Liquid Chalk as Hand Sanitizer?

Given the current state of the world, many of us have been forced to change or adapt.  As gyms are reopening across the country, owners are looking for clean, safe alternatives to maintain gym cleanliness and improve member hygiene.  One question that continues to pop up is whether liquid chalk can be used as a hand sanitizer.  Given that most liquid chalks are alcohol based it's a logical question but the answer might not be so simple.

Hand sanitizer

What Is Hand Sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer (or Alcohol-Based Hand Rub - ABHR) is an effective and convenient way to clean hands and kill germs.  The antiseptic properties of alcohol destroys pathogens by breaking apart proteins, splitting cells, or interrupting the cell metabolism.  How much alcohol is in hand sanitizer?  It is most effective when the alcohol content is between 60-95% alcohol in solution with water.   

Can Liquid Chalk Be Used As Hand Sanitizer?

Many people have been asking, “what’s the alcohol content of liquid chalk then?”  Well, current market products range from less than 10% all the way to claims of up to 90%.  You may then be tempted to only want a liquid chalk that has at least 60% alcohol.  This two birds with one stone line of thinking makes some sense, but there are some fundamental issues with it:

1. Antiseptic Effectiveness:

Magnesium Carbonate (the primary ingredient in gym chalk) is an insoluble suspension in alcohol. The alcohol evaporates very quickly leaving that fresh, white chalk coating dried evenly on your hands.  Hand sanitizers, specifically gel sanitizers, are designed to dry slower in order to lengthen the contact time of the active microbe killing ingredient.  Liquid chalks, no matter the alcohol content, are not designed to sanitize. 

2. Intended Purpose:

The primary purpose of using liquid chalk is for grip strength.  This comes from the friction and moisture control properties of magnesium carbonate.  Liquid chalk with high alcohol content is going to have very little magnesium carbonate in it.  It also dries incredibly fast, so while the alcohol content may be in the recommended hand sanitizer range, the minimum exposure time to break down the microbes may not be met.  Lower alcohol content means more magnesium carbonate particles by volume and therefore, will be more effective for their intended use - grip strength.  

gym sanitizing kettlebells

Hand Washing Is Still King

Realistically, the best form of hygiene control in the gym is a combination of hand washing, hand sanitizer use, and sanitizing wipes for gym equipment.  For those owners and clients worried about sharing chalk in a common chalk container, it is recommended to use personal and individual chalk containers.  Liquid chalk is becoming a new favorite because it comes in convenient, portable bottles that can be carried easily throughout the gym without making a mess.  

It is tempting to be attracted to an all-in-one solution, but sometimes you get better results using products for their intended purpose.

If you are a gym owner getting ready to open up shop, check out our Gym Partner options and let us know if there's anything we can do to help!

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