The Chemistry of Hand Warmers


Hand Warmers are little heat producing packets that you hold in your hand to warm up your figures I picked hand warmers because they have definitely saved my fingers more than once from getting frost bite at a football game or deep in the woods.

Composition of ...

  • Air-activated Hand warmers are made of
  • Iron Fe
  • Cellulose C6H10O5
  • Activated carbon C
  • Water H2O
  • Polypropylene sack C3H6
  • Salt NaCl
  • Vermiculite (MgFeAl)3(AlSi)4O10(OH)24H2O

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Hand warmers work as good as they do because of all the chemicals within all have a certain job, For example:

  • Iron and Oxygen react producing heat
  • Water is the medium in which the Iron and the Oxygen react
  • Salt is a catalyst through the water speeding up the reaction
  • Activated carbon acts like the charcoal in your grill and disperses the heat around the hand warmer
  • Vermiculite insulates the reaction in the hand warmer so it lasts longer
  • Cellulose takes up space/sometimes replaced with saw dust
  • Polypropylene sack keeps the moisture within the hand warmer

Chemistry's Role

The heat given off by an air activated Hand warmer is caused by a chemical reaction . The iron within the hand warmer mixes with the oxygen in the air and oxides, because it gives off heat when it reacts the process is known as an exothermic oxidation.4Fe(s)+302(g)-> 2Fe203(s)

Background Research

The disposable hand warmer was invented in 1981 by Japan’s MyCoal Corporation which was then passed to their associate MyCoal USA.


About the Author

Garett Masin is a junior at Billings Senior High enrolled in Mr.Beals Chemistry class who enjoys drumming, outdoor activities, writing bios about himself and using heavy sarcasm about enjoying writing bios about himself.