Even the firmest hands could use the best liquid chalk. Hands get sweaty when you do calisthenics, that’s just a fact. If you’re not working up a sweat during your workout, you’re probably doing it wrong. But there’s the conundrum: You need to grip things with your hands in order to work out in the first place. Time to add a dab of gym chalk to those slippery hand palms and get busy again. But times have changed, gymnastics has modernized into calisthenics. So too the use of chalk products has modernized into a wide selection of different chalks. With a range of advantages over using regular old dry chalk and also over its alternatives like gloves or tape, we’ll explain why you should be using liquid chalk as well. Of course, we’ve also listed the best liquid chalk products we use ourselves on a daily basis.
What is Liquid Chalk?
Put simply, liquid chalk is chalk suspended in a volatile liquid. Now before you think that means the tube will explode when shaken, volatile here simply means that it evaporates at low temperatures. Usually this means a form of alcohol which, once exposed to the air will quickly dry out and leave the chalk behind. Many of these chalks have extra additives which aid in evaporation, dryness, longevity of the product or make the product more pleasant to the touch or smell. The contents of a typical liquid chalk are as follows:
- Magnesium Carbonate (commonly known as “chalk”)
- Alcohol (isopropanol or ethanol being most common)
- Additives like:
- An additional drying agent preventing sweating
- A thickener to give it a gel or cream-like texture
- A mild adhesive to make the chalk stick longer (which washes off easily)
- Perfumes to mask the scent of alcohol
Why use Liquid chalk?
Compared to traditional dry chalk, liquid chalk holds a number of major advantages. They produce less mess since the liquid form prevents the inevitable clouds of dust forming from dry chalk. Liquid chalk is also longer lasting, especially with an adhesive additive which keeps the chalk sticking onto your hands more firmly. Most find the chalk, which comes in a tube, to be easier to store with less mess. A drying agent added to the chalk means your hands will be even dryer than with normal, dry chalk. To sum it up, why you should use liquid chalk:
- Superior grip because more chalk adheres to your hands
- Long lasting grip because the chalk sticks to your hands for longer.
- Less mess while applying the chalk to your hands
- Less mess while storing the chalk
We’re not adverse to sticking to traditional. If it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it is our usual mindset. There’s still nothing wrong with dry chalk or a chalk ball. That puff of white dust can even be quite satisfying as you prepare yourself for a photogenic moment. But the best liquid chalk provides you with a lot of advantages in addition to also being chalk.
Advantages of Using Chalk
Our hands are not evolved to handle many of the materials which are commonplace today. In nature there are no plastics or smooth, polished metals. But we make use of these two materials in almost everything these days. Calisthenics equipment is no exception. Steel and plastic are cheap and durable. But our hands simply don’t have the surface texture to grip these materials with enough friction. The result is excessive slippage and sweat accumulation. This is probably why most athletes, including Olympic athletes prefer wooden gymnastic rings over any other material. Gripping natural wood is what our hands were meant to be doing, after all. But some calisthenics equipment can’t be made of wood. Steel or plastics are the preferred materials for their added tensile strength.
Chalk can give you that added grip you need. Chalk and liquid chalk make your hands have more friction and become less slippery by absorbing sweat. They make the use of gymnastic tape of gloves redundant and allow you to have direct contact with the equipment you’re using.
That direct touch is important to many calisthenics practitioners. Directly touching the surface gives you a much greater sense of whether or not your grip is correct. It also gives you a tactile sensation of when the muscles in your hands will stop cushioning your grip, signaling to your brain that your grip is firm enough to support your weight.
Types of Chalk
Broadly speaking there are 3 types of chalk available. These are dry chalk which come in blocks or pellets, a chalk ball containing powdered chalk and finally the most recent innovation, liquid chalk. We’ll explain all three briefly.
Dry Chalk (block or pellets)
The old-school gymnastic chalk comes in the form of a block, or sometimes pellets. You rub your hands along the block almost like a bar of soup. The abrasive effect of your hands rubbing against the soft block gives off chalk onto your hands. Dry chalk is usually the cheapest option you have when it comes to buying a single product. This does not mean it’s necessarily the cheapest in the long run. Dry chalk rubs off (literally) quite easily and you’ll be recaulking your hands with chalk very frequently.
A chalk ball is a cloth ball filled with finely powdered chalk. You dab the ball onto each hand palm a few times and this coats them in chalk. It is a quick and less abrasive way of applying the chalk than with a block of dry chalk. Although many chalk balls are refillable, they tend to run out quickly. They also produce the most mess on the floor and in the air when in use. Drop them on the floor by accident and you’ll create a right mess of it.
As we’ve previously described, liquid chalk is the newest innovation in this area. The best liquid chalks last you a long time when properly stored on top of all the advantages we already listed above. The product itself is usually more expensive than dry chalk or a chalk ball. But something can be said for how quickly you use up dry chalk (whether in block of in powder form) compared to its liquid counterpart.
Liquid Chalk vs Normal Chalk
In summary, we firmly believe in liquid chalk bringing a lot of advantages over normal chalk. We’ve put the advantages and disadvantages of both types against one another.
5 Best Liquid Chalk Products Available
Our article would not be complete without our pick of best liquid chalk products for you. As avid calisthenics practitioners we use these chalks on an almost daily basis. We would only use the best liquid chalk for ourselves so that is what we’re suggesting to you as well. In no particular order our 5 best liquid chalks are:
#1 Premium Liquid Chalk from GORNATION
Ever present calisthenics giant, GORNATION has its own liquid chalk. Their premium chalk is easier on the hands and dries out remarkably quickly. The hands will be dry in no time and ready for the next work out. GORNATION’s chalk lasts a long time, only requiring a fresh coat between different work outs and frequently surviving multiple sets of the same work out. GORNATION’s formula includes a low alcohol content which may feel better to hands which are naturally dry to start with. After use, the GORNATION premium chalk washes off easily. If you use our promo-code you will receive 10% off on your purchase at GORNATION.
#2 Liquid Chalk Extra Strong from Pullup & Dip
For that extra strong, extra dry grip we recommend the Liquid Chalk Extra Strong by Pullup & Dip. This chalk sets quickly and forms a firm and dry coating over your hands. The extra strong formula makes this chalk particularly popular among climbers who are entirely dependent on their grip for safety. Even when tethered, losing your grip as a climber could still mean smacking against the climbing wall or the rock face. For calisthenics this means you can trust this extra strong chalk to hold up during even the most intense and sweaty sessions.
#3 Pro-Grip Liquid Chalk from BarManiaPro
For a non-stick alternative, the Pro-GRIP Liquid Chalk from BarManiaPro is our go-to option. It is less sticky and when dry resembles a typical dry chalk more. We use this chalk in spring and summer when we take our calisthenics outside. Stickier chalks tend to accumulate sand and other debris when working out in the outdoors. The Pro-Grip chalk dries quickly and leaves hardly any mess when applying. Of course, it does cause more dust on the equipment but this is easy to wipe off. Similarly, a quick rinse under warm water will clean your hands after your calisthenics session.
#4 Liquid Chalk from StreetGains
The low alcohol content of the StreetGains’ liquid chalk makes it easier on the hands, much like GORNATION’s chalk. This means your hands are less prone to drying out with sustained use. What’s great about StreetGains is the fact that even when dry, the chalk leaves no residue on the floor, equipment or clothing. It provides excellent grip and washes off easily with water and soap. When you’re in a gym where a powdery mess is frowned upon, you should bring the StreetGains chalk. It leaves far less mess and comes in a handy, discrete tube (not saying you should smuggle it in when chalk is not allowed at all though).
#5 Pro Grade Liquid Chalk from SPORTMEDIQ
If we need professional results while doing weightlifting, we turn to the Pro Grade Liquid Chalk from SPORTMEDIQ. It is the industry-standard among professional weightlifters, including those doing calisthenics. This chalk is easy to use and needs on average less product per single use. This is the reason why weightlifters turn to SPORTMEDIQ since they tend to make grab and release their weights many times over in a single session. In that light, the Pro Grade chalk leaves hardly any residue and what dust does collect tends to stay on the equipment used. It can be easily wiped off after use.
How To Use Liquid Chalk
Using liquid chalk is the easiest thing in the world. It’s like applying a hand cream except you only apply it on the inside of your hand. Put around a dime sized dab of chalk in the middle of one hand palm, put both hands together and rub the chalk all around both palms and across the insides of your fingers. You don’t need a lot of chalk to achieve a good coat and using too much may even result in the chalk crusting and falling off. Here are some more hints and tips for you when using liquid chalk:
- Apply a thin, even spread.
- Let dry for at least 20 to 30 seconds to allow the alcohol to evaporate and the chalk to set
- Reapply as needed
- Be courteous to your fellow gym users and wipe clean any equipment you have used
Make Liquid Chalk Yourself
You can make your own liquid chalk if you feel so inclined. It is a bit messy and your results as well as your milage may vary. You will need two ingredients for this:
- Dry chalk in block form
- Alcohol (denaturalized)
Crush he chalk block up into tiny fragments. Do this in a large container because it will get dusty and absolutely everywhere. Once you got it as small as possible, use a spoon to crush the remaining bits to a powder. It doesn’t have to be absolutely fine but as small as you can get it. Next, siphon the chalk powder into the container you’re going to store it in. This has to be an airtight container (we found a small bottle suffices).
Next pour in the alcohol at a 2 to 1 ratio chalk to alcohol (so for every 2 oz. Chalk, 1 oz. Alcohol.). Stir well with a long spoon or the back of a spoon or anything else that will fit the mouth of your container. The texture will be like that of toothpaste. If it is too watery, keep adding more chalk or vice versa if it is too dry, add a little more alcohol. To store, keep the bottle dry and sealed airtight.
Frequently Asked Questions & Alternatives to Using Chalk
As usual, we haven’t been able to fit every single topic into one article regarding liquid chalk and chalk in general. We’ve added them, along with other frequently asked questions here.
Yes, it definitely is a good product to use. In fact, many gyms are no longer allowing the use of dry chalk. They don’t want to be left with the mess everywhere and don’t want to inconvenience other gym users with lingering clouds of chalk. So, getting in the habit of using the best liquid chalk is a good thing.
You can buy liquid chalk in convenient places like Walmart or online. Your choice of product at a place like Walmart will be limited and often not of the highest quality or the best priced. You can find a broader selection online and often cheaper than when going to a brick-and-mortar store. Of course, this may cause you to get lost in the many choices available to you. To make it easier for you, we’ve already selected the 5 best liquid chalk products in this article, coming at no extra cost or even at a discount to you.
Dry chalk is still a good product but liquid chalk offers a number of advantages over dry chalk. Liquid chalk does everything traditional dry chalk can do since it is also chalk. But because it is liquid it is also less messy and ingredients can be added which make it even better. It also lasts longer on your hands and provides you with superior grip compared to dry chalk.
Liquid chalk lasts longer on your hands, requiring fewer applications of a new coat while doing your calisthenics. The tube itself usually runs out faster than a block of chalk. You can drastically reduce the longevity of your chalk by not properly closing the tube. This will lead to a crusted opening, allowing more air in to further dry out the chalk. So always make sure the mouth of the tube is clean and that the tube is closed properly!
Popular alternatives to using chalk to enhance your grip are gymnastic gloves and gymnastic tape. These provide for a more abrasive or adhesive layer between your hand and the equipment you are using.