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#265623 - 12/11/13 07:55 PM Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale
Meadowlark Offline
Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 154
Loc: Northern Colorado

Hi all --

Been busy so I haven't posted in a while, but I wanted to share an experience I had the other day.

I was outside painting winter landscapes during a balmy, 28F afternoon with some friends (it's sort of a polar bear club for creative people -- one can only stay cooped up in the studio for so long!) and after a couple of hours of standing at our easels, one painter complained of cold feet.

Thinking to be helpful, I got out a couple of chemical handwarmers from my personal kit to put in their snow boots...only to find that the warmers didn't work, despite the expiration date being 2014. At first I thought they were just slow to warm up, but no. They were absolutely dead. Kaput.

Fortunately, we were not far from the car and they were able to warm up...but I kept thinking to myself, how many times have I thought I could rely on those handwarmers in an emergency situation?

Moral of the story: Chemical handwarmers are NOT a failsafe item for your winter kit. If you do choose to have them, buy new ones every season, have back-ups, and check them regularly! If they are soft, they are likely still good. If stiff and gritty, forget it. They can go "off" despite their expiration date.



Off to get a hot cup of coffee,

Meadowlark
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I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
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#265629 - 12/12/13 12:32 AM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Meadowlark]
Quietly_Learning Offline
Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 163
Unfortunately I've had handwarmers not work within the expiration period on numerous occasions. After many years of buying them I've found that they're only good for about six months or so even though they are marked for a year.

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#265638 - 12/12/13 05:25 AM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Meadowlark]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2002
Loc: Great Plains
I have a big box of them, maybe I should test a few out. Not that I really rely on them for much. To me they're more comfort item than a necessity.
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#265657 - 12/12/13 03:51 PM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Meadowlark]
RNewcomb Offline
Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 170
Loc: Iowa
I carry some of these around in my backpack, and they do go bad. Like you said, if they are "stiff", they have had it.

I need to refresh my supply of them in by EDC and in the gear trunk in the truck. I've used them many of times in very cold weather.

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#265666 - 12/12/13 10:34 PM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Meadowlark]
Callahan Offline
Stranger

Registered: 10/08/08
Posts: 13
Loc: South Florida
Believe it or not I was going through old gear in the garage last week and found a bunch of Grabber Mycoal mini heaters with an expiration date of 3 Dec 1997. I opened two of them and them and both worked. I guess that speaks to the quality of packaging, then vs now.

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#265687 - 12/13/13 12:45 PM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Meadowlark]
Byrd_Huntr Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 1145
Loc: Land O' Lakes & Rivers - MN, U...
I had some Hothand hand and foot warmers with me on my deer hunting trip this fall. Was sitting up in a frigid river bottom stand when they fizzled out at sunrise (the coldest time of day) after only 90 minutes. We had a big box of them near their expiration date. Lesson learned.
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#265688 - 12/13/13 01:03 PM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Meadowlark]
LED Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
I've noticed handwarmers are hit and miss and the date is pretty irrelevant. Some old ones fire right up and some new ones do nothing. They're nice to have but I've learned not to rely on them.

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#265690 - 12/13/13 01:46 PM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Quietly_Learning]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2184
Loc: Deep south... Carolina
Originally Posted By: Quietly_Learning
Unfortunately I've had handwarmers not work within the expiration period on numerous occasions. After many years of buying them I've found that they're only good for about six months or so even though they are marked for a year.

Really?

I've found they're pretty much hit and miss. I've had brand new ones fail to work. Overall I've never been impressed with them, and refuse to buy them.

Sadly my wife bought me a case one year for Xmas while living in Detroit. I think the case is still unopened (don't tell her!!!)

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#265706 - 12/13/13 08:49 PM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Meadowlark]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1906
Loc: Washington, DC

Never thought of chemical warmers as something to rely on -- they're just a luxury alternative to a heating pad. Nice at a Redskins game. I keep some in my car in the winter mostly for acquaintances on winter outings who don't have good gloves.

Experience tracks others -- ones I've had last a couple to a few years past the expiration date.

For reliable warmth I put much more faith in the down booties, mittens/gloves, Smartwool socks/Lowa boots/Gore-Tex gaiters/Marmot pants, sleeping bag, etc. warm and waterproof clothes that I keep in the car fall-winter-early spring.

And matches, firesteel, blah, blah.


.

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#265710 - 12/14/13 04:54 AM Re: Chemical Handwarmers -- A Cautionary Tale [Re: Meadowlark]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3077
Cold feet, wear a hat. Mittens will help as well to keep other extremities warm as well.

Goretex Socks and some MoD Issue Extreme Cold Weather Socks also.

http://www.strikeforcesupplies.co.uk/index.php?method=stock&id=20152&from=79

Chemical hand warmers have always struck me as being too heavy to carry around for what they do compared to the weight of an aspirin.



Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (12/14/13 04:57 AM)

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