In most billiards games, players chalk the cue tip before every shot to increase its friction when striking the ball. The better the friction, the smaller the chance of a miscue (slippage) on off-centred shots.
Billiards chalk comes in various brands and colours, making it difficult to differentiate the quality products. Largely, all chalk comprises the same base materials; however, there are some proprietary ingredients that can affect the density, stickiness and texture.
How Is Chalk Made?
Cue tip chalk differs from what teachers use to write on blackboards in schools. Writing chalk comprises calcium carbonate, whereas cue tip chalk typically uses a silicate base. During the manufacturing process, both silica and an abrasive substance like corundum or aloxite are ground together, then dyed and bound with glue.
Colorado State University Compares Cue Tip Chalk
Colorado State University posted a set of experiments to their billiards department comparing several major chalk brands: pre-flag Master, Master, Lava, Blue Diamond, and Kamui. The experiments were designed to test the following:
- The amount of skid caused by chalk on the cue ball and how long said residue lasted;
- How many sidespin shots a single chalking could produce before a miscue.
Interestingly, the study found that all brands performed equally so long as the player chalked before each stroke. Study leaders only noted differences when the cues were not often chalked. In such cases, the denser, dryer varieties lent a small playing advantage.