Updated May 21, 2019
If you are interested in learning about liquid chalk you have come to the right place!
Here is an overview of what you’ll learn in this article:
- Best chalk for rock climbing?
- What is liquid chalk?
- Benefits of liquid chalk
- Liquid + standard chalk for climbing (the double up!)
- Liquid chalk for weightlifting (special health consideration)
- Best liquid chalk (reviews)
Lets do this!
There’s nothing worse than reaching for that last hold, in the final move of an epic climb, to feel your fingers slowly slipping. Then bam – you’re on the ground! Those sweaty hands will be the death of us all! It’s a struggle we all have experienced from time to time. Some more than others. It is one of those things that our body naturally does, and we cannot control it.
I had a friend who did a ton of extremely hard bouldering, and he was the sweatiest person I had ever met. He used to get so frustrated midway through a challenging climb, when he would slip off, not because he was exhausted or that the climb was too hard. But he would fall because he could not hold his grip from so much sweat. It was a combination of fear, but also just simply being a sweaty person.
It sounds insulting when we call someone a “sweaty” person, but let’s be real for a minute. Everyone sweats, and it isn’t necessarily something that has to do with anyone’s hygiene. We can sweat heavily in our hands and or feet from being excited, or nervous, regular excess oils or even environmental humidity.
So even though my friend was an extremely advanced climber, he still struggled with it. We went on a hunt for the best chalk we could find for him, and just for our own knowledge of climbing products. Everyone knows the basic essentials for climbing. Whether you are a novice, or have been climbing for years, you know exactly what you need to get into the sport. A pair of your very own climbing shoes is a must, a harness (if you dare to explore ropes), and a chalk bag full of your favorite chalk.
What is the best chalk for rock climbing?
Over my years of climbing I have explored different types of chalk. From different brands, to different textures, to different pricing. There are lots of options out there for you. This continues to be true, and only seems to be expanding with time as the love for the sport grows.
I have used so many different kinds of chalks over the years, but I would say for the first few years I stuck with the standard chalk block. Climbing gyms carry them on a regular basis, they are always fully stocked at REI, and in general they are usually the cheapest and easiest option. However, I felt like I was going through blocks of chalk every 2 or 3 weeks. It felt like I was always running out.
One day, I came across the brand Friction Labs on instagram and was drawn instantly to the branding more so than anything. I mean who doesn’t want to use a chalk strain called Unicorn Dust?! I was sold. This chalk was one of the best chalks I have ever used. It kept my hands dry, without actually drying them out. It was pretty amazing.
They offer Unicorn Dust as a fine texture, Gorilla Grip as a chunky texture, and Bam Bam as super chunky. My first bag of Unicorn Dust lasted me well over 8 months of climbing, while climbing 2-3 times per week in the gym, and 1-2 times per month outside. So though you will see a higher price than the standard chalk block, it will last you a significantly longer period of time. You get what you pay for is a phrase that rings true for this brand.
Sure enough this brand took off, and started implementing other new products as they expanded. Then one day they introduced the “Secret Stuff.” The Secret stuff is their very own line of liquid chalk.
What exactly is liquid chalk?
My first instinct was to question how liquid chalk could help with sweaty hands. I definitely wouldn’t think to put something liquid on my hands when I am trying to avoid moisture altogether. It feels a bit conflicting. It didn’t quite make sense, until I read more about it. To put it scientifically, this liquid chalk is an isopropyl alcohol based gel, and after drying creates the perfect layer of magnesium carbonate in every nook and cranny on your hands. Wow! This seems rad, right? Let’s see what else liquid chalk has to offer.
What are the benefits of liquid chalk?
One of the first things I noticed right off that bat, was that this eliminates so much mess. I am definitely guilty of spilling chalk all over the gym, all over my pants, all over my car, and pretty much all over the planet. It happens. But liquid chalk lessens this happening. It keeps you cleaner, the gym cleaner, rocks cleaner, and also eliminates product waste.
Sure it is less messy, but is it actually better for your health?
Another benefit to this specific liquid chalk is that it also helps with hygiene. It acts as a hand sanitizer as well, at least in the alcohol based version (also available in an alcohol free version for sensitive skin). It kills all the bacteria that your hands will likely gather over the course of a workout. This is quite brilliant in my opinion. Considering the state of our world currently through the impact of Covid-19, hygiene will play a much larger factor in our decisions over the next few years. Especially if you are working out in any sort of gym setting.
Forget about climbing for a second. Think of weightlifting, gymnastics, or any sport where multiple people are touching the same equipment daily. That can get dirty, real fast. Imagine knowing that every weightlifter in the gym is also using an anti-bacterial chalk, while sharing the same equipment as you. That eases my mind just thinking about it. So this antibacterial feature really is intriguing. In my opinion this makes liquid chalk the best option for weightlifters also…
Liquid chalk AND standard chalk? Let’s double up!
People who severely suffer from sweaty hands, like to double up with both liquid chalk, and loose powder chalk. I imagine this would be the ultimate combo for anyone who struggles to keep their hands dry. In fact many companies actually brand their product this way, recommending you use the liquid chalk as a base layer, and then apply the powdered chalk as a finishing touch. This sounds like a heavy duty way to stay extra dry.
So I went to explore the options of liquid chalk. Much to my surprise, there are tons of different options. Many don’t have more than 10 reviews so they are likely much newer, but there were several brands that stuck out to me. Let’s take a look!
Best Liquid Chalk (Reviews)!
As stated above, I am a major fan of the brand Friction Lab. They never fall short of an expectation. In fact my experience is that they surpass expectations every time. The price point is a bit higher, but they notoriously have a product that lasts longer than most. Not only does this product offer antibacterial features, it is also silica free! This also means there are no artificial dying agents that will do damage to the skin. In general it falls under the category of a, “clean” product. It labels itself as dairy free, gluten free, vegan, no additives, and a big one… Not from China! They are a product responsibly made in the USA. With a product that not only works superb, but also offers antibacterial features, and is ethically made, this is my number 1 choice.
Fit Grip liquid chalk seems to know exactly what they are doing. With thousands of positive reviews, this seems to be the “go-to” liquid chalk that reigns in the most popularity. Maybe it is because it comes in a bottle that includes a carabiner to clip onto your gym bag or harness, or maybe it is because the price point is so good. It also seems to gear more towards weight lifters. It comes in several different size options, which is nice for a pretty big savings. On the small bottles, we are paying around 22 cents per mL, but with their 250mL bottle, you end up paying only about 10 cents per mL. Those are small savings in the long run, but who doesn’t like finding some extra savings here and there!
Spider Chalk’s Black Widow liquid chalk was a suggested product similar to Friction Lab’s Secret Stuff. They brand specifically for Crossfit athletes, and are very vocal about how long the chalk will stay through an intense workout. They do admit to importing their ingredients from other countries, but say it is ethically made in the US. About 82% of the reviews for this product are extremely positive, while less than 5% are negative. It seems this is a good middle ground product that isn’t too expensive, but has good quality for the right price.
If you’re on a budget this is 100% for you. This brand also sells chalk blocks, chalk balls, and larger packaged sets, which can be nice if you want to try a variety of different types of chalks. Though this still contains alcohol in its ingredients, they do not promote their brand with “anti-bacterial” features. Something to also keep in mind is the actual structure of this bottle is not as sturdy as the others. This makes sense, when you are seeing a lower priced item compared to its competitors. Companies who aim to sell something lower, have to cut costs somewhere. For this product, it was definitely in the packaging.
This generic liquid chalk brand is great as a cheaper, starter kit. They have a larger 250mL option as well as a smaller 50mL option that does come with a carabiner as well. Again this product is cheaper, so you have to look for ways that the product may fail you. Some of the flaws we found are that the bottle can leak from time to time, and the overall consensus is that the liquid chalk doesn’t last for long. Most reviewers complain that they need to reapply mid-workout, which in the end doesn’t actually save you as much money as you think.
So what’s the verdict?
Through all the research, and reviews, I find myself gravitating towards using both liquid and powder for different settings. I’m a bit old-school when it comes to my chalk when I’m climbing outside, so I like to have a bag attached to my harness that I can reach into and refresh my chalky hands. It may be used more so as a comfortable habit, but it works for me.
My choice for liquid chalk is to explore this more within the gym. I think for health reasons, this makes so much sense. A healthy clean option for all.
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