How To Use our Ultimate Grip Battle Chalk
Want to know what’s the right way to put chalk on your hands? Are you putting on too much or too little? How often should you re-apply? We'll answer a few of your questions.
Whether you’re new to the gym or an experienced climber, you may have wondered about these or other questions regarding the right way to use chalk
Why use Chalk?
In case you haven’t noticed, your body is a moisture-emitting machine. All day long it’s generating and secreting sweat, oils, and other sources of moisture, much of which gets pushed out of your pores and onto the surface of your skin. When you exercise, you create even more, and it usually sits on your skin until something removes it.
For some athletes, this moisture doesn’t significantly affect their performance, but for rock climber, just a bit of moisture on your hands can be the difference between success and failure. As a result, climbers use chalk to dry sweat and other moisture on their hands, increasing friction and improving their grip on the holds.
What is it made from?
Most chalk you’ll find is made from Magnesium Carbonate. It's used by gymnasts, weightlifters, climbers and other athletes who put it on their hands in order to improve friction and grip. Though it is sometimes available in other colors, it’s usually white.
Climbing chalk commonly comes in a few different forms: block, loose, or liquid. Which one you use is a matter of personal preference.
Block chalk is a compressed, solid chunk of Magnesium Carbonate. To use it, you break it apart as much as you want—a common method is to put the block in a chalk bag and step on it until it breaks apart to the desired size.
Loose chalk is block chalk that has already been broken up. It ranges from hardly broken up and chunky to a fine powder. (We currently only have the chalk powder but will add block chalk and liquid chalk in future.)
Sometimes loose chalk will be sold on its own and other times it will be put into a chalk ball, which is a soft, porous mesh ball designed to hold the chalk and prevent it from spilling, limiting the amount you get on your hands.
Compared to block chalk, the advantage of loose chalk is that you just put it in your chalk bag and don’t have to worry about breaking it up. The downside is that you have less control over the texture, and it might be too fine for your taste. Some people also don’t like the feeling of chalk balls and say it’s like rubbing a sock on their hands.
Liquid chalk is Magnesium Carbonate mixed with alcohol. You squirt it onto your hands and spread it around like lotion. The alcohol dries quickly, leaving behind a chalk residue covering your hands. Compared to block and loose chalk, the advantage of liquid chalk is that it is easy to apply, cleaner, and sometimes longer lasting. The disadvantage is that the alcohol can dry out your skin too much and you also have less control over the amount of chalk on your hands at any given time. It's important to know that the chalk on its own, also dries out your skin, so ensure that you apply a moisturizing lotion at the end of your session.
How do you use it?
Climbers store chalk in a chalk bag. (It’s basically just somewhere to hold your chalk). Gymnasts usually have a bowl that they have the powder in, so its easily accessible.
Before your climb, if you have a large chalk bag/bucket, put one or both hands in the bag, grab some chalk, spread it from your palm to your fingertips, then let the excess pour back into the bag and pull your hands out.
Try not to make a mess by pulling out too much chalk that isn’t already rubbed into your hands. If you have a small chalk pot, put the fingers of one or both hands inside, get some chalk on your fingers, then pull them out and either rub both hands together or, if you’re mid-climb, rub your fingers together. Whether you have a bucket or a small pot, at this point you should have a bunch of chalk on your hands and they should be out of the bucket/pot.
If you still see loose particles, blow away the excess. You should now have a smooth, uniform layer of chalk covering your fingers, but minimal loose particles since you blew them off.
Now get climbing before new moisture starts to eat away at the chalk!
When to use chalk?
Everyone’s body produces moisture differently, so some people need to reapply it more than others. Generally speaking though, most climbers will reapply at the beginning of each attempt and possibly again before a particularly difficult move.
It is possible to have too much chalk on your hands—remember, what you’re looking for is a fine layer of chalk covering your fingers, but not a bunch of loose or caked chalk sitting on there.
Over time, you’ll find your sweet spot for the amount of chalk you like on your hands. You’ll get a feel for when you need more based on what your fingers look like and how moist/dry they feel.
That’s it! Now that you know how to put it on, get some chalk for yourself.
We spend a lot of time thinking about chalk, so we hope this guide is helpful to clearing up any confusion. Do you have a different method for applying chalk? Wondering about something we didn’t discuss? We’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment and we’ll be sure to get back to you!
Whether you’re a new climber or a seasoned pro, you crave the moment where your grip does more than you thought it could. That split second is nirvana. we help climbers find that feeling. We use science to engineer the best chalk for rock climbing success.