Liquid Chalk – New Solution For Climbing, Calisthenics And Weightlifting


MARCH, 2021

Liquid chalk is a relatively new solution to slippery surfaces. Previously, magnesium carbonate powder was used to solve this problem. The white powder would be used to coat the hands and increase friction by absorbing any excess fluid. Although this old school solution works, liquid chalk is superior in almost every way.

Magnesium carbonate is mixed with an alcohol to create liquid chalk. This chemical mixture provides several advantages: it’s less messy, more convenient and an overall better grip solution.

1. Liquid Chalk Is More Convenient And Less Messy Than Powder Chalk

Liquid chalk comes in handy bottles that can be taken anywhere. This is especially useful for rock climbers that can strap the bottles to their climbing harnesses for easy access.

Powder chalk on the other hand, typically comes in square blocks that need to be crushed before use. The only way to store these blocks is in plastic containers. Often chalk dust escapes and creates a mess, staining anything it touches.

This is especially annoying when you are trying to maintain a clean environment in your gym. Vacuuming chalk is tedious and expensive. For this reason, many gyms have outright banned powder chalk.

2. Liquid Chalk Provides Better Grip

A liquid is better able to coat the hands and gets into every nook and cranny of your palms. Once the alcohol evaporates, the entire hand is covered with chalk. The coating provided by liquid chalk also sticks better to the hands and lasts longer. Powder chalk on the other hand takes longer to apply properly, and despite the effort will not stick quite as well.

3. Powder Chalk Can Cause Asthma

Powder chalk creates a fine powder that is easily aerosolized and can cause breathing difficulties for people with asthma. Liquid chalk does not have this problem as it is not easily aerosolized.

4. Anti-microbial Properties Of Liquid Chalk

Liquid chalk contains alcohol which kills germs, including the notorious COVID-19. It is no replacement for hand sanitiser, but it will provide some minor benefit in combating pathogens on surfaces.

The grainy nature and less than ideal penetration of the alcohol, means that pathogens are still able to survive deep inside chalk grains. However, air transmission of many germs including COVID-19 is enhanced with increased aerosolized particles. This is why powder chalk can actually help spread germs, while liquid chalk is much safer.

weightlfiting chalk

Disadvantages Of Liquid Chalk Compared To Powder Chalk

Liquid chalk requires that it is kept away from oxygen – as this will cause the alcohol to evaporate prematurely. Poorly sealed bottles can expose liquid chalk to oxygen and can cause the chalk to dry inside the bottle before use. This makes it difficult to get out.

Who Can Benefit From Liquid Chalk

Grip is extremely important for many sports such as rock climbing, crossfit, calisthenics, gymnastics, olympic lifting and weight lifting due to the high stakes involved. Not only does poor grip prevent peak performance but it can directly and indirectly cause injury. Namely, reduced grip forces us to engage our forearms and hands more, causing faster fatigue and unnecessary muscle tension.

Metal surfaces are notoriously slippery and can definitely benefit from chalk. Gymnastics and calisthenics bars, as well as the poles used in pole dancing are the best use scenarios for liquid chalk. Slipping while performing skills in these sports can be disastrous, hence liquid chalk is a necessary safety measure.

Liquid chalk can also be used on wooden, plastic and rubber surfaces. Wooden surfaces provide the most grip with the application of chalk due to the coarser fibres of the material, but metal surfaces receive the most benefit from the application of chalk as they provide the least grip without it.

Other common applications of liquid chalk include on gymnastics rings, parallel bars and kettlebells.

Written by Vic

Melbourne-based Personal Trainer, Calisthenics Athlete and the Founder of Street Workout St Kilda. Super passionate about bodyweight training and the art of movement.
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