What Are Billiard Balls Made Of? The Surprising Truth Revealed!

What are Billiard balls made of? When it comes to the game of billiards, the quality and composition of the billiard balls play a crucial role in the overall experience. In this article, we will delve into the composition of billiard balls, the historical materials used, the modern manufacturing process, and the regulations and standards that govern their production.

Composition of Billiard Balls

Composition of Billiard Balls

Phenolic Resin

Phenolic resin is one of the most common materials used in the production of billiard balls. It is a type of thermosetting plastic that is known for its durability and resistance to impact. This makes phenolic resin billiard balls highly resilient and long-lasting, ensuring consistent performance over time.


Polyester billiard balls are another popular choice among players. They are known for their vibrant colors and smooth finish, making them visually appealing. Polyester balls also offer excellent durability and are resistant to chipping and cracking, making them a reliable option for avid billiards enthusiasts.


Ivorine is a synthetic material that is designed to replicate the look and feel of ivory. While traditional ivory billiard balls are no longer in use due to conservation efforts, ivorine provides a suitable alternative. It offers a smooth surface and consistent weight, making it a preferred choice for players who appreciate the classic aesthetic of ivory.

Historical Materials Used for Billiard Balls

Historical Materials Used for Billiard Balls


Historically, billiard balls were made from ivory, specifically the tusks of elephants. Ivory billiard balls were prized for their exceptional smoothness and density, which contributed to their superior performance on the table. However, due to the ethical and environmental concerns surrounding the use of ivory, its production has been discontinued.


In the early days of billiards, wooden balls were commonly used. While they lacked the resilience and consistency of modern materials, they were readily available and served as the foundation for the evolution of billiard ball production.


Clay billiard balls were also prevalent in the early stages of the game. They were molded from clay and hardened to create a solid playing surface. However, their susceptibility to wear and tear led to the development of more durable materials for billiard balls.

Modern Manufacturing Process

Modern Manufacturing Process

Molding and Shaping

The modern manufacturing process for billiard balls involves molding and shaping the raw materials into precise spheres. This process requires meticulous attention to detail to ensure uniformity in size and weight, which are essential for consistent gameplay.

Hardening and Polishing

Once the balls are molded, they undergo a hardening process to enhance their durability. This is followed by a polishing stage to achieve a smooth and glossy finish, which not only enhances their appearance but also contributes to their performance on the table.

Regulations and Standards for Billiard Balls

Regulations and Standards for Billiard Balls

The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) has established stringent regulations and standards for billiard balls to ensure fair and consistent gameplay across different competitions. These standards cover aspects such as size, weight, roundness, and surface friction, all of which contribute to the quality and performance of the balls.



In conclusion, the composition of billiard balls has evolved significantly over time, from traditional materials such as ivory and wood to modern synthetic materials like phenolic resin and polyester. The manufacturing process has also undergone advancements to meet the demands of players for durability, consistency, and performance. With regulations in place to uphold the quality of billiard balls, players can expect a high standard of gameplay and enjoyment for years to come.


  • What are vintage billiard balls made of?

    Billiard balls were originally made of stone but were eventually replaced with balls made of wood and clay due to the weight of the stone itself. These balls were used until the 1600’s when ivory billiard balls became popular. Ivory billiard balls were expensive and time consuming to make.

  • When did they stop making pool balls out of ivory?

    Ivory balls were used up until the 1970’s with A.E. Schmidt manufacturing them until 1975. The problem with Ivory is that it is a natural substance and tends to react poorly with certain temperatures and humidity.

  • Are billiard balls made of elephant tusks?

    Billiard balls were originally made of Ivory, today they are made up of a chemical compound called Bakelite, as well as some today are made up of a combination of plastics, Bakelite, acrylics, and resin, or any one of these individually.

  • What is the difference between pool balls and billiard balls?

    Billiard balls usually come as a set of 2 cue balls (one colored or marked) and 1 red object ball. Some games call for 2 object balls and 2 cue balls. Pool balls generally come in sets of 2 suits (usually stripes and solids, but reds and yellows sometimes) of 7 object balls each, an 8-ball and a cue ball.

Originally posted 2023-11-14 05:30:08.

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