Resin Considered Harmful in Chalk

I want to talk to you about resin, also called rosin, pof, colophonium, colophony or styrax benzoin. Some liquid chalk producers have started adding it to their formulas because it is a simple and cheap way to thicken the liquid chalk and to make the chalk stick better to your fingers. It's especially common to find resin in cheap "no name" liquid chalk brands or white-labeled liquid chalks offered by gyms under their own brand.

There’s one big disadvantage though: it tends to polish both natural and artificial climbing structures. Colophonium is a natural resin harvested from pine trees that gets soft when in contact with finger skin and then hardens again on climbing surfaces, effectively filling in the texture with a glassy substance that is super slick and hard to clean off.

Normal chalk is pretty easy to clean off from holds. Different approaches exist. Some gyms put their holds in dishwashers, other use high-pressure cleaners or dedicated high-tech washing stations that use ultrasound to clean the holds. Holds coated in resin are almost impossible to clean so it’s no wonder gyms have started to become extra wary of the current boom in liquid chalk use.

“Does it contain rosin?” is one of the first questions gyms ask us when we approach them about carrying our liquid chalk. The answer for us is: no. Our liquid chalk is pure and does not contain resin. Turns out that resin is especially hard to clean off from the newer large-volume holds made from PU plastic.

Resin has actually been used quite a lot in Fontainebleau. Old-school climbers will remember the little “pof” balls in rags carried by the locals. They were mostly used to clean the footholds and to make the shoes more sticky. And it works! It’s like adding glue to the problem. The big disadvantage is that once you start to use pof you need to keep using it. So better just not to start.

Photo by Alexandra Mirgheș

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