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What Are Pool Balls Made Of?

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Have you ever been playing pool and you wanted to know what a pool ball was made out of? Maybe someone sold you that they came from elephants, but that didn’t sound right. Well, in this article we will go over everything you need to know about pool balls and what they are made out of. 

So what are pool balls made of?

Pool balls can be made from various materials, but the most common is wood, Ivory, resin, or plastic. Today, most pool balls are made up of a resin material mixed with plastic. 

If you want to know more about pool balls and what they are made of, you will want to keep reading this article. You can also check out this video to see exactly what the inside of a pool ball looks like. 

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If you have a pool table then you need to get this accessory kit. It includes pool cues, extra pool balls, and all the gear you need to keep your pool table in tip-top shape.

If you are tired of your kids (or friends) ruining your good pool cue when they play then having these extra ones will keep that from happening (just be sure to hide your good one!).

What materials are used to make pool balls?

From the 17th century, manufacturers have used different materials in making pool balls. As the game became better, better ways of making the shots are being invented. Below are the materials used to make pool balls from the 17th century to this current decade. 

  • Wood

The first pool balls to be made were from wood. Wood was a readily available material and was reasonably easy to be constructed to the shape of a pool ball. These balls were light and didn’t offer excellent gameplay. They were also not very durable. The inception of colonization disrupted the use of wood to make pool balls. As the Europeans colonized Asia and Africa, they became in love with exotic materials from lands like Africa. One such element was Ivory from the tusks of an elephant. This material became very popular in the 17th century as it was also used to classify the wealth of the owner.

  • Ivory

Pool ball manufacturers found ivory to be more appealing than wood. The ivory pool balls were then invented. However, many pool game players did not appreciate this invention and claimed that the shots were not durable. They could yellow after months of use and also cracked when exposed to humid environments. In excess force, the balls could stick as well. 

Pool continued being popular with the use of Ivory pool balls. However, in the 1800s, the demand for elephant tusks outgrew the supply of Ivory. This increase threatened the population of elephants in both Asia and Africa.

In 1869, with the fame of pool increasing along with Ivory Coast, some two pool table makers, Collender and Phelan, did an extraordinary thing. They challenged their customers by laying down an offer of $10,000 to anybody who would invent a non-ivory pool ball. They were caught by surprise.

  • Parkesine

In 1860, the race of coming up with a non-ivory pool ball was on. A New York inventor, John Wesley Hyatt, made plastic from combining Sulphuric acid, nitric acid, and Cellulose. This nitro-cellular combination became a plastic that was referred to as Parkesine. Parkesine could easily be molded into balls. The inventor found an excellent and reliable substitute for ivory. The nitro-cellular plastic had a solid core and could quickly explode. Also, gaps emanated from the molecular structure of the material.

Plasticizer was therefore needed to fill these gaps and make the plastic non-cracking. Celluloid, which is the predecessor of the modern-day plastic, was alternatively used for this purpose. Even though Parkesine worked better than ivory, it was very flammable and could cause fatal accidents when produced. The explosive nature of Parkesine made it very risky for manufactures, and another option was to be sought.

  • Bakelite

Phelan Leo Baekeland, an American chemist, invented another plastic-like material in 1907. This material was called Bakelite. It was durable, easy to produce balls from, and did not have any explosive risk. In the 1920s, manufacturers began making pool balls from Bakelite. The material was used for quite a long time.

  • Phenolic Resins

In the recent decade, pool balls are made from plastic resins or acrylic. These materials have been in use for a long time, and below are the reasons for this.

  • Strength  

Phenolic Resins are very strong and do not break at all. According to the Phenolic Resin’s molecular structure, the material is compact with strong bonding. It ensures the ball does not crack even when under very high pressure.

  • Insensitive to temperatures

Phenolic Resin does not change its shape, whether in a harsh or cold environment. The material survives in any extreme heat of the world. It, therefore, means that wherever you are playing pool, your ball can never be deformed. Additionally, the material is insensitive to the atmosphere and does not react when in contact with the atmosphere. This is why Phenolic Resin pool balls never decay or lose its smoothness when not covered.

  • Ease in manufacturing

Phenolic Resin has a simple manufacturing process, and this property makes it easy to mold into almost any shape.

  • It has a uniform density 

Balls made from phenolic resin maintain its density from the outer surface to the inner parts. Balls that lack uniform density have diverse momentums on their circumferences. Since Phenolic Resins have a uniform mass, all shots can have similar momentum irrespective of the point of contact that the player has made.

  • Resistant

Balls from Phenolic Resins are smooth, which offers perfect angling. When in contact with the cloth on the pool table, the balls do not give uncalculated outcomes. They are fun and non-strenuous to play with.

  • Appealing

Phenolic Resins pool balls are beautiful. Pool is made to be a beautiful game thanks to the appearance of a set of clean and colorful pool balls on a cloth of slate. Looking at the balls on the table is just simply beautiful to look at. 

  • Easy to clean

Phenolic Resin pool balls are easy to clean. Once they are cleaned, they look shiny under the lights. They have a low cost of maintenance, and you only need to wipe them on the surface to remove dust or chalk.

What is the best pool ball set?

There are many options when it comes to buying a set of pool balls. You can get ones that are cheap, or ones that are expensive. The cheap ones will work, but after time will begin to fade as well as show wear and begin to chip. These cheap pool balls can be found here, and are great if you are just starting off. 

If you are looking for the best pool balls that there are, and that are going to last you a lifetime, then you will want to purchase a set like this. These pool balls will last you just as long as you’re slate table if not longer. They are free of maintenance and no matter how long you own them, they will never fade or discolor.


Now that you know that there are different types of pool balls, and different materials they are made with, you can see that the material used does matter in the game. The pool balls that were being made at the time were the best that they could make, but today, the pool balls that are made are far superior to the older pool balls. Even the cheapest pool balls of today will last longer and play far better than an Ivory set of balls. No matter what pool ball set you can afford, there are options available for you.