In the climbing chalk guide, we will be going over what chalk is, how to use it, how to store it, and the different types of chalks available.
What is Climbing Chalk?
Climbing Chalk is a substance placed on a climber’s hands to improve grip and friction between the climbing hold and your hand. The main purpose of climbing chalk is to keep your hands dry for increased climbing performance, safety, and a decrease in the risk of slipping and falling. The hand will be covered in climbing chalk, which has the effect of creating friction for better grip and prevents moisture from entering between your climbing skin and climbing holds.
Athletes in a variety of disciplines have used chalk for centuries to improve grip and friction. It comes from magnesium carbonate, which is also known as the “chalk” mineral. Chalk can come in different colors, but most commonly, it’s white.
How to Use:
Climbing chalk is one of the most important tools for a climber. You will use it every time you climb. You want to apply an even coat to the entirety of your hand. Often it’s not just your fingertips that make contact with the rock or hold; your sweaty palms will make it harder to send!
It’s equally important not to use too much chalk, and this can reduce the friction between you and the hold. Some people will blow or clap to remove excess amounts of chalk. You will also want to remove excess chalk from the holds you are using. This is where a climbing brush comes in handy!
Climbing chalk can also be used to make ‘tick’ marks. These are little lines with chalk that you can use to mark holds to make it easier to remember to use the hold, see the hold, or know where the good spot is. But remember, ALWAYS BRUSH YOUR TICK MARKS when you are done with your climbing session. This is important climbing etiquette.
You will store your chalk in what is called a chalk bag or a chalk bucket. Chalk bags are smaller and can be connected to the waist with a waist belt, so you can chalk up while climbing. Boulderers use chalk buckets. They are bigger to hold more chalk and are placed on the ground while you climb. Often they have more pockets and places to store chalk brushes and other small items.
If you are looking for a bag, check out our chalk bag page!
Different Types of Chalk
Rock climbers often have to question, “what is the best type of climbing chalk?” a decision that can affect their performance. Loose chalk, block chalk, or liquid chalk might be used by different climbers for different reasons and in different environments. We will examine these four types of climbing chalks and explore when they are most appropriate.
Loose Climbing Chalk
Loose climbing chalk is exactly what it sounds like. It’s loose, powder-like climbing chalk that you have to apply to your hands. You’ll store your chalk in a chalk bag. This type of climbing chalk varies in price but is often more expensive than block chalk but less expensive than liquid chalk.
Loose chalk is the most common form of chalk for rock climbers. It’s easy to get a perfect layer on your hands, which is super important if you are chalking while on the route and need to be efficient to not get pumped.
It can be used by boulderers, sport climbers, and trad climbers alike! And can come in different textures.
The benefit of buying loose chalk is that it is ready to go, pour it into your chalk bag, and go climbing! But be careful not to spill your chalk bag; it is tough to clean up off of dirt.
Here at Flashed, our loose chalk is our Chunky Chalk, which comes in 11oz and 16oz options!
Block Climbing Chalk
Block chalk is made out of the same components as loose chalk, but it is compacted into “blocks.” This makes it easier to store and not take up so much space. Another advantage of block chalk is that it is usually cheaper per ounce than loose chalk. You can break the block up to create a loose chunky chalk feel, or you can keep the block intact. Still you will want to use a chalk bag so you don’t make a mess or dirty up your block.
Flashed Chalk Blocks come in an eight pack of 2oz blocks! Stock up!
Liquid Climbing Chalk
Liquid chalk is magnesium carbonate mixed with isopropal alcohol to create a creamy substance. It usually comes in a tube, and you squeeze a bit out onto your hands, rub it in and allow it to dry. This will create a even layer of chalk on your whole hand. Many people use liquid chalk as a base layer then use loose or block chalk on top. This method is useful for long boulder problems or when the temps are not quite ideal. Liquid chalk is also the way to go when it comes to deep water soloing! A wet chalk bag is a big no no.
During the pandemic, many gym were only allowing liquid chalk to be used in their gyms because the isopropal alcohol is a good at killing germs! At Flashed our liquid chalk is Podium. If you demand professional-grade performance, this high-endurance liquid chalk won’t quit when the pressure dials up. 80% alcohol v/v for hand hygiene.
A chalk sock or chalk ball is a little bag with small holes that allow the chalk to filter through and onto your hands. You keep them inside your chalk bag and its a great way to even disperse chalk. They are also good at saving your chalk because the chalk won’t be able to spill out as easily while you chalk up. However some people don’t like the way they feel, so it is all up to personal preference!
Climbing chalk is one of the essential tools for a climber. You will use it every time you climb. It’s important to know what type of chalk you need to buy for what purpose so that you can make the most out of your climbing sessions. I hope you enjoyed and learned something from this climbing chalk guide, and please share if you found it helpful!