How to use climbing chalk balls?

Chalk balls are small cotton balls filled with ordinary magnesium carbonate powder. Manufacturers typically put a finer, non-chunky grind of chalk in their balls to make it easier to apply the chalk to your fingers.

Chalk balls work exactly the same as ordinary loose chalk powder. Dab the ball on your fingers, a little chalk gets released, your hands stay dryer. The main advantage of chalk balls is that unlike loose chalk they don’t create dust clouds & prevent accidental spills.

The main purpose of chalk balls is to keep the gym clean & dust-free. And in that goal, they seem to succeed. Many gyms are switching away from loose chalk powder & chalk balls are often the gym-recommended alternative.

One interesting thing about this trend few people know is that according to research chalk balls actually do not reduce chalk dust in gyms nearly as much as banning powder chalk altogether and switching to liquid chalk.

The proper way to use a chalk ball is the following. Put a chalk ball in your chalk bag. If you are using a chalk-bucket put in a couple couple of balls. Don’t just put your chalk balls on the gym floor or mats. When you want to apply chalk to your hands you can take out the ball and roll the ball in your hands.

Use chalk balls only to apply chalk to your fingers, not the rock! It’s very tempting to use chalk balls to dry rock on wet days. Please don’t. If the conditions are not right, come back another day or pick a different climb. Dabbing the rock with chalk balls causes ugly chalk-bleached rock scars.

Generally speaking there are two kinds of chalk balls available on the market: refillable “chalk socks” and non-refillable chalk balls. Keep in mind that when you are going to use the refillable socks you want to fill it with a finer grind of chalk, either by buying fine chalk or crushing it up a little before putting it in the sock.

We found that refillable chalk socks actually don’t get used as much as traditional chalk balls. Filling them remains messy and you still need to deal with the mess of traditional chalk. That’s why we chose to carry the non-refillable kind at Chalk Rebels.

Chalk balls come in several sizes, from 40 grams mini balls to over 120 gram behemoths. The best size is the size that works best for you & that actually fits in your chalk bag. The larger balls are meant to be used in chalk buckets but we found it easier to dump in 2 or 3 balls instead of one big one. The smaller ones are easier to handle & are a better choice for most climbers. The ones we carry are typically around 60 grams.