Climbing For Beginners: What Is Climbing Chalk?

Climbing For Beginners: What Is Climbing Chalk?

Have you ever watched climbers and wondered why they use climbing chalk? Or maybe you’ve used this stuff before and you’ve asked people what is climbing chalk made of but no one could really give you an answer.

Whatever the case may be, you’ve come to the right place to learn about this essential item for climbers of all experience levels.

In today’s article, we’re going to shed some light on this topic. We’re going to talk about what the chalk is used for, what it’s made from, how to use it, and the best way to carry it.

Why Use Climbing Chalk?

Your body creates a lot of moisture throughout the day. All that sweat and oil gets pushed out of your pores and onto your skin, clothes and anything else you touch. When you’re working out, your body is going to create more moisture that just sits there until you do something to remove it.

Climbing Chalk On Hands

There are athletes who don’t suffer any performance issues as a result of the sweat, but if you’re a rock climber, any kind of moisture in your hands will make climbing that much more difficult. That’s where the chalk comes into play. By applying chalk to your hands, it’ll soak up excess moisture, thus allowing you to get a better grip on the holds as you climb.

What Is Climbing Chalk Made Of?

The climbing chalk that rock climbers use is made from magnesium carbonate. This is the same stuff that weight lifters and gymnasts use to help improve their grip and friction. There are a few different forms of climbing chalk:

Block Chalk

This is a solid block of magnesium carbonate. When you want to use it, you’ll want to break off a piece of it place it in a bag. Some will step on it, while others will smash the bag with a rock until the chalk is usable size.

Loose Chalk

This is chalk that’s already broken apart and is ready to be used. You can find chalk that is ground into a fine powder or it could look like it’s been barely broken apart. The only difference between the different types of loose chalk is the texture and the type you choose is based primarily on personal preference.

Eco Chalk

This is a chalk that is the solution for those who are concerned about leaving a mess on the surface of the rock from traditional chalk. This chalk is made from a colorless drying agent and it is usually an acceptable alternative to chalk when it’s prohibited to use the real deal.

Liquid Chalk

This type of chalk is just loose chalk that’s been mixed with alcohol. To use it, you’ll want to squeeze some out onto your hand and rub it around like you’re applying lotion. The alcohol will dry quickly, leaving a chalky residue. The advantage of using liquid chalk over the other types of climbing chalk is that it’s easier to apply and it’s a little cleaner too.

Holding Liquid Chalk

How To Carry Climbing Chalk

When it comes to how to carry your climbing chalk, again, it’ll be based on personal preference. Many people will use a rock climbing chalk bag, bucket or a pot to carry their chalk.

To use the chalk when it’s in one of these options, you’ll want to dip your hand into the vessel and grab some of the chalk. You’ll then want to spread the chalk on your fingers and hands before letting the rest of the chalk fall back into the vessel.

The drawback to using one of these is that it’s going to be messy, especially if the chalk isn’t rubbed into the skin properly.

Other than using a bag, you can find chalk balls. The chalk balls are basically small pouches made from a porous fabric that have been filled with powdered chalk. The pouch is then sewn shut. When you want to use the balls of chalk, you’ll want to squeeze the ball several times until the loose chalk has thoroughly covered your hands.

If you’re going to be climbing indoors, a chalk ball or liquid chalk is the best option. Unlike using a bag, bucket, or pot where you have to dip your hands in, a chalk ball is easier and less messy to apply because the chalk is neatly contained in the ball.

Final Thoughts

Our bodies produce moisture at different rates and some people may need more chalk than others. Or, they may need to reapply chalk more frequently than others. Usually rock climbers will apply the chalk at the beginning of the climb and sometimes before they attempt a particularly difficult maneuver.

We recommend applying the chalk at the beginning of your climb and whenever you feel like you’re not getting a good grip as you climb. Now, do keep in mind that it is possible to have too much chalk on your hands!

Using Climbing Chalk

You should only have a thin layer of dust on your hand. You do not want to have so much chalk on your hand that it’s caked in between your fingers or if there’s a noticeable amount of loose chalk on your hands.

It doesn’t matter what your skill level is, climbing chalk is one of those items that you don’t want to go on a climbing trip without. Now, what type of climbing chalk you use or how you carry it is all personal preference. Some people like big chunks of block chalk while others prefer the ease of application of liquid chalk.

Leave us a comment below and tell us what your favorite type of climbing chalk is. Are you a firm believer in liquid chalk or do you love the feel of dipping your hands in a bag of loose chalk? Whatever it is, we want to hear from you!

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