Home Made Hand Warmers | UNITED STATES, WYOMING | 12/04/2008, by powderjunky

Homemade Hand warmer.
Generally speaking a tin foiled wrapped sandwich and batteries have as much in common as flip flops and socks. However, on those really cold days, it could be just what you are looking for.

Cold affects us all differently. No matter what the temperature, 30 degrees or 10 degrees, I am skinning in a T-shirt (thanks to the grease and sweat gene commonly referred to as Italian). Then there are people like my wife who get cold in movie theaters in the middle of July. But wherever your tolerance for cold may be, one thing is for sure, being cold just sucks.

While boot heaters are good, and hand warmers work sometimes, I never really have either when I am out in the backcountry.  But i usually do have spare batteries for my beacon and you can bet on always finding a nice month old sandwich wrapped in tin foil squeezed between the shovel blade and the bottom of my utility pocket.

Well to beat the cold I have found that the tin foil and batteries make a great makeshift pocket warmer. It's so simple to make, a Microsoft Vista programmer couldn't mess it up. All you do is wrap the foil around both nodes of the battery. Soon heat will begin to transfer from the battery around the tin foil creating a nice little oven. The key is to not make the tin foil too thick, and to leave two sides of the battery exposed. It usually takes about 1 minute to heat up.

A little disclaimer: I am no science-trician, and this isn't rocket surgery, but I have no idea why this works, and may very well just be a matter of time before the battery blows up in your face worse than Mount St. Helens . So use at your own risk, and be happy you now have another reason not clean out all those old moldy sandwiches from the bottom of your ski pack.

How to make your own hand warmer.

  • Use foil that doesn't have too many rips or holes.
  • Make sure you have enough length to wrap around the battery a couple times to make it taught.
  • Makes sure you have a tight connection on both nodes.
  • You only need to use one battery per foil wrap.
  • It heats about as good as those expensive hand warmers at the store.
  • This probably drains power form the batteries so replace after use, if they are your spare beacon batteries.
  • The harder you squeeze the connection nodes, the hotter it will get.
  • The larger the battery the better.
  • Keep the foil as thin as possible for maximum heat.

Buy Hand Warmers Here

That's Our Opinion. What's Yours?

TeleTara wrote on 12/04/08 at 06:56:23 am pst:

That's hilarious! Great tool for emergency survival though. Where did you learn how to do this?

powderjunky wrote on 12/04/08 at 07:35:14 am pst:

Middle school boredom!

Dan Santini wrote on 12/04/08 at 6:52:05 pm pst:

Grabber Hand Warmers seem to work very well for me for about half the price of batteries. In addition, they are more convenient to use....Open up the package to expose the heat pack to oxygen and you're done. The oxygen initiates a chemical reaction that lasts for about six hours plus. They can also be shaped to form or stuffed into clothing. Many of my coldest days outdoors have been saved by these little gifts from the Gods. The only caveat is that they must remain fairly dry to stay active. The toe version works pretty good as well. I love these things !!!

hot chocolate wrote on 12/05/08 at 1:38:18 pm pst:

Hey there Danny!

I also love the shake-to-activate hand warmers. In fact, I use at least one set every winter day!

These hand made warmers are a great idea though for emergency situations...

Emily Setzer wrote on 12/07/08 at 8:37:29 pm pst:

Wow. That's awesome. I have Raynauds and am always looking for warmer gloves and better handwarmers. Thanks for the tip!

freeheelgirl wrote on 12/09/08 at 12:38:48 am pst:

What the-? Wow, something else to add to my McGuyver bag of backcountry tricks....hope I never have to use this!

Chivers wrote on 12/16/08 at 11:29:19 pm pst:

Here's a recipe for homemade handwarmers like the ones you buy in a store:

take 25 grams of iron filings or powder and mix it with one gram of sodium chloride (table salt) in a ziplock bag then shake it to mix it. then you add a tablespoon of charcoal or sawdust and shake to mix again. seal this in an airtight jar or else the iron will oxidize. to activate, put the amount you want in a ziplock bag and ad about a teaspoon of water. squeeze and shake the mixture until it gets hot. It can get extremely hot and if you get the amounts of chemicals perfectly right, it'll last a few hours.

Mike wrote on 01/25/09 at 11:18:30 am pst:

A little trick with the disposable hand warmers. If you have only used them for a couple of hours, and they are still hot. Wrap them in an airtight sandwich bag and stick that in an airtight jar. You cut off the oxygen the process stops
shake next you need um. You should get
six or more hours total.

Hot Chocolate wrote on 01/25/09 at 5:13:10 pm pst:

Thanks Mike- That's a great tip!

Fart wrote on 02/18/09 at 3:53:52 pm pst:

I can explain how it works. The electricity circulates around the battery in a loop, and since the Tin offers SOME resistance of flow, heat is generated as the electricity can't get through.

Jeff wrote on 02/21/09 at 06:07:10 am pst:

Be careful, though. You are essentially creating a "short-circuit" and depending on the type of battery and thickness of the foil, you might just start a fire in your pocket!

mic wrote on 02/07/10 at 05:59:02 am pst:

Does aluminium foil work?

powderjunky wrote on 02/07/10 at 7:05:05 pm pst:

It does! give it a try and let us know what you think :)

ME!AND!ME! wrote on 04/20/10 at 04:18:07 am pst:

this is nice, but make sure you wrap this thick enough bacause I can make tinfoil melt by making it extremely thin. So make it thick or else you will experience burns.

powderjunky wrote on 04/21/10 at 10:49:12 am pst:

Good call!

tacoman wrote on 01/13/11 at 12:46:42 am pst:

thanks it really helped i have a thing with my hands that they are sensitive to snow my problem is solved

tacoman wrote on 01/13/11 at 12:48:45 am pst:

my hands are sensitive to cold tnx it helped

Lisa wrote on 01/24/11 at 05:09:36 am pst:

Thank you SO MUCH for the question and the idea about re-sealing the handwarmers. I have Reynauds and use them for runs, but I get bummed if I do a 45-minute run and then waste the rest of it. Great!

Jamie wrote on 02/05/11 at 6:34:52 pm pst:

WARNING: I just tried this tonight, and after about half an hour, the battery popped and spewed battery acid everywhere. BE CAREFUL.

powderjunky wrote on 02/06/11 at 4:50:07 pm pst:

Oh Man, that sucks! What type of battery did you use?

BurlEarl wrote on 02/06/11 at 6:44:15 pm pst:

Any NiCad or Lithium ion will get extremely hot on the inside if shorted. Beware. It is pretty sweet though. You can start a fire in a pinch with a 9volt and steel wool in the same way. Do it in your living room it smells great. Yummmm...heavy metals

Lynn Hussey wrote on 04/13/11 at 8:16:06 pm pst:

I did this today when I smashed my mouse for the computer and the tab came off where it's supposed to meet with the battery so,out of desperation as I couldn't use my computer, I got some foil and wrapped the Whole battery and stuck it in the mouse. Next thing the whole mouse was HOT! I panicked,flipped the battery out and ran out of the house and threw it on the step, waiting for it to explode! That's the end of my 'scientific experiments' lol. I 'googled' it to see if it was possible that it could have was extremely hot. I would warn against doing this.

Joel wrote on 10/15/11 at 10:17:20 am pst:

Ummm... BOOM. That could make the battery explode. Have you not heard of short circuits? Very 'shocking' piece of advice.

JEN wrote on 12/08/11 at 1:16:18 pm pst:

The best handwarmers for me are to buy those travel sized lotion bottles. Fill with very hot water. Cap the lid tight and put in your pocket. It will keep walk for quite a while.

I'm a crossing guard so it works great for the 45 minutes I am standing out in freezing weather.

Reusable. No chemicals. and very very cheap

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