What Does Chalk Do in Pool? (Everything You Should Know)

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When you think chalk, you might be thinking playing on sidewalks like a school kid. This may be true, but today in this article, we’re talking about chalking a pool cue. 

Long story short, the purpose of chalk in a pool cue is to provide friction so that the cue doesn’t slide off the ball when you try to hit it. Keep on reading to learn everything there is to know about pool chalks!

The History of Chalk

Chalk has been around for a long time. Since the days of cave paintings, naturally formed chalk was used to draw on cave walls to depict images of things the caveman saw. 

Later, natural chalk began being used by artists to make sketches of things that were then coated and preserved.

More common stick chalk came later when it was found convenient to have chalk in a form that could be used repeatedly. Natural occurring chalk (calcium carbonate) was dyed with natural pigments and additives, rolled, and then dried to make chalk sticks similar to what we use today. 

While not as widely used as in the days of its origin, chalk is still used for a variety of tasks. 

Different colors are often used for different purposes. Yellow is still used on some chalkboards as a good contrast against the greenish background. The color is also determinate of the mixture used to make the chalk, like the blue used in pool cue chalk. 

What is Pool Chalk Made Of?

While pool chalk certain behaves like any other chalk, it is not the same as standard chalkboard or sidewalk chalk. Traditional chalk is made of dyed calcium carbonate that is rolled and added to preservatives to harden it and give it its texture and usage. 

Pool cue chalk is made by crushing silica and the abrasive substance corundum or aloxite into a fine powder. 

Other modern chalks use a variety of mixtures to give them different colors and consistencies thanks to the advent of different chemical processes. 

However, the standard silica-based blue chalk is still used for pool cues to this day for the friction it provides. 

What is the Purpose of Chalk in Pool?

Chalking a Pool Cue

The primary purpose of chalking a pool cue is to keep it from sliding off the cue ball resulting in a miscue. 

As you strike the ball with the end of your cue stick, it begins to become worn, and eventually, the end becomes completely smooth. By adding chalk to the end of your stick, you give the ball something rough to strike against. 

When you chalk the cue’s end and hit the ball, the ball meets the chalk first, and consequently, the stick doesn’t slide. This leads to solid contact between the cue and the ball and thus a more accurate shot. 

If you continue to strike the ball with a smooth cue, the cue tip will slide off the surface of the ball resulting in either an improper shot or no shot at all. 

For players using a long stick, the use of chalk is pretty much a must. With a shorter stick, you may be able to manage a decent shot with worn cue since the draw distance on your shot is shorter, and you can put more power behind each shot. 

With a long stick you have to draw back further, and it takes more power when you make contact with the ball to get a tricky shot off. A non-chalked longer stick is much more likely to slip and end up as a miscue. 

Chalking a pool cue has some side benefits that you are probably not aware of; although secondary, these could significantly impact the game.

1. Giving Time to Concentrate

Taking time to chalk a pool cue is all part of the game as well. When a player is chalking a pool cue before a shot, it gives them a chance to survey the table, examine the ball positions and think about their next shot. 

It may not seem like an overt benefit, but the game of pool is just as much strategy as it is game play.

2. Keeping Your Pool Stick Healthy

Taking raw shots with your favorite pool stick is going to do much more harm than it ever does good. Even should you manage to be halfway accurate and make shots, each time you strike the ball, you’re wearing down the end of your stick. This is what causes miscues in the first place.

Chalk on the end of a stick gives friction and a contact point for the ball and the stick. Not using chalk makes your stick take the brunt of the impact. Not only will your stick wear down, eventually, over repeated impacts can crack and break your stick tip. Once you’ve gone this far, you’ve basically ruined a good stick. 

3. The Competitive Advantage

At the end of the day, the real reason to chalk your cue and chalk it properly is to have a competitive advantage over other players. If you’re playing in the big leagues, then obviously all the other guys know what they’re doing to, and you have to keep up. 

However, for the average bar room game, knowing the secret to chalking your stick and chalking it correctly can be the difference between winning and losing a game. This is even more important when the stakes are high.

There are a number of different brands of chalk, and each brings different benefits to the table. Familiarizing yourself with the most common brands is a good way to up your game and find the one that works best for you. 

Choosing The Right Pool Chalk 

Since there are so many different types of chalk on the market, it’s best to familiarize yourself with what each one’s benefits and possible downsides are. Getting to know the ways that a chalk may assist you in a game can help you to find which one works best for you and possibly improve your game by quite a lot.

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Silver Cup Billiard Chalk

Silver Cup chalk is known for its clean application and resilience to flaking and cracking. For those that don’t want a lot of mess to clean up and want a good chalk every time, this is the one to go with. 

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Kamui Pool Cue Chalk

For a professional-grade chalk that guarantees a great shot every time, Kamui is the way to go. This brand is popular among the pros and is widely regarded as an excellent high-end chalk. 

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Predator Pool Cue Chalk

This chalk is highly rated for its consistency, even coverage, and wear time when on your cue. This is a perfect option for those that don’t know a lot about chalking a cue and still want to get good coverage and use out of their chalk.

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Balabushka Billiard Cue Chalk

For those that want a chalk that is cleaner and lasts much longer than standard chalks, Balabushka is the one you want. It goes on clean and lasts up to 5 times longer than standard chalk, requiring much less application than other chalks.

 

How To Properly Chalk A Pool Cue?

The first thing you need to know is when to chalk your pool cue in the first place. Most of the time, with standard chalks, you’ll chalk your pool cue before every shot. Some newer chalks claim to hold longer and only need to chalk your cue once every few shots or so. 

This is relative! You want to chalk your cue so that it is not bare against the ball. The standard practice, regardless of chalk type, is to chalk before every shot. 

To properly chalk your cue stick, hold it at a steady angle and apply the chalk evenly to the tip. Do not attempt to gouge the stick into the chalk. 

You are practically rubbing the cue’s tip on the chalk in a similar way in which a woman applies lipstick. Gently rub the chalk even across the tip on both sides until it is evenly covered. 

  • Do not chalk your pool cue over the table
  • Do not remove excess chalk or attempt to blow on the cue’s end; moisture causes chalk to stick
  • Place the cube of chalk face up and out of the way when finished 
  • Always apply chalk to an unprotected stick

Once your stick is properly chalked, you’re ready to take your shot. Be aware that excess chalk will wear off, so only put as much chalk as you need. 

Overapplying chalk and then trying to remove it can cause a mess and waste your precious chalk, so just use enough to cover the tip of your cue. It is a common courtesy to return shared chalk as well. 

Related: 12 Best Pool Cue Tips For The Money (Updated)

How Often Should You Chalk Your Cue? 

Like we stated above, you should be chalking your cue after every shot. Unless you’re using a chalk that doesn’t require you to chalk as often, such as some of the more premium modern chalks, chalking is always necessary between shots. 

If you’re wondering whether or not you can chalk too much, the answer is no. Professional players may chalk four or five times while lining up a shot. 

As long as you are not chalking over the table, there is no issue. If dust is a concern, you can tap the pool cue with your hand to knock off any excess dust onto the floor. 

Alternatives To Pool Cue Chalk 

Obviously, there may be times when you run out of pool chalk or simply don’t have any in the first place. Maybe your cube of chalk has gone dead due to exposure to moisture, or perhaps one of the other players decided to spear tip the chalk. 

Either way, in these cases, it’s important to find an alternative to chalk in order to keep your game going on point. 

1. Scuffing the Cue 

If you’re lacking any other options and need to do something to make your shot, scuffing the tip of your cue can work in a pinch. Players will often grab their car keys or a pocket knife and lightly scuff the cue’s edge to give it some abrasion when it makes contact with the ball. This will provide just enough friction to make your shot.

2. Plaster From a Nearby Wall

When you’re in a tough spot and simply don’t want to dry smack a ball, rubbing some plaster off a nearby wall or ceiling can do the trick. Plaster has enough of a dust-like consistency to serve the purpose of chalk so you can make your shot. Just don’t jam a hole in the wall!

3. Chalkboard Powder

If you happen to be playing the game in an old-timey classroom or just happen to have a chalkboard, the dust from a chalkboard can do the trick for chalking your stick. All you need is just enough dust to cover the end of your stick; you’re not looking to write an essay. 

4. Cigarette Ash

If you’re really out of options and just looking to have something to rub on your stick, cigarette ash reportedly works. Hopefully, you or one of your buddies is a smoker, and you can use the dust from the last time one was put out to chalk up your cue.

5. Talcum Powder 

Talcum powder is a decent alternative. Honestly, any coarse powder that doesn’t contain moisture will work in a chalk emergency. Just be sure not to use something like baby powders as they contain excessive moisture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pool Chalk Toxic? 

No, pool chalk is not toxic. In small amounts, it is completely harmless. In larger amounts, it can cause stomach discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhea. It is also nontoxic to dogs and cats and will likely not affect them unless eaten in large quantities. In the case of massive consumption, the animal may vomit or have diarrhea until the chalk passes. 

Why is Pool Chalk Blue? 

Pool chalk is blue because of the silica content, and when creating it was tinted blue to differentiate it from standard white chalk. The accepted felt color was then green and the chalk color blue. There are now many color varieties; however, blue is still the most widely used and accepted color. 

How to Remove Pool Chalk from Clothes?

Begin by dabbing the chalk-stained spot with water and either a sponge or rag of some kind. Once you remove the chalk, you can treat the affected area with a pretreating agent to prevent staining. If the chalk is on a fabric that is safe for bleach, you can apply bleach to the stain and dab with a sponge and water. 

Chalkdust will wipe away from many fabrics like denim, and the blue color is less likely to stain blue jeans. That being said, try to chalk your cue out away from yourself and the pool table to prevent staining your clothes or the felt. 

Final Words

There you have it, the reason why chalk is used in pool. Now you know how to chalk your cue correctly and how often, as well as many of the other important facts about pool chalk. We also included some good quality brands of chalk for every type of pool player so that the next time you chalk up, your game is on point.

Daniel Bouie - SportsDean
Daniel Bouie
Daniel Bouie has been playing and helping others learn the ins and outs of pool for eight years. His profound love for the game inspired him to become a qualified billiard instructor in 2015. He frequently practices in his spare time and teaches private lessons to novice and intermediate players.

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