HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR BEST HAND WARMERS
DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS
There is no “best” hand warmer because each person has their own needs.
This is why determining your needs is very important before you start your research.
Here are some questions that will help you determine your needs:
- Are you going to use it for every day in the cold season or just for a weekend?
- Are you going to use it all day or just for the first few hours, before your body warms up?
- Do you prefer a lot of warmth or just a chic and stylish option with less heat?
- How much can you invest to solve this problem?
- Are volume and weight important to you?
- Other than heating, are you going to use your hand warmer for first aid, pain relievers, or drying?
WHAT DETAILS TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOU SEARCH FOR THE BEST HAND WARMER?
After determining your needs, here are the things to consider before purchasing your hand warmer:
- Is the method used to generate the heat is safe for my health?
- For electric hand warmers, how much power (mAh) does the battery have?
- Does the hand warmer generate heat in both sides or only one?
- Is the shape of the hand warmer ergonomic or not?
ELECTRIC, CATALYTIC OR CHEMICAL HANDWATERS
CHEMICAL HAND WARMERS
Chemical hand warmers are fiber pockets that contain a mixture of cellulose, iron powder, water, carbon, and salt, which transforms when opened and exposed to air to produce heat. This is called an exothermic reaction.
This reaction is not instantaneous, it generally takes a few minutes to provide us with the required energy (heat).
The heat from this type of hand warmer can last from one hour up to 10 hours.
- Easy to use
- If the packages tear during use, they may damage your gloves or clothing.
CATALYTIC HAND WARMERS
Catalytic hand warmers provide heat by using lighter fluid to create an extremely slow reaction.
The fluid used here is petroleum naphtha.
When these hand warmers don’t heat up anymore, just fill them up. However, be sure to only use petroleum naphtha for direct reuse.
This type of hand warmer can have a long duration of heat-releasing action, ranging from 12 to 24 hours.
- The liquid that is used is easily found at service stations
- They have a chic and elegant look
- The duration of action of the product
- They can be used directly after filling with naphtha
- Naphtha is not odorless and may inconvenience the user
Rechargeable hand warmers use a specific process to generate heat from electrical energy, too complex to explain here.
But what is important for us is that it works by plugging it into a wall outlet or by USB on a computer, to recharge it during the night for example. It provides us with gentle warmth during the day and has different levels of settings. In addition, it also serves as a “power bank” to recharge your phone, a small detail that you will not find in other types of hand warmers.
The heat production time of this type of hand warmer varies depending on many parameters, such as the battery power (mAh) or the climate in which you use them. Indeed, batteries lose their efficiency and last less in an environment where the temperature remains low.
- Do not require additional purchase
- No smell
- Can be used as a “power bank”
- Sensitive to shocks and humidity
- Use a power source that is not readily available in nature
- Short-term heat production compared to other types
- Charging this type takes several hours
DISPOSABLE OR REUSABLE WARMERS
If you are going to use them occasionally, like for a weekend skiing, for example, disposable hand warmers are a good investment, as they are inexpensive and thanks to their compact shape they can be easily slipped into your gloves, pocket, or your ski boots.
In addition to that, they do not require special precautions for use and are the lightest of the hand warmers presented.
For everyday use, reusable hand warmers (electric and catalytic) are a worthwhile investment, because if they cost more, on the other hand, you’re only going to buy them once.
For this type of hand warmer, look for the most durable category, so as not to throw them away after just one or two uses.
Usually, rechargeable hand warmers produce less heat than other types, which use chemical reactions or gasoline.
What degree of temperature should I look for?
The ideal temperature is between 38 ° C and 54 ° C. If you heat beyond that, you may burn yourself, and below that, the temperature will not be sufficient to warm you.
There is no exact heat production time for each type of hand warmer, but here are the approximate times.
For rechargeable hand warmers, the heat can last between 2 and 7 hours.
For chemical hand warmers, it lasts approximately 6 to 12 hours.
For catalytic hand warmers, it provides heat for approximately 8 to 20 hours.
Be careful, only take these times as indicative times. Remember to check the heat production time of each product before buying it.
OTHER USE OF HAND WARMERS
If you think hand warmers are only used to warm your hands or feet, you are wrong, because they have several other uses, such as drying wet socks or boots; they can also warm your sleeping bag if the night gets colder.
You can even use them as a massage accessory after a long day of walking.
Apart from direct use on your body, you can use them to prevent loss of charge in your batteries. Indeed, the cold accelerates the loss of charge of your lithium-ion batteries, even before their use.
For your winter hikes, these packs can help prevent your food and water from freezing.
OTHER TIPS TO STORE HEAT
The way you dress also affects your body heat.
- Dress in three layers, and choose a fabric that wicks moisture, especially for the layer in contact with your skin.
- For socks, opt for a pair of high-quality wool.
- For food, avoid simple carbohydrates that digest quickly and opt for snacks that are high in protein or fat, such as a sandwich with whole wheat bread and peanut butter or cheese.
- Avoid alcohol at all costs, it lowers your temperature and dehydrates you.
- My final tip is to avoid getting your clothes wet, especially the inner layer which is in direct contact with your skin.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ARE THE HAND WARMERS SAFE TO USE?
Dr Danielle R. Bajakian, a vascular surgeon at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said she has no problem with these accessories because they are designed to be used on the skin only for short periods of time.
So if you carefully and scrupulously follow the instructions for use, you will not have any problem with the use of these hand warmers.
WHERE CAN I PLACE MY HAND WARMERS TO USE IT PROPERLY?
Placing a hand warmer directly in contact with your skin is not always recommended, as they can quickly get very hot or burn you before you can remove them, for example during activity.
So when you buy your gloves, look for a pair that has a special hand warmer pocket. They are often found on the back of gloves.
Otherwise, you can put them between your gloves and your inner gloves.
Apart from these places, you can place them in a pocket.
The main thing is to avoid as much as possible that they are in direct contact with the skin. If absolutely necessary, you can place them directly on your skin, but do this with maximum caution.
CAN I USE HAND WARMERS IN MY BOOTS?
It is clear that here we are talking about chemical hand warmers, which are compact.
Even though several manufacturers are trying to create more compact chemical hand warmers to be easily placed in your boots and heat your toes, I recommend that you opt for toe warmers or heated insoles, specially dedicated for this use.
I prefer the second option, because the new sole will replace the old one, and it won’t warp your shoes.
DO DISPOSABLE HAND WARMERS HAVE A LIMITED LIFETIME?
Yes, disposable hand warmers have an expiration date.
In general, don’t store them for more than a year as they may lose their ability to warm you up.
ARE CHEMICAL HAND WARMERS TOXIC TO THE ECOSYSTEM?
I’m not totally sure, but I don’t think so, as they contain components like powdered iron which is a natural mineral. The most disastrous thing about using these chemical hand warmers is that people throw them all over the place after using them.
So if you want to act for the environment, only throw them in the trash!