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What is Climbing Chalk and Which Type is Right For Me?

January 26, 2016

What is Climbing Chalk and Which Type is Right For Me?

Chalk is used not only in rock climbing, but also in gymnastics and weight lifting. It is applied to the hands to absorb the sweat, ensure a strong grip and prevent slipping.

Pure climbing chalk is magnesium carbonate, MgCO3. Although, many branded products may contain additional coloring, drying agents and scents.

Today chalk is available in three forms: Block, Loose (Powdered) and Liquid. 

Whether it is block or loose, to apply it, put the chalk in your chalk bag, and coat your hands with the chalk by dipping your hands into your chalk bag and covering them with a thin layer of chalk. You might want to rub off the excess, or just blow it off.  

Block Chalk

Block chalk is the cheapest option and it is usually composed of compressed magnesium carbonate without any additives. To get it ready for use, you will need to crush the block into smaller pieces based on your size preference. 

Loose (Powdered) Chalk

Loose chalk or powdered chalk is more expensive, as it is processed into fine dust or crumbles and usually not pure, containing additives for performance improvement and coloring. Many indoor climbing gyms won't allow the use of loose chalk as the chalk dust will linger in the air. You will need to use a chalk ball to contain the loose chalk.

Allowed for use in most climbing gyms, chalk balls are small mesh sacks filled with loose chalk. As the chalk dust is contained, it will be prevented from lingering in the air. These provide a clean choice for indoor climbing and will last longer than loose chalk as you will lose less into thin air.

Liquid Chalk

Liquid chalk is an expensive alternative to loose chalk and block chalk. It is applied to the hands similar to a lotion and then allowed to dry. This also provides a clean option as it will prevent chalk dust from lingering in the air. It is preferred in climbing competitions as it will last longer on the hands and reduce the climber's attempt to dip his/her hands into the chalk bag.


Whether you are into climbing, gymnastics or weight lifting, follow this link to shop for two Ogres' collection of chalk bags.


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