How to use climbing chalk blocks

Block of climbing chalk

If you’re going to buy climbing chalk powder this is probably going to be a good option for you. Chalk comes in big bags today but for a long time it used to come in these paper-wrapped square cubes.

Chalk blocks simply are blocks of compacted chalk. Chemically all chalk is pretty much the same so what you choose comes down to preference. Some like smooth-as-silk very fine chalk powder, others like crunch chalk.

Technically speaking the finer grinds work better than the more chunky ones because what you want on your fingers is a thin layer of chalk covering your fingers and no more. This gives the best friction.

The nice thing about chalk blocks is that you can grind them up to the consistency you like. If you like chunkier bits of chalk really the only thing you need to do after purchase is break off some chunks and put ‘em in your chalk bag.

If you want a finer grind you can go all techno and put it in an electrical coffee grinder or go low-tech: just put some chunks in a ziplock bag and smash that shit until you get the grind you want.

With chalk blocks it’s a good idea to have some kind of plastic box or bag to keep the leftovers. You’re probably not going to want to put the whole block in your chalk bag and without some kind of container to hold the leftovers you’r going to get a white mess on everything.

Put it in a bag before you crush it to the texture you like. If you are going to buy chalk powder this is probably the kind you want to buy. Since difference in chalks is mostly texture, you can just crush it up to the texture you like.

Block chalk is the oldest and cheapest form of chalk for climbers. It’s a great budget option and if you’re a traditionalist or hipster block chalk may just be your thing! This is the form of chalk John Gill brought to climbing from the gymnastics world in the 50s.

Whatever kind of chalk you choose, use it in moderation. Don’t smear that shit all over our beautiful rocks. Respect the climbers that come after you. You need far less than you think. And after you’re done climbing don’t forget to brush your holds!

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