Every climber uses chalk when they climb. They apply a huge chunk of chalk before they begin their climb. This happens more frequently in warm and humid weather. But especially in warm weather, putting your hand again and again in the chalk bag seems inconvenient and a waste of time and strength.
That is exactly why a lot of climbers prefer to use liquid chalk as it is very practical and convenient. You can just apply a coat on your hands and it dries out soon. Liquid chalk sticks to your hands and so you don’t have to keep reapplying the chalk after you start climbing.
The only problem is that liquid chalk can be very expensive. This is why we have created a guide on How To Make Liquid Chalk at home. What liquid chalk, in theory, is magnesium powder, dried of course combined with alcohol to turn it into a paste. That mixture is then filled in a plastic bottle to use at your disposal.
A lot of climbing gyms prohibit people from using powdered chalk as they leave residue and get into air ducts. Liquid chalk doesn’t leave any trace and even if it does, it can be cleaned easily. Since liquid chalk is almost untraceable, you should use it for outdoor climbing as well as you don’t have to clean that much after you are done climbing.
Recipe to make your own liquid chalk
Loose chalk for climbing
This is an obvious ingredient. You can use dry powdered climbing chalk or even a whole block of chalk. We recommend using a whole block as you can crush it when you have to mix the alcohol along with the block as well. Because of this you are saving even more money by making your own liquid chalk. The Block of chalks is always cheaper than loose powdered chalk.
Another ingredient that you will need is alcohol. A great alcohol would be ethanol if you want to make good homemade chalk. This is because you don’t need to worry at all about the left-over residue after pure ethanol evaporates. But if you’re serious about this, then use alcohol that has a high alcohol content.
Good liquid chalk always has 70% or more alcohol content. You can use rubbing alcohol as well but the results aren’t always going to be satisfactory, although they are cheap, the stench is terrible. A lot of climbers try to experiment with vodka, but that is completely useless. You should use bioethanol instead
How to prepare it?
If you are planning to use a chalk block, then you will have to crush it till it turns into a fine powder. You can crush the chalk block by putting it inside a plastic bag or a mortar so that you prevent dust clouds. After you crush it, make sure there are no clumps at all. The next step should be to add in the alcohol. You should have a ratio of 2:1 of magnesium chalk powder to alcohol.
The final result should look like toothpaste consistency or should be pasty like a hand cream. When you are mixing, you should test it out first before adding too much alcohol to make the perfect consistency. The normal ratio should be anywhere between 1:1 to 2:1.
Mixing the two ingredients is very easy. All you need to do is put the finely crushed magnesium powder into a bowl slowly and then add the alcohol gradually, not at the same time. Mix the two ingredients with a spoon till you attain the consistency you need.
Keep in mind that alcohol is highly flammable so you should probably not use a mixture or an electric blender. Use your hands and mix the liquid chalk manually.
Putting it in a bottle
After you have prepared the liquid chalk, quickly fill it in a container as the alcohol might evaporate if they don’t do so. If you have made way too much liquid chalk and want to store it for later then you should put it in an airtight container, as even if a little amount of liquid chalk is exposed to air, then the alcohol will evaporate easily. Plus, you don’t really need to make a ton of liquid chalk as it can be prepared very easily and you can make it in minutes. For the containers that can be used to store the liquid chalk, you can use tubes like toothpaste tubes or even shampoo or lotion bottles.
How can liquid chalk be used?
The application of liquid chalk is fairly easy. You just have to take some liquid chalk and apply an even coat as you do with lotions. The main focus area should be your fingers, palms of your hand. And if you don’t apply the liquid chalk to the back of your hands then it is fine. Just before opening the bottle, shake it thoroughly so that you will have an even coat.
The alcohol will evaporate quickly and that will give your hands a cold sensation, similar to when you use disinfectants. As alcohol is liquid in nature, before drying, it will help get the chalk spread in every tiniest crack on your skin. The alcohol will eventually evaporate leaving you with a beautiful layer of magnesium powder that will help you get a good grip while climbing. Plus, it is like magic watching the liquid chalk dry after you have applied it to your hands. And it feels good too, almost refreshing.
Who should not use Liquid Chalk?
A lot of climbers get very sweaty and they don’t mind using liquid chalk that will often dehydrate their hands when they are climbing. But there are several climbers who don’t like having dry hands especially during the winter.
So, they don’t like using liquid chalk as magnesium powder with alcohol will stress their skin and will leave them very uncomfortable. Also, let’s face it, no one likes looking at burst fingers or hands. So if you have the issue of dry hands and your hands are already calloused, then it is not a good idea to use liquid chalk as they will only dry your hands more. But if you are using liquid chalk or even not, wash your hands thoroughly and always apply a moisturizing cream!
Here are some different kinds of chalks that can also be used to make liquid chalk
Chalk blocks are basically just a block of magnesium carbonate that is used majorly by climbing gyms for rock climbing and they help keep the moisture out of your hands. There is a plus point that there are no additives and these are just a block of magnesium carbonate. Chalk blocks come in a pack of eight blocks but you can find a few stores selling solo blocks.
You can crush these blocks as we instructed and you can use it to make liquid chalk.
Chalk balls are mesh-like materials that have pores in them and powdered chalk is sewn inside them. Powdered chalk is prohibited by mostly all of the indoor gyms as they get inside air ducts. Chalk balls are used by most indoor gyms as the application is very easy.
They are easy to use as you just have to rub the balls like blocks to get chalk on your hands. But it may be difficult to apply when you are in the middle of climbing.
You can use the chalk balls the same way chalk blocks are used to make liquid chalk.
What’s the Difference Between Liquid Chalk and Chalk Balls?
The main and the only difference is that you have to spray the liquid chalk on your hands while you will have to rub the chalk balls or chalk blocks coherently to get proper chalk throughout your hands. Liquid chalk is better as it won’t create any mess and is more durable.
What are the advantages of liquid chalk over powdered chalk?
As we discussed earlier, liquid chalk leaves little or no residue at all. Most of the indoor climbing gyms don’t allow the use of powdered chalk as they can create a lot of mess and can also get in the air ducts. It is better to use outdoors as well as powdered chalk can ruin the beautiful rocks but liquid chalk won’t do so. You can also shake hands with other climbers or give them a hi-5 without making their hands white.
Liquid chalk also doesn’t make dust cloud. If you have ever used loose powdered chalk, then you know that when you apply it on your hands a huge cloud of dust will follow. This is not just bad for the environment but also terrible for you.
Economically, liquid chalk is better too. Less powdered chalk is required to make liquid chalk as it is made from the mixture of powdered chalk and alcohol.
Powdered chalk doesn’t coat evenly as it is powder in the end and can rub off. But liquid chalk will cover the tiniest grooves of your hands. It will remove the grease from your hands more as it consists alcohol in it.
The durability of liquid chalk is also more. You won’t have to re-apply the coat of liquid chalk in the middle of the climbing session, whereas you will have to remove your chalk bag midway to apply powdered chalk again and again.
Using liquid chalk is more practical as well because you apply a lesser coat of it compared to powdered chalk. Plus, as an added bonus, you don’t have to spend an entire day cleaning out powdered chalk from your backpack and other equipment.
Liquid chalk is a great way to absorb the moisture from your hands to climb on tough routes and give your hands an even layer of climbing chalk. The durability of liquid chalk is also great and is perfect for shorter routes. Liquid chalk doesn’t leave a lot of residue behind so it can be freely used in indoor climbing gyms as well; whereas powdered chalk is prohibited in most of the gyms. You also won’t have to worry about ruining the beautiful rocks. Buying powdered chalk can prove to be very expensive and you go through it very quickly. By making your own liquid chalk you are not only saving money but also saving the environment.