But are hand warmers toxic? Usually, disposable hand warmers have iron content which oxidizes and heat up after contact with air. If someone ingests the part of the hand warmer containing iron, there is a high possibility of toxicity.

However, the reusable hand warmers do not contain iron; instead, they have a supersaturated Sodium acetate solution to discharge heat once it is crystallized. But reusable hand warmers are not safe for the skin of young children due to heat sensitivity.

In this post, we have discussed the possibilities of toxicity from hand warmers and how you can keep your pets or children safe from adverse consequences.

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Are Hand Warmers Toxic

Are Hand Warmers Toxic to Touch?

According to the experts' recommendation, using hand warmers for too long can lead to burn injuries. This can even happen if the temperature stays within the optimum range or exceeds slightly up to 43 degrees Celsius.

 Are Hand Warmers Toxic to Touch

The potential toxicity risks are also possible due to the ingredients a hand warm contains. There is a mixture of activated charcoal, iron powder, salt, and vermiculite. The iron under exposure to air oxidizes, producing an exothermic reaction to generate heat.

So, it is advised that you should never put your hands in hand warmers by making direct contact; instead, you must use safety gloves.

Are Hand Warmers Toxic to Dogs?

You might have heard about the story of Golden Retriever dying after consuming a hand warmer, which forced you to wonder about their toxicity. The issue arises when a dog ingests the hand warmer, and it gets into the system. The iron in hand warmer is the major reason for dangerous impacts. However, if you do not see the main symptoms, the least consequence will be an intestinal blockage.

Symptoms of Hand Warmer Toxicity

Symptoms of Hand Warmer Toxicity

But what happens if a dog eats a hand warmer? Though there isn’t a high risk of toxicity in large dogs. However, if a smaller dog has ingested a sufficient amount of iron, you will notice the following symptoms in your dog:

  • Blood in stool
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Shakiness in body
  • Excessive panting
  • Shock
  • Lethargy

These symptoms do not only occur due to hand warmer toxicity; many multivitamins, pesticides, prenatal vitamins, and fertilizers also contain iron, which can lead to this stage.

Are Hand Warmers Safe to Use?

Hand warmers help keep your toes and fingers warm in extremely cold weather; in some scenarios, disposable ones can cause trouble if they aren’t used properly. But are hand warmers bad for the environment?

Once you remove the warmer containing iron from its plastic packaging, it will oxidize to produce heat. In case your pet ingests any part of the disposable hand warmer, the pet will get an upset stomach.

If you have not used your hand warmer and your pet has ingested the whole package, the ingredients will cause thermal burns inside the body leading to severe pain in the stomach and vomiting. In extreme cases, it will lead to diarrhea with blood.

If one of the intact hand warmer has been ingested by your pet, they will experience intestinal blockage, which will require surgery for removal.

So, it is important to keep such things in safe places out of the reach of children and pets.

Can A Hand Warmer Explode?

As hand warmers are made to produce heat through different chemical reactions, the heat, upon contacting any flammable or combustible material or liquid, will lead to a fire.

With the wide variety of hand warmers, rechargeable battery-powered hand warmers tend to convert their stored energy in lithium batteries with the electric current via resistors. If the batteries are placed too close to resistors, there is the possibility of overheating and exploding.

Preventive Measures

However, you can take some preventive measures to minimize the damage caused by hand warmers.

  • Avoid using them for a long period.
  • Never use them in the same area repeatedly.
  • Avoid ingesting iron.
  • If you have a disposable one, dispose of it right after use.

Is Iron Powder In Hand Warmers?

Disposable hand warmers contain iron powder, water, salt, absorbent, and activated charcoal. These ingredients collectively undergo exothermic reactions to generate heat. When you remove the warmer from its packaging, oxygen enters the pouch, reacts with iron powder containing iron oxide, and produces sufficient heat.

Instead of chunks of iron, powdered iron is used to speed up oxidation. Generally, a gram of iron can produce 1.7 kilocalories of heat. As the iron powder heats up quickly, avoiding direct contact with the skin is always advised.

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How Much Is Iron In Hand Warmer?

Usually, disposable hand warmers have a 50% iron powder content of 65 to 120-gram weight of all ingredients. In a patient who ingested a piece of hand warmer, 5 to 8 grams of iron content were present.

In some experiments, it has been revealed that a single oral dose of hand warmer ingredients (2g/kg) caused toxic effects on rats. So, ingesting a small amount or a single hand warmer will not lead to toxicity, but large quantities are required to stimulate the adverse effects.

Final Thoughts

To summarize the effects of hand warmers, the good news is once you have used a hand warmer, it will no longer cause toxic effects. However, if you have a packed or unused hand warmer, it will result in high toxicity upon ingestion. In worst cases, it is iron toxicity which is lethal.

So, keep unopened hand warmers out of reach from children and dogs.

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