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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

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DIY

DIY | Climbing Balm Recipe

After a good climbing session my hands definitely feel like they need a spa break, and a beer or three. The thought of having to hold anything at that moment in time fills me with fear, especially when I can still feel the burn from pulling on holds, and I’m mourning the loss of my fingertips. I imagine there is a debate on whether to moisturise your hands after climbing or not. Does it help, or does it ruin the calluses? I guess it’s down to a personal preference and I think it’s nice to be nice to your hands. There are plenty of climbing balms out on the market to help soothe these pains. The good ones are around the £6 – £10 mark, which I guess wouldn’t break the bank, but why pay that when you can make your very own?

DIY Climbing Balm

hand balm

Equipment
– Heat proof bowl and pan for double boiling
– Spoon or something for stirring
– Moulds, jar, tub or container to store balm

So to make a solid balm the most important ingredient is bees wax. There’s bound to be somewhere near your home that sells it, which is nice because it’s naturally made by your local bees, but if not then Ebay is your friend. Some kind of oil is needed too for moisturising, you can use olive, avocado, coconut, or whatever oil you have in your cupboards. I’m fairly sure you could stop there and it would make a decent, solid balm. On the other hand the list is kind of endless for what you can add in like essential oils, herbs, dried petals etc. The recipe below is a pretty basic antiseptic one, which I chose as it is extra effective on cuts and grazes. Just remember to have equal parts of everything, and 1 drop of essential oil for every 2g/ml.

Ingredients
– Shea butter – 25g
– Bees wax – 25g
– Tea tree oil – 12 drops
– Olive oil – 25ml

1. Fill the pan 1/4 of the way with water and bring to the boil. When it’s boiling, reduce the water to a simmer and fit the bowl into the pan. The bottom of the bowl should not reach the water. Add the Shea butter and bees wax and let them melt, stirring occasionally.

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2. It takes about 10 – 15 mins, but once the butter and wax have melted together, take it off the heat and add the olive oil and tea tree oil, gently mix it all together.

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3. Quickly pour your mixture into the container/mould of your choice. I tried to make a wick with string for in the container to make it easier to remove from the tub, but as you can see it didn’t work. I think if it had something to strengthen the string it could be a option to get the balm out of the container in one piece. However, the silicone cupcake mould worked great to make a loose bar, so I recommend using these or something similar.

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4. If you get impatient and prod your balm before it has set like I did, you can heat it back up in the microwave if the container it’s in is safe to do so. It will liquefy again and you can fix it back up. When it has cooled down for about 20 minutes, you can speed up the setting process by popping your balm in the fridge for another 20 minutes.

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5. Once it feels firm and has completely set, you’re good to take your creation out of the mould and marvel at what you’ve made.

I found that you only need to use a little bit of this balm as it starts to melt on contact, and after about 5-10 mins it has all soaked in leaving a lasting feel of moisture. The loose bar is easier to use than the broken pieces, but they both get the job done and make your hands feel great.

Let me know if you try this and what ingredients you use!

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Climbing Hacks

Like life hacks but specifically for climbing to make things a little easier and cheaper. I posted a short video on Instagram and Twitter of me using hair ties for finger exercises and it got a lovely response, so I thought I’d share some more…

  1. You can buy a pack of soft bristle toothbrushes to brush climbing holds in the gym if the owners are okay with it, this is way cheaper than paying for a single boar hair one.
  1. To stretch your synthetic climbing shoes you can stuff them with some fabric like an old T-shirt or fluffy socks. Make sure the shoes are filled right up and bulging, then heat them up with a hair dryer until the whole shoe feels warm. Quickly take the fabric out, put them on, and let the shoes cool down on your feet. This will help the shoes stretch and mould to your foot shape.
  1. If you can’t get your new climbing shoes on, you can put a plastic bag on your foot to help slide it into the shoe without degloving (or would it be desocking?) your poor heel/foot. Also, if you down-size like crazy in your climbing shoes you can combine tips 2 & 3, and maybe add some moisturiser/Vaseline to the inside of shoe by the pull tabs. Or just buy a size that fits…just saying.
  1. To look after your hands post climb, use any kind of hand cream and add a little blob of an antiseptic cream to it, like Germaline or Savlon. This will moisturise and heal your hands so they’re ready to go next time.
  1. Lastly as I mentioned before, hair ties or elastic bands can be used like little resistance bands to warm up/strengthen your fingers. You can also use a big lump of Blu-Tack or hard putty, and squeeze it in your palm to work your fingers the opposite way.

That’s all I’ve learnt for now but I’m sure I’ll find some more hacks along the way. Feel free to add yours in the comments too!

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