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Skiing & Snowboarding Hand and Foot Warmers

If there's one thing skiing and snowboarding fans dread during the ski season, it's icy hands and feet. Even with heavy duty snow gear, it is the extremities that suffer most during freezing weather conditions. The invention of hand and foot warmers was therefore a boon to winter sports lovers.

The Basics of Hand and Foot Heat Packs

Some hand and foot heat packs are sold as singles, but the majority come in packs of two. The idea is that the small packs are conveniently slipped into your jacket pockets and your boots, providing a warm sanctuary for fingers and toes. It generally takes little more than a few seconds for the chemicals within the heat packs to combine and begin generating heat. For safety reasons, heat packs should never be used inside gloves or socks, or otherwise directly against the skin.

How Hand and Foot Warmers Work

Hand warmers and foot warmers rely on a chemical process known as an exothermic reaction which, strangely enough, is a very similar process to that which creates rust. The hand warmer pouch contains iron which oxidises when exposed to oxygen, producing heat. Salt within the pouch assists the process, while the added carbon acts as a means of heat dispersion. Two other important ingredients within the pack are vermiculite and cellulose, with the former acting as an insulator to retain the heat produced and the latter acting as filler. Contained within a polypropylene bag – allowing the ingredients to be permeated by air without moisture escaping – the hand and foot warmer pouch heats hands and feet in a safe and controlled way.

Using Hand and Foot Warmers at High Altitudes

Most foot and hand warmer products can be used at high altitudes, although the reduced oxygen levels found at high altitudes can mean that the warmers take longer to reach the desired heat level. Most manufacturers of camping and hiking hand warmers recommend allowing more time in the open air to give your warmers the opportunity to reach their optimal level before slipping them in your pocket as usual.

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