weight lifter putting on liquid chalk

Many climbers think of liquid chalk as their underrated secret weapon.

When the conditions are hot and humid, good-quality liquid chalk can be the difference between sticking confidently to the holds and sliding off in a sweaty state of despair. At the crag or at the gym, liquid chalk can be an incredibly beneficial addition to your climbing tool kit. 

 magnesium for climbers
Fresh Calk: Strangely Satisfying, Isn’t It?

In this post, we’ll review some of the most popular liquid chalk options on the market and help you decide if liquid climbing chalk is a product that you should consider using.

By the end, you’ll exactly which liquid chalk to choose to crush souls and slay projects!

Hey! By the way… this page contains affiliate links. So if you make a purchase after clicking one at no cost to you we may earn a small commission. Thanks for your support! 

Best Performance – Friction Labs Secret Stuff

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This liquid chalk is $20 for a 75ml tube. Though quite a bit more expensive than its competitors per volume, Secret Stuff offers the excellent quality that we have come to expect from Friction Labs. 

While there isn’t a major difference between Secret Stuff and other liquid chalks on the market, its texture is noticeably fine and creamy compared to its competitors. Friction Labs makes dry chalk that is very fine and soft, so it makes sense that their liquid chalk offering would be similar.

One full application of Secret Stuff and you will notice that your hands stay covered in chalk for an impressively long period of time. With no additives or drying agents, Secret Stuff is a pure mixture of magnesium carbonate and isopropyl alcohol. 

For climbers who are bothered by the strong smell of alcohol, Friction Labs also offers a scent-and-alcohol-free variation of Secret Stuff for the same price. 

While Secret Stuff doesn’t quite offer the value of some of the other options on this list, climbers who are loyal to Friction Labs will find that the brand’s high-quality standard is maintained by Secret Stuff.

The Close Second – BD White Gold Liquid Chalk

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Black Diamond’s Liquid White Gold chalk has been scientifically engineered to enhance your grip and help you to not slip off of your project. A high-tech recipe combines alcohol with Black Diamond’s White Gold dry chalk and 10 percent Upsalite — a concentrated form of extra-absorbent magnesium carbonate — to create a high-end product that keeps your hands dry for the long haul.

Black Diamond claims that their unique blend of White Gold dry chalk and Upsalite absorbs twice as much moisture as regular chalk. A 150ml tube of White Gold costs $25, making it one of the more expensive options on this list, especially when you consider a ratio of chalk-per-money.

Testers have determined that the Upsalite really does provide an incredibly long-lasting base coat of chalk. Black Diamond sells the pure Upsalite in dry form so that climbers can use it on its own or mix it with other chalk to form the ultimate chalk cocktail.

The Happy Middle Ground – Mammut Liquid Chalk

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Just $20 for a 200ml tube, this high-quality liquid chalk is based upon a simple recipe with no unnecessary additives. Mammut Liquid Chalk comes out of the tube in a pleasantly thick paste and leaves good, uniform coverage on your hands after you rub it in. 

Because this chalk does not include any scented additives, it smells strongly of alcohol. After squeezing a small dollop out of the tube, the alcohol dries in less than a minute and leaves your hands with a nice, even coating of chalk that will fill every wrinkle and crevice on your hands. 

For use as a baselayer before starting up a route, Mammut’s liquid chalk stays on for an impressively long time and will help keep your use of dry chalk to a minimum. This creates a noticeable advantage, especially on long sport and trad routes. 

According to some manufacturers, less than 1 milliliter of liquid chalk is plenty per single use. That means that 1 tube of Mammut Liquid Chalk will give you over 200 uses, a great value for $20. 

The Dirtbaggers Choice – Metolius Liquid Super Chalk

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Metolius Liquid Super Chalk is an excellent value at just $10 for 200ml. The chalk comes out creamy and smooth, and it dries thoroughly in just a few seconds, coating every surface and pore.

During hot summer climbing sessions outside, a few applications of Liquid Super Chalk will increase friction on the rock and allow you to use less powdered chalk along the way. Some days, dry chalk just never seems to fully dry the skin, and Liquid Super Chalk is the perfect antidote.

There are lots of great liquid chalk products on the market, and this one from Metolius hangs in there with the best of them.

Made from a simple recipe of dry chalk and ethanol, Metolius Super Chalk is the ideal choice for climbers in search of a good value. Plus, it can be purchased in packs of twelve tubes. 

The “New Guy on the Block” – Edelweiss Liquid Climbing Chalk

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Though Edelweiss is most well known for manufacturing climbing ropes, they have now entered the game with their own liquid chalk product

Many users feel that this is the best liquid chalk for climbing on the market, so it seems safe to say that Edelweiss’s foray into chalk production is a success. 

While other chalks tend to create a film on the surface of your hands, this product seems to adhere to your skin and stay on throughout a long climbing session. Because this chalk sticks to your hands so well, you’d think it would contain a resin additive, but, miraculously it is fully resin-free.

For $15 you can get a 250ml bottle of the stuff, which is a great value especially considering how little you need to use to create a thorough and long-lasting coating. 

The alcohol in this product takes about 30 seconds to dry, which is a bit longer than other options, but if good quality liquid chalk is what you’re after, I’m sure you’ll find that the Edelweiss Liquid Chalk is worth the wait.

Is Liquid Chalk Better Than Loose Chalk?

Neither form of chalk is strictly better, and many climbers utilize both kinds of chalk during a single climbing session. Liquid chalk does stay on your hands longer than dry chalk, so it is better at creating a base coat before jumping onto your project. 

Liquid Chalk is more effective for keeping the hands dry when the conditions are hot and humid. In addition, liquid chalk doesn’t harm the air quality by filling the space with particles of magnesium carbonate. Many gyms do not allow loose chalk for this reason.

For deep water solo climbing, liquid chalk is the better option because you will not have to risk getting your chalk bag wet and losing a bunch of loose chalk to the water. 

Finally, liquid chalk is less wasteful than loose chalk. A little goes a long way and a single tube can last for hundreds of applications.

Does Liquid Chalk Kill the Coronavirus?

Liquid Chalk

Some climbers have claimed that liquid chalk can work like alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Many climbing gyms are currently requesting that climbers use liquid chalk in an effort to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the gym. 

Loose chalk can harm lung health, and some liquid chalks may help lessen the risk of spreading covid from climber to climber. 

However, we unfortunately cannot say for certain that liquid chalk provides guaranteed protection against the spread of coronavirus. Liquid chalk with an alcohol content of over 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol certainly might kill the virus, but we cannot be absolutely certain. 

What is Liquid Chalk?

rock climber

The active ingredient in every tube of liquid chalk is identical to the standard climbing chalk that climbers keep in their chalk bags.

All forms of climbing chalk are made of magnesium carbonate or MgCO3 — a solid, white, inorganic material. Because MgCO3 is relatively insoluble in water, and because sweat is mostly made of water, putting chalk on your hands while climbing helps to keep hands dry and sweat-free.

In a tube of liquid chalk, magnesium carbonate is typically mixed with alcohol to create a liquid slurry that dries quickly when exposed to the air. Many liquid chalks also include thickening additives, which help to create a thicker coating of chalk on the hands. 

Drying agent is another common additive that is especially effective for climbers with extra sweaty hands. Resin is another additive that is included by some brands. While resin does make your hands sticky, it is not a good idea for use in public climbing gyms or outdoor areas because it sticks to the holds and is difficult to remove.

Some liquid chalk recipes include alcohol, but others do not. Keep an eye out for liquid chalks that include resin, a sticky substance that should not be used by climbers, especially when climbing outside. Resin can permanently damage climbing holds. 

Also check out: “What is Liquid Chalk and Is It Better For Climbers?

Why Do Climbers Use Chalk?

Chalk allows climbers to keep their hands free of moisture in order to maintain maximum friction while climbing. Especially in warm or humid conditions, chalk is often essential for climbers to feel confident in the contact between their hands and the wall.

How to Make Liquid Climbing Chalk?

Fortunately, liquid climbing chalk is based upon a very simple recipe and can be made at home without too much trouble. To begin, you’ll need a good bit of your dry chalk of choice and a bottle of rubbing alcohol that is at around 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. 

If it isn’t already in powder form, break up your dry chalk until it resembles the texture of flour. Next, mix the two ingredients together while maintaining a chalk-to-alcohol ratio of 2:1. If you use two cups of powdered chalk, you’ll need one cup of alcohol. Store in an airtight container.

Also check out: “DIY Liquid Chalk: How to Make Your Own & Save Money

How To Use Liquid Climbing Chalk?

rock climber

To use liquid chalk, simply squeeze out a small dollop from the container into the palm of your hand. Typically, a little less than 1 milliliter is a good amount to start with. Rub the liquid chalk over both hands, and be sure to fully cover all surfaces of your hands that will be making contact with the rock. If your hands often get sweaty between your fingers, it is wise to ensure coverage in those areas, too. 

Once the chalk is applied, wait 10 to 30 seconds for the alcohol to fully dissolve. You should be left with a thin coating of chalk that will look like you just dipped your hands into a pile of powdered sugar. A full coating should last for a good while, depending on the conditions where you are climbing.

Many climbers think of liquid chalk as a base layer that goes on the hands before starting up a long route or beginning a bouldering session. By beginning with liquid chalk, you will likely discover that you need less dry chalk than usual. This can be super helpful on routes where you find yourself forced to chalk up in the middle of the crux. 

Perhaps liquid chalk will be your key to sending!

Does Liquid Chalk Dry Out Skin?

Yes, liquid chalk can dry out your skin. For climbers with naturally dry hands, liquid chalk may not be a great idea as it will only worsen your chronically dry condition. However, climbers with especially sweaty hands may find liquid chalk to be totally essential.

After climbing with liquid chalk, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. If your hands feel irritated or uncomfortable, apply moisturizer to replenish the dried out skin. 

Related articles:What is Liquid Chalk Made Of ~ The Mystery Solved!13 Best Chalk Bags for Rock Climbing [Tried & Tested]

Published by Austin Beck-Doss