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Staying Warm with Chemistry – Hand Warmer Review

220px-Handwarmers Need a little extra help keeping fingers and toes warm on the coldest days? Hand and toe warmers can generate enough heat to make the difference between feeling comfortable or having stiff, cold extremities.

If you haven’t seen hand or toe warmers before, they are little packets that you remove from a plastic wrapping, shake around, and then stick them wherever you need some heat – inside a boot or glove, in a pocket, or some of the larger body warmers you can even use under your shirt against your back or abdomen (I usually still keep one layer of clothing between my skin and the warming packet, otherwise they can get too hot. Plus I don’t like to have them directly against my skin.)

So how do the warmers work, and how long do they last? The amount of time that heat is generated will depend on the brand and type of packet, but they have a range of 1-10 hours. Most of the ones I use have about a 4 hour time period that they create heat. The packets are activated by air and contain cellulose, iron, water, activated carbon, vermiculite (a silicate mineral) and salt. The iron oxidizes when exposed to air, and it is this reaction that produces the heat. They were originally developed by a Japanese chemical science company in 1975.

Besides their obvious use for keeping warm on cold days, warming packets can also be used to help ease sore muscles with a steady source of warmth. So the next time you are going to be outside for a long day at the barn, try out a pair of hand or toe warmers. You can find them just about anywhere, and for only a few bucks per packet, it is worth giving them a try and staying warm!



  1. By Maralee


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