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Useful Gadgets to Keep Hands and Feet Warm in Winter

Updated on June 18, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Warming up in front of an open fire.
Warming up in front of an open fire. | Source

Cosy Fingers and Toes Make You Feel Better

Most of us manage to stay warm in winter by wearing several layers of clothing. But trying to keep your feet and hands warm can be difficult. Too many layers (like extra socks or gloves) make doing normal tasks awkward.

Fingers and toes are at the outermost edge of your body’s circulatory system (your own central heating) and so furthest from the 'boiler'. This is why they are more likely than other parts of the body to feel cold and cause you discomfort.

This could be either a water-filled container like a hot-water bottle, or a something filled with heated solid matter, e.g. a microwavable wheat-bag or beanbag.

The problem with these age-old methods is that you need an immediate source of heat or power to warm up the hot bottle or bag. You may need to warm your cold hands when you're miles away from home in a snow-filled landscape or when your car has broken down miles from the nearest gas station.

Here are some simple, cheap gadgets that can be kept with you and they'll be good to go when your hands and feet need a boost of heat.

Four Useful Pocket-Sized Feet and Hand Warmers

1. Single Use Hand and Feet Warmers
2. Reusable Chemically Activated Heat Warmers
3. Battery Operated or Rechargeable Electric Gadgets
4. Lighter Fuel Hand Warmers

1. Single Use Hand and Feet Warmers

Single use warmer pouches consist of two chemicals that are inert (stable and non-reactive) until they're mixed together. They are packed separately in sealed compartments within a larger cover. To activate the pack, you simply break the seal between the two compartments and an exothermic chemical reaction occurs. Exothermic is a scientific term that means heat is produced as a by-product of the chemicals mixing together.

There are many commercially produced single use warmers available, for example the Hot Hands brand which makes hand warmers and toe warmers. These are convenient to use and cost less than a dollar each. You can also make DIY single use hand warmers using Calcium Chloride and water. The video below shows you how.

DIY Instant Hand Warmers

2. Reusable Chemically Activated Heat Warmers

If you're likely to use hand or feet warmers on a regular basis then it's cheaper to buy reusable ones (and better for the planet.) Reusable chemically activated warmers work on the same principle as described above, i.e. an exothermic chemical reaction is used to produce heat as a result of a liquid being turned into a solid.

Different chemicals are the basis of these reusable, more environmentally-friendly versions. A solution of sodium acetate crystallizes into a solid producing 130 degrees Fahrenheit in 5 seconds. Activation is carried out by flexing or bending a small metal disc within the pack. The sodium acetate is returned to its liquid form by boiling it in a pan of water for 10 minutes. The video below demonstrates one of these being activated.

Review of EZ Reusable Hand Warmers

3. Battery Operated or Rechargeable Electric Gadgets

If you don't like the idea of carrying chemicals around in your bag, then you may prefer battery operated hand and feet warmers. These are a similar size to the chemical versions and have the benefit of having the option of variable heat levels (usually high or low heat). They can be connected to a USB charger of a conventional wall plug so they are convenient for travelers.

You can also get socks (for example Lectra Wader Sox) designed to keep your feet toasty warm inside wellington boots or similar. They have a tiny pocket in which you put a small cell battery. The warmth is spread through the sock fabric like a foot shaped electric blanket. They are ideal for outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, hiking, and sporting events.

4. Lighter Fuel Hand Warmers

The Zippo brand, well known for making lighters also makes a hand warmer device. It works on the same principle as its cigarette lighters. It consists of a catalytic burner which needs lighter fuel for combustion. It is a small metal container that fits inside your glove or pocket. It is reusable and refillable. It provides a safe enclosed real fire and depending on which size you use, it provides heat for up to twelve hours.

Have you tried hand and foot warming gadgets?

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Other Uses for Heat Warmers

Although heat warmers are designed to be put inside gloves or shoes they can be used for many other things. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Use them to dry out wet walking boots overnight. Put one in each damp boot before you go to bed. Your boots will be warm and dry when you wake up next morning.

2. Place a couple of warmers in the foot area of your sleeping bag when camping outdoors. They will help keep your feet warm overnight.

3. Use them as a heat pack to soothe sore muscles and aching joints.

4. Warm up a pair of cold slippers with a heat pack before you put them on your bare feet.

5. And I'm sure your pet cat or dog would love a warmer pack placed in their bed in wintertime too!


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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Love the idea for drying wet boots and for warming sleeping bags.

      Useful hub packed with all the info we need!


    • WritingInRichmond profile image

      WritingInRichmond 2 years ago

      This is great information. The DIY Instant Hand Warmers are going to be on my list of projects to get ready for the cold weather. Also, the EZ Heat Reusable Hand Warmer are awesome! Didn’t know these existed … will be swinging by REI to get some. Thanks again. Voted up!

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