liquid climbing chalk

liquid climbing chalkClimb­ing chalk is a neces­si­ty on a lot of crags, espe­cial­ly for those of us who find our­selves drenched in sweat once tem­per­a­tures rise above 80 degrees.

The prob­lem is that sweaty palms make for a poor grip. Reg­u­lar climb­ing chalk doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly do the trick for every­one and can slip right off your hands, so apply­ing a good base of liq­uid climb­ing chalk can real­ly help.

The prob­lem is, between $10 and $15 bucks, it’s seri­ous­ly wal­let-goug­ing over time. Let me let you in on a lit­tle secret: you can make your own for less than $5. That’s because there are only two ingre­di­ents nec­es­sary to make excel­lent liq­uid climb­ing chalk—regular climb­ing or gym­nas­tics chalk and some rub­bing alco­hol. Seri­ous­ly, that’s all you need.

Throw­ing it togeth­er isn’t exact­ly rock­et sci­ence, thankfully
If you’re prone to buy­ing blocks of climb­ing chalk, take a brick of that pow­dery good­ness and smash it to bits. You want to get it as fine as pos­si­ble to avoid mak­ing a lumpy goo that resem­bles a steam­ing pile of bird poo. Nobody likes rub­bing bird crap on their hands or any­thing that looks remote­ly looks like it.

Next, whip out the rub­bing alco­hol. There are two impor­tant things to remem­ber here. First, look for a bot­tle that uses 70 per­cent iso­propyl alco­hol (IPA) and not one that says 99 per­cent. Water is what’s going to cause the chalk to dis­solve, while the alco­hol allows it to evap­o­rate. Thus you’ll want more water in your rub­bing alco­hol than what a 99 per­cent solu­tion pro­vides. You’ll use less over­all if you go with the 70 per­cent, and it’s cheaper.

Sec­ond, you want to have a chalk to alco­hol ratio of 2:1, mean­ing for every cup of chalk you use you’ll want have half as much rub­bing alco­hol. If you use two cups chalk, you’ll use one cup of rub­bing alcohol.

Now mix those two suck­ers togeth­er thor­ough­ly in a con­tain­er and you’re all set! It’s that easy.

Some things to watch out for
There’s one more thing to keep in mind. When mak­ing the chalk, you prob­a­bly don’t want to make any­more than you think you’ll use on a sin­gle climb­ing trip, and make it the same day if you can. Unless you’re stor­ing it in a super tight air-sealed con­tain­er it’s going to dry up pret­ty fast. Since it takes all of one minute to make, there’s no need to poten­tial­ly waste it.

Once you reach the crag, slather a small bit on your palms and pre­pare to climb. Liq­uid chalk is best used as a base lay­er for reg­u­lar climb­ing chalk to help ward of sweat. It’s also great for use with sun­screen or bug spray that makes your hands slip­pery or sticky, too.

One last thing to keep in mind is that liq­uid chalk can come with a nasty side effect. If your hands have a ten­den­cy to crack, you prob­a­bly want to avoid it alto­geth­er. The alco­hol and chalk com­bo will def­i­nite­ly dry you out and leave your paws look­ing like the desert ground of Death Val­ley for weeks.