a popular choice among serious pool players. Additionally, the process of manufacturing pool balls is complex and requires a high level of precision, which can drive up the cost of production.

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