What Are Chalk Balls?
Chalk balls are small bags made of a permeable or spongy substance that has been filled with powdered chalk and then sealed. They are little balls of cotton filled up with common everyday magnesium carbonate powder. Producers usually add less coarse, powdery grounded chalk in their cotton balls to make the application of the chalk on your fingers easier.
Chalk balls function almost the same as the common loose chalk powder. All you have to do is smudge the ball on your palms, a tiny bit of chalk is released out of the cotton ball and you can then rub them on your palms. The major selling point of a chalk ball is that they do not spill dust clouds and accidental chalk spills are prevented.
Chalk balls are usually utilized to keep the gym or workout area free of dust and chalk spills. As a result of this, many gymnasia now recommend in their guidelines that chalk balls be used during climbing workouts to minimize the amount of dust and time spent cleaning.
This seems to be better and works more effectively for gym areas. The proper method of applying chalk from a chalk ball is to put the ball in a chalk bag or about three or four balls (or even more) if you’re using a chalk bucket. It is safer and more conducive that way than leaving the chalk ball on the gym floor or mat. If you need to apply chalk to your hands, all you have to do is take out the ball from the bag or bucket and twirl the ball in your palms.
When To Use Chalk Balls
Chalk balls should be used mainly on the hands. When your hands are sweaty or your palms are moist and you need them to dry up. Use chalk balls only on your hands, palms, or fingers. Do not apply to any rock surface. Rocks can sometimes be moist especially on wet or rainy days and it could be tempting to use chalk balls to run the rocks to aid easy climbing. This is not safe. If the weather conditions have affected the rock to such an extent that it is not dry enough for climbing, it is more advisable to suspend climbing for that day or find another rock surface. Smudging rocks with chalk balls leads to ugly chalk bleached rock blotches and defects.
Types of Chalk Balls
There are about two major types of chalk balls, the refillable chalk balls, and the non-refillable chalk balls. The refillable chalk balls will require you to use a finer grind of chalk. You might need to either purchase one that has been finely ground or further crush the coarse chalk available at your disposal.
Refillable chalk balls are however rarely utilized by climbers especially at gym workouts. This is because filling the bags up could get sloppy and having to grind some chalk to fit properly into the chalk bag is not always worth it. For this reason, climbers prefer the non-refillable chalk balls.
The sizes of chalk balls vary. It is best to buy the one that suits you and suits your needs at every given point in time. The smaller balls are however easier to handle than the bigger balls but they also get exhausted faster than the bigger ones.
What Is Loose Chalk?
Loose chalk is simply a block of chalk that has already been grounded or broken. It varies from chalk that has just been split up to chalk that has been grounded into fine powder. It is finely grounded loose chalk that is usually put in a ball to make a chalk ball. The major advantage of loose chalk is that you only have to pour it into a bag or bucket without having to worry about packing it up in a small bag. However, you do not have much control over the texture of the chalk.
How Loose Chalk Is Used
Climbers store loose chalk in a bag or bucket (or anything like a pouch to hold the chalk). Before you climb, all you have to do is put one of your hands or both hands in a bag, fetch some chalk, rub it out on your palms, and pour back the excess chalk into the bag. Try as much as possible not to spill chalk on the floor. If after pouring into the bag you still see any loose particles of chalk on your hands, you can blow away the excess. This however should be very minimal.
Once you’re done, you would have a smooth layer of chalk coating your hands.
When Should You Use Loose Chalk?
Well, everyone’s body produces different amounts of moisture. So, you might need to apply more if you’re sweaty. However, it is important to apply before climbing or when you’re about to navigate a difficult curve or steep.
Chalk Balls vs Loose Chalk
Loose chalk is block chalk that has been broken up while a chalk ball is finely ground loose chalk in a cotton ball. It is easier to maintain gym hygiene with chalk balls, but this could also mean endangering rock surfaces and not having a proper dense palm layering or coating of chalk.
Choosing the one to use depends on the climber’s preference and type of climbing. While a chalk ball is suitable for indoor climbing, loose chalk is more suitable for outdoor climbing. Some climbers however complain about having to pat a cotton ball onto their hands multiple times when using the chalk and would rather go for the loose chalk.
Also, experienced climbers would generally make use of both. Chalk ball just before climbing, with a bag or pouch of loose chalk so that they can easily dip their hands and coat as they climb on the go.