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One of the most important tip pool experts will give you is to remember to apply chalk before taking a shot. This ‘chalking up’ of the pool cue results in all that powdery mess on the pool table after a game, thus requiring a thorough clean up before the next session.
You will find the blue cube of chalk in every billiard table around the world. It covers up the balls in a powdery film, gets all over your hands, and also makes the cues dirty. But, you know what this is inevitable to help you get that perfect shot in a game of pool.
Technically, it is used to create a kind of friction between the cue ball and cue tip, when you apply any form of spin. However many professionals feel that it gives them a sense of pre-preparation and psychological boost for the shot. It gives them the time to focus and think before hitting the ball.
In this post, we will discuss more what pool chalk does and the right way to chalk-up the tip, but before that let’s take a look at the substitutes for pool chalk. What do you do when you have run out of that blue cube or need some extra friction? Read on to find out.
5 Alternatives For Pool Chalk
We have all been in situations when we need to take a shot but have run out of the pool chalk. You don’t need to wait until you get a new set of a blue cube for the game. Some easy substitutes can help you create good friction required for the game. Let’s check out:
#1. Scuffing the cue tip
As the tip has a plain rounded surface, it fails to create the friction required when hitting the ball. You can work on this by slightly scuffing the surface to give you a better grip. Pool players often use their keys or pocket knife to roughen up the tip a little bit.
#2. Plaster on the ceiling or wall
This is just like they used to do in the old days when they ran out of chalk. Oh! Just be sure you don’t drill your cue right into the ceiling (LOL)! Just a little bit of scruff from the drywall or ceiling can serve the purpose just right.
#3. Chalk powder from a chalkboard
If you have a chalkboard around you then this can also serve as a good alternative for pool chalk. After, what you want is the powdery substance coating the cue tip. So, take some chalk powder from the chalkboard and layer it over the tip to give you added friction.
#4. Cigarette ash
Talking about possibilities, many might work depending on how you use them. Some pool enthusiasts have even mentioned in the forums about using the powdery cigarette ash as a chalk alternative. With nothing else around, you will as well want to give it a try.
#5. Talcum powder
In the absence of pool chalk, some people often resort to using talcum powder but make sure you do not use baby powder as it contains some amount of moisture. Some people even suggest using powdered graphite that you can find at any hardware store.
Tips To Help You Chalk Up Correctly
Now, that you know how to use alternatives as pool chalk, let’s look at some of the tips to help you apply chalk correctly. As a beginner, this is probably one of the biggest lessons that you will learn to maximize your time spent at the billiards table.
#1. You must remember to apply chalk on the cue tip correctly before every single shot. Please remember that the dust quality and quality varies in different brands. So, in some cases, you may need to chalk once or twice in between the game.
#2. You do not need to drill a hole in the chalk because in this case, the chalk only gets at the center of the tip and over the ferrule. There’s a famous saying in the world of billiards and it goes like this – chalk up the cue tip just like a lady puts lipstick on her lips.
#3. When you want to ensure that your pool cue tip gets the most adequate and thorough chalk coverage, make sure you tilt the cue at an angle and use a brushing motion. Once done, you may slowly turn the cue stick while ensuring that the chalking coverage stays steady.
#4. Yes, we have all seen this happen but this is not the proper technique. Never chalk the cue over the table as this will get the chalk dust and the felt will also get damaged. This can make the balls and pool table cloth react differently.
#5. Some people tend to find that extra chalk dust on the cue tip repulsive and they try to get rid of it by banging the cue stick at the side of the table. Don’t do the mistake of blowing on your tip because breath is laden in moisture that can cake-up the chalk and not let it work as efficiently.
#6. When you share the chalk cube on the table, remember to return it after your turn so that the next person can use it. You don’t need it when you are not shooting or when you are not at the table.
#7. You may be under pressure, but do not let that make you whack a chalk cube at the side of the table of slam it down. Also, avoid the habit of putting the cube between your feet and rubbing the cue in an upside-down drilling motion as this can be damaging for both the cue tip and chalk.
#8. Chalk powder creates a lot of mess but you can keep that in check by keeping the chalk down so that the face is upwards. This will ensure that both your table and clothes stay clean. This keeps dust off your hands and also ensures that the balls and other equipment are dust-free.
#9. Always store the pool chalk in a dry and cool place because overexposure may lead to the problem of dead chalk, resulting in miscuing. If you regularly play pool, we would suggest that you take a closer look at the chalk to find out whether it needs to be replaced.
#10. To maintain the felt or pool table cloth and keep it looking clean, we suggest that you always use the same color chalk to stay consistent with the color of the pool table cloth. The chalk marks will occur even in this case, but they will be less noticeable when you use the same colored chalk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why Do You Need To Chalk A Pool Cue
A. While this may appear obvious, many beginners fail to understand the need behind this practice, so let’s briefly take you through it. We have already discussed above that applying a bit of chalk or any alternative of it helps in giving a grip to the cue ball.
So, the question is – can you still play without that bit of extra friction? Well, you will still be able to play and take a shot but it will be harder to hit the cue balls. When you want to get any form of spin, you will need to hit towards the edge of the ball.
When you hit closer to the edge of the cue using a small rounded tip, this will not give you the consistent shots that you want. So, applying some chalk dust on the tip helps in giving that extra spin to the spherical cue ball without slipping off the edge.
Q. Is pool chalk toxic to eat?
The billiards chalk is prepared by crushing silica and corundum or aluminum oxide into a powdery substance. It is essentially the same material that fine sandpapers are made from. Pool chalk is usually considered as non-toxic if consumed in small quantity, but that does not mean that you eat it!
If by mistake someone consumes a large amount of the chalk then it can be irritating to the lining of the stomach and result in vomiting. Hence, the chalk should be kept away from babies and pets as they can be a choking hazard for them.
In case you find your child or pet eating pool chalk, there is no need to panic. We suggest that you take the chalk away and wipe out their mouth with a soft damp cloth. Next, give them some water to drink in order to flush the chalk down the system.
Q. What type of chalk is the best
A. Just like any other item associated with the pool game, you will also find many variations in chalk. With so many different options having diverse characteristics essential for the game, it can be tough to find the best chalk. Check for these two aspects before choosing the perfect pool chalk:
- The number of shots you can take before requiring to re-chalk the cue stick
- For how long the chalk marks stay on the cue ball after you take shots
Professionals prefer to chalk that stays because they want to be focused on their game rather than worry about whether they need to chalk again or not before taking the next shot. Also, the chalk retention on cue balls is important because it causes skids.
A skid occurs when the cue ball gets thrown off the course, of the original trajectory due to friction between the object ball and cue ball. This is often caused by the chalk marks that are left on the cue ball. While you can play a shot correctly, the leftover chalk tends to create friction making the ball skid and miss.
Q. Is there anything called the best pool chalk
A. While it’s hard to find a clear winner when it comes to choosing that best pool chalk, however, several factors determine the best performer. The performance of the different type of pool chalks typically comes down to the durability and it is based on the environment and playing conditions.
If you want to find out which chalk is best, we suggest that you undertake a standard test and apply a consistent level of chalk coating to different cue sticks. Next, take shots and see how many strikes you can take on one before requiring to reapply the chalk.
We hope that by now you have a clearer understanding of what you need pool chalk and the role it plays in ensuring a successful game. No wonder there are several benefits of applying the chalk correctly on the cue, and in its absence, you may try the above-mentioned alternatives for pool chalk.
Remember that the main objective of using chalk is to create friction between the ball and cue tip. It gives you a better grip on the ball for sidespin to improve your game. You may use any of the different alternatives as long as they serve the same purpose correctly.
There are many benefits of using chalk or its substitute and we recommend that as a beginner you use it after every shot. Once you get a hang of the game and gain more confidence, you will be able to take more shots before needing to reapply the chalk or its substitute.