It is time exposed the truth about rock climbing chalk
To avoid the immediate reaction some have about reading science, here is to the best of our abilities to explain it in simple terms. Climbing chalk is more or less the same, brand to brand. The major differences are the price and how dry the chalk you are receiving from the manufacturer. Every bag of chalk you buy will vary in the dryness. This should be at no surprise given that the purpose of chalk is to absorb moisture.
A real-world example of explaining what is meant by moisture is to consider your daily weather report. Often, you will see if there are clouds in the sky the likely-hood it is going to rain by a percentage or if you live in a humid place, relative humidity. This is more or less a measurement of how much vaporized water is in the atmosphere. Once it reaches 100%, you have rain or if its cold enough snow.
So whether you buy the really expensive bag of chalk, say $20 plus dollars (you could probably guess what company this price point refers to) or the cheapest, discounted bag of chalk you can find, the dryness, the feeling of the chalk, or the many other ways to describe chalk, its all the same once you open the bag of chalk. In an instant, the purity of the chalk is no longer the purity it was at the facility where the chalk was packaged or what the manufacturer claims the purity is.
The purity is going down! The chalk is doing exactly what your intentions of using it for, absorbing the moisture from your hands. However, when it is not dusted over your hands, it’s pulling moisture from the atmosphere instead. Then what does the average rock climber do next? Pour the chalk into your chalk bag. Now it is in an unsealed bag, being constantly exposed to the moisture in the air, decreasing its purity. As a direct result, decreasing the ability of the chalk to absorb moisture.
So what should you do? Well first off, I wouldn’t worry too much what brand of chalk to buy. At the end of the day, overtime your chalk will be less effective in absorbing moisture once it’s sitting in your chalk bag. The next question you should ask, well if it doesn’t matter what brand of chalk I should buy, what should I consider when buying a bag of chalk? In our eyes, that question is easy, Beta’s! Why, because we are not making questionable, immoral claims about our chalk. Our chalk is purchased directly from a chemical manufacturer in the purest state possible. Then to ensure the quality of our chalk, we place it in an extremely hot oven, then immediately packaged to be the driest chalk possible. Really, no different from any other chalk company out there. The one difference maker between Beta Chalk and others, is we donate $1 for every purchase to help protect our rock climbing lands, lobbying efforts to preserve mother nature and, help plant trees to restore the natural landscape and reduce the impact humans are having on climate change.
Now for the really juicy stuff! The nitty-gritty behind how your rock climbing chalk absorbs moisture from your hands:
Magnesium carbonate (MgCO3) is made up of magnesium and, carbonate. The magnesium (Mg) is a positively charged element. Carbonate is made of 2 oxygen and one carbon atom. The resulting charge of this ion is negative. When Mg and, CO3 bind together, it creates MgCO3 (This bonding occurs just like two magnets coming together with the negative and, positive end together). Once together, magnesium carbonate creates a polarizing field. Due to the configuration of the MgCO3, the end with the oxygen atoms creates a negative magnetic field while the magnesium side produces a positive magnetic field. This happens to be the same with water (H2O). The Hydrogen atom (H), has a positive charge and the oxygen (O) has a negative charge.
When magnesium carbonate interacts with a water molecule, there are two potential arrangements. The hydrogen is attracted to the negative charge of the oxygen atom from the magnesium carbonate or the magnesium atom is attracted to the negative charge of the oxygen on the water molecule. This interaction causes the magnesium carbonate allows to absorb the moisture on your hands and keep them dry.
Some people might pay attention to the purity of the magnesium carbonate they decide to purchase. This appears to be a very logical approach. The chalk with the highest purity of magnesium carbonate will be the most effective chalk when it comes to absorbing moisture from your hands. Unfortunately, there is a subtle flaw in this statement.