How Much Does Chalk Cost?
Climbing Chalk or magnesium carbonate is sold in bags, blocks, buckets & bulk. There are significant differences in prices depending on the volume you buy. At industrial scale, prices can go as low as less than one EUR per kg. But you need to buy one metric ton to get that price and storage tends to become a bit of a problem. Bought in large volumes, chalk is cheap, so cheap in fact that it is commonly used as filler material in e.g. the food industry.
Chalk blocks are your cheapest option & were originally marketed to gymnasts before being adopted by climbers. They sell at retail for 2 to 5 EUR per block. Chalk is also sold in big 1-5 kg buckets. Price per kg is 10 to 15 EUR per kg at this volume. These are mostly intended for gyms to refill the communal bucket. Some of these bulk suppliers provide chalk of slightly lower quality, mostly due to the presence of excess moisture in large volumes of chalk, so be warned that this option, albeit cheap, may not be the best option for climbers.
Besides gymnastics chalk, you can also buy climbing-specific chalk in bag sizes from 100g to 500g. These retail from 1-5 EUR per bag to over 20 EUR. At the highest end, so-called premium chalk, retails at prices as high as 60 EUR per kg. In our experience, this is not worth the expense since a similar effect can be achieved by simply baking ordinary chalk.
At the source magnesium carbonate is all roughly the same. Minor variations in purity can be observed depending on the intended use. Chalk is a pretty inert chemical & is safe for human consumption as either a food supplement or for adding to pharmaceuticals. The widespread use of magnesium carbonate in other industries is what pushes the price down for climbers.
Of all the sports users of chalk (gymnastics, pole dancing, CrossFit, etc ), climbers actually seem to pay the most. Climbers seem to be more picky about the source of their chalk & how their chalk feels. Two major factors define the feel of chalk: dryness and grind.
Minute amounts of moisture can be present in chalk. This is more prevalent in bulk amounts of chalk in so-called chalk buckets or communal pots of chalk some gyms provide. If you want to make sure your chalk is completely dry you can bake it.
The second factor that impacts feel is the grind. Grind can be coarse or very fine. Most climbers like medium grind but some prefer a fine dust-like grind. Differences in both grind and dryness should not justify an extra price when processed at industrial scale.
Photo by Burst