There are many different types of chalk on the market. Almost all of them are made from magnesium carbonate and some times magnesium oxide. Over time, magnesium carbonate stood against the test of time and became the standard for chalk due to its hygroscopic (moisture absorbing) capabilities. Climbing chalk is used in many sports for the same purpose. That is to increase grip via friction and sweat absorption. The chalk used on black boards in school is made of Calcium Sulfate, which is unable to absorb moisture. Very different from sports chalk! But you maybe asking yourself, “which chalk is right for me?” And the answer to that is preference. Let’s take a deeper look at the different type of chalks and what they’re commonly used for:
- Loose Chalk/ Fine Powder
What is loose chalk? Its chalk grounded up into fine powder to maximize the coverage area of your palm. It can loosely flow through your fingers making it feel soft and smooth. It is carried in chalk bags, chalk balls and chalk buckets.
Chalk bags are commonly used by climbers for quick, and easy access during their climbs.
Chalk balls are loose chalk stored in a sock like fabric ball. Its typically used in indoor environments by climbers and weight lifters and that is because it reduces the mess in the gym. Chalk balls come in two types: refillable and disposable.
Chalk buckets are great to carry large amounts of chalk and put both your hands in. It also reduces the mess in the gym. Most people place chalk buckets on the floor where they won’t tilt and spill easily. Commonly used by weight lifters.
- Chunky Chalk/ Rocky Chalk
Chunky chalk aka rocky chalk is a chalk block broken down into smaller pieces but not crushed into powder. Some athletes prefer this type of chalk because they can crush it to a preferred consistency.
- Chalk Blocks
Chalk blocks are compressed chalk in the shape of a brick. Most athletes like to break the chalk into preferred sizes. Some weight lifters and climbers will use this chalk because it gives them flexibility as to, how much they can brake it down.
- Liquid Chalk
Liquid chalk is a great alternative for a mess free experience. Liquid chalk is magnesium carbonate mixed in with alcohol and other ingredients like resin. Once applied to your hands the liquid dries up and stays on your hands without leaving marks on your equipment. Still the alcohol free solutions are more hygroscopic (retaining moisture) then liquid chalk, but still effective on its own. Commonly used indoors and outdoors. We recommend for the best gripping experience to rub a base layer of liquid chalk and then apply regular chalk on top.
Liquid chalk also comes in the form of a cream/lotion. It is similar to regular liquid chalk but contains additional ingredients and is easier on your hands.
All in all, what chalk you use is a matter of preference. At the end of the day all the different types of chalk work great for absorbing moisture and increasing friction. This is the main purpose of chalk. And now, they are also available in colors!