In fact, chalk is widely used in climbing and mountaineering. Magnesia reduces perspiration and moisture on the hands, improving grip and grip on holds.
Magnesia generally comes in powder or block form. Climbers apply magnesia to their hands by rubbing their hands into the powder or tapping the magnesia blocks into a thin layer. This creates a dry, grippy surface, enabling better traction on holds.
It should be noted that the use of magnesia may vary according to personal preference and the specific rules of the climbing site. Some sites may prohibit the use of chalk due to environmental concerns, the formation of deposits on rocks or other reasons. In such cases, alternatives such as liquid chalk or chalk balls can be used.
It is also important to note that magnesia must be used responsibly. Excessive use should be avoided to minimize environmental impact and preserve the quality of climbing holds.
In powder form
Magnesia is extremely popular with climbing and mountaineering enthusiasts. It is generally sold in large bags, but can be easily transported and used thanks to specially designed chalk bags.
We recommend choosing a chalk bag that allows you to fully immerse your hand in it, making it easy to apply chalk even when you're in the middle of a climb. This ensures convenient, trouble-free use, allowing reapplication of chalk to the hands to maintain optimum grip during activity. These chalk bags therefore offer an ideal combination of practicality and accessibility for climbers and mountaineers.
Liquid magnesia is actually classic magnesia mixed with alcohol. To use it, place a suitable quantity in the palm of your hand and spread it out as if you were washing your hands with soap. Within seconds, the alcohol evaporates, leaving only the magnesia powder on the skin. Using liquid magnesia offers several advantages when climbing, especially indoors. It's less volatile, which means you don't have to climb in a cloud of powder that can interfere with breathing.
However, during outdoor climbing sessions where you are in direct contact with the rock for long periods, it's better to opt for powdered magnesia. This will enable you to remove moisture from your hands by dipping them in turn into your magnesia bag. It's important to note that opening a liquid chalk bag requires the use of both hands, unlike powdered chalk, which can be used more easily with one hand. What's more, using liquid chalk can lead to more minor injuries. Indeed, its alcohol concentration tends to dry out the skin and make it more fragile, which can lead to the appearance of small cracks in finger joints after intense effort.
Is powdered magnesia controversial?
Despite its popularity with climbers, powdered magnesia is coming in for increasing criticism, particularly when used indoors. A simple visit to a climbing gym shows just how quickly powdered magnesia can invade the air, creating a particle-laden atmosphere. Although magnesium carbonate itself presents no health hazard, its fine particles can obstruct the respiratory tract, which can be uncomfortable for some people.
What's more, some brands of powdered magnesia used for climbing or mountaineering contain a small proportion of silica, a substance that can be harmful to health if its concentration exceeds 1% in the powder's composition. It is therefore important to check the composition of the magnesia you use.
Choosing to use powdered magnesia guarantees a good grip, even when you're several meters off the ground. However, this can leave a lot of residue on the holds, which can alter the climbing experience and leave a visible trace of your passage. This is why many bouldering gyms have decided to ban the use of powdered chalk.
Before choosing your climbing chalk, it's essential to check with the climbing gym you're visiting to find out what their rules and recommendations are regarding the use of powdered chalk. There are also other alternatives, such as liquid magnesia or the use of pof (rosin), which may be preferable in certain situations or environments.