Let's Talk Chalk : Breaking Down Your Chalk Options

Let's Talk Chalk!

     Chances are, if you walk (or scroll) into a climbing gear store, there's likely to be an overwhelming number of chalk options; but which form of white dust is really worth your money? Which one will give you the edge to finally pull the last move on your project? The answer is the same for most things in life: It's different for everyone! For today's gear chat, let's talk chalk. 

Liquid Chalk


  • Provides easy, full hand coverage 
  • Lasts longer on your skin than most dry chalks
  • Cleaner (Less mess/chalk dust fallout)
  • Due to its isopropyl alcohol ingredient, it acts as an anti-bacterial (making it quite popular in gyms throughout the pandemic).
  • Can be used while deep-water soloing, so the climber doesn’t have a sopping wet chalk bag if they fall into the water.


  • Dries out your hands quickly (Due to the alcohol within it). Some with sensitive skin warn it can cause irritation. For that reason, try a small amount first to observe how your skin responds. 
  • It can be difficult to chalk up again while sport-climbing! You need both hands to use a bottle, versus the one hand needed for a chalk bag. Some say this makes liquid chalk more applicable to boulderers.
  • It's often more expensive, depending on the brand.

Dry Chalk


  • There is a large amount of variety available. (More info on these options down below under Dry Chalk Varieties!) 
  • It doesn't go bad if you happen to leave it open.
  • It won't dry out your hands as quickly as liquid chalk, since it isn't mixed with alcohol. 
  • Can be used to chalk up mid-climb when placed in a chalk-bag, therefore encouraging less "takes" for sport climbers.


  • Messier and can be unhealthy to inhale when it lingers in the air
  • Doesn’t last quite as long as liquid chalk
  • Can be hard to spread evenly on your hands

Dry Chalk Varieties

Here at ClimbSource, we captured some slow motion videos to show the difference in chalk textures.

Super Chunky - (BamBam)

Chunky - (Gorilla Grip)

 Fine - (Unicorn Dust)

Chalk Socks: Some climbers place their dry chalk into socks. This decreases the amount of chalk fallout, leading to less mess, and is considered good etiquette to use in busy gym spaces. While this could be a literal sock...most climbers use specifically manufactured chalk 'socks' sold in climbing gear stores. 









Chalk Blocks: These are exactly what they sound like in the name - Cubes of chalk! Since these blocks have corners that can be used in a similar manner to chalkboard chalk, some climbers utilize these to leave tick marks on routes to give reminders of good holds/beta.  


    We hope this helps narrow down the different options available to you. At the end of the day, it's all about finding the right chalk to fit your needs, and every climber is different. Feel free to browse our friction labs chalk options.




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