Hand warmers are usually small pouches or pockets that are disposable. They’re traditionally rectangular shaped and a few inches wide and about double the length of the width. Most of the time, they are disposable; you activate them and use them for the duration of your needs and throw them away when you’re finished with the activity.
While you can find hand warmers that are designed to soothe joint and muscle pain, we’ll primarily talk about the hand warmers used for outdoor activities and those that can be put inside winter gloves. You will also learn how to use hand warmers in gloves properly.
Before you learn how to use hand warmer in gloves, it is imperative that you know about the various styles and options available.
Most people are familiar with air-activated and supersaturated solution hand warmers. The air-activated warmers use iron cellulose, activated carbon, water, salt, and vermiculite (water reservoirs) to produce heat using exothermic oxidation, which happens when the iron is exposed to air. They can work for up to 10 hours, though heat dissipation is common after the first few hours of use.
The supersaturated solution is a hand warmer that is recharged by putting the product in near-boiling water until all the contents are uniform. You allow the concoction to cool and put it in the gloves when it is cool enough.
Heat release happens by flexing the small metal disk inside the hand warmer. It activates the nucleation center, which initiates crystallization. The heat then dissolves the salt within the crystallization water, and the heat is released when crystallization occurs.
While the earlier-mentioned versions are the most popular, you can also find charcoal, battery, and lighter-fuel versions.
Lighter-fuel warmers use petroleum naphtha or lighter fluid; they can be reused as often as needed by adding more lighter fluid to the mix. Most models generate heat up to a whole day, depending on the brand and conditions. However, most people do not use them for winter sports and outside activities because it is cumbersome to carry lighter fluid with you everywhere you go.
Battery-operated warmers use heating devices with electric resistive properties to convert the electrical energy from the battery. These warmers usually work up to six hours and can produce heat up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
They are rechargeable, and you charge the hand warmers with any main power supply or from the included USB power supply. They work exceptionally well, but it can be a challenge to pack them in a carry-on bag or suitcase if you plan to travel to your destination by airplane.
Charcoal hand warmers are the last in the series, and they require a special case to burn the charcoal. They last up to six hours and become hot enough to warm the hands without burning them.
Usually, the case has felt on the outside and includes items that can’t produce heat but rather, spreads heat. It works when the ends of the charcoal are struck and quickly extinguished to create the hot charcoal. A smoldering stick is put inside the case to keep it going.
Now that you know all the types of hand warmers available, you should know that we’re going to focus primarily on air-activated hand warmers and chemical-solution hand warmers.
Air-activated warmers require you to unseal the package, which exposes the contents to oxygen. The packet contains a variety of chemicals, and they all comingle with each other and oxygen to produce heat safely. You can shake or rub the packet to improve circulation of the materials inside, which in turn increases the temperature.
However, you should not use these products directly on the skin because you can get burned. Also, these products aren’t usually re-usable; once the heating has stopped, they must be thrown away.
The second-mentioned hand warmer (supersaturated solution) uses crystallization to produce the heat. They are reusable but don’t last as long.
You just flex the small metal strip or disk inside the packet to activate the sodium acetate in water, allowing crystal growth. As it crystallizes, it releases heat. Just boil water and throw in the unopened packet to dissolve the crystals once more and flex the metal strip when you need warmth again.
Now that you understand what hand warmers are and what ingredients are used to help them heat up and keep the hands warm, it is imperative to know that you should not put the hand warmer product directly on your skin. You can use the warmer on other parts of the body, such as the feet, legs, and anywhere you feel pain.
The goal is to put the product in or on something and put that on the skin. Most people use hand warmers in conjunction with gloves.
You can purchase gloves that have pockets or zippered areas suitable for hand warmers. If your current pair of gloves doesn’t offer that feature, you can also wear a thin pair of magic gloves, put the hand warmer on it, and put another pair of gloves over that.
The first step is to open the hand warmer package to let the air touch the product, activating the iron-oxide compounds inside. You’ll notice that the warmers have an adhesive side.
Remove the tape and stick the hand warmer onto the first pair of gloves if you’re using two pairs. If you are putting the hand warmer inside the glove compartment designed for warmers, you do not need to remove the adhesive cover. Just slip the hand warmer into that compartment and seal it appropriately.
Some gloves don’t have a zipper on the outside of the hand. Instead, they may have a second pocket or space between the glove’s outer material and inner material toward the wrist. You can slide the hand warmer into this space and may or may not want to use the adhesive to keep it in place throughout your day.
With all the types of hand warmers available, using them in gloves is not rocket science. Nonetheless, make sure that you purchase hand warmers that are designed to last for the duration of your outside excursion or bring an extra set with you, just in case. That way, you can keep your hands toasty warm regardless of how long you’re going to be outside.