Do to the unseasonably (unreasonably?) COLD weather, I thought it timely to repost an article I wrote over a year ago about the Hotsnapz reusable hand warmers. I’ve touched the old review up a bit, and gave it some spit and polish. Hotsnapz are a product that I’ve used for years, and can definitely help out in the cold times. You can find the original article here if you are interested.
I live in Florida, the southern half, way down south where bananas (and plantains!) grow. But even here, we almost get frost. And when the temps dip into the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, water temps drop FAST. Since I scuba dive almost daily as a part of my job, I have had to face getting into water that was in the 40’s and 50’s in wintertime.
(Yesterday, Jan 7, 2014, the local air temp was around 50 degrees with a 15mph+ wind gusts, water temp was around 68. Yes, I was swimming part of the day.)
I am often asked the same three questions, regarding diving in the winter in Florida.
1. “It’s Florida, how cold can it be?”
Water temps in the 50’s and 60′ s are very common here every year. Some years they even get into the 40’s which tens to cause large fish kills in our local waterways.
2. “Don’t you have a wetsuit”
3. “What about a dry suit?”
I have a couple of those, also, and wearing one is like getting vacuum sealed into a oversized pair of “footy pajamas“, and gets very tight in certain areas that should not be so constricted. (Guys, you should understand what I’m talking about.) Also, my head and hands still get wet.
I have a strong dislike for drysuits, so prefer to use a wetsuit for most jobs. So I’m always looking for options to make my time underwater less brutal. With this particular product, I’ve found a definite winner.
Enter HotSnapz reusable hand warmers. They are simply a sealed vinyl bag containing a flexible creased metal disk in a super-saturated solution of sodium acetate (food-grade, safe if you accidentally eat some, and the stuff that is used to flavor salt and vinegar potato chips).
The disk is flexed, acting as a catalyst to kick off a physical reaction that releases the heat stored from the process of boiling the sodium acetate. The process is called an “exothermic” reaction, or something that gives off heat. This the only part that I really care about
See it here:
They get to a maximum temperature of 130F (54C). The process is theoretically repeatable indefinitely. That’s efficient!
A word of caution – they can get hot enough to cause minor redness if held against bare skin, or even thin layers of clothes. I usually put them under my wetsuit but over my rash guard (swim shirt), and many times I have some lingering redness that last several hours. It isn’t painful, just letting you know. I’ll take that redness, as having the Hotsnapz closer to my skin keeps me much warmer while diving.
And for my long time readers, you know I have an obsession with lionfish…check this out:
According to the Florida Poison Information Center in Miami, stings from lionfish can be serious, and should not be taken lightly. Any broken spines should be removed, if possible, and the affected area exposed to heat (100-114 degrees F. or 38-46 degrees C.) for 15-20 minutes. Lionfish venom contains proteins that are denatured by heat, thus preventing them from spreading in the bloodstream.
Just one more reason for me to have these!
Recharging and Storing
To recharge Hotsnapz, simply boil until all of the crystals dissolve.
Stored this way, they should last up to a decade, based on my observations. The colors do tend to fade, but the effectiveness does not.
My mishandling some of my Hotsnapz ended their lives over the summer.
By mishandling, I mean improper storage. Hotsnapz should be stored in their liquid form, otherwise they tend to off gas excess moisture, leaving air pockets in them, and throwing off the sodium acetate to water ratio, and they never re-liquify. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
From my experiences, Hotsnapz can be stored well over two years, probably much longer, as long as they are in their liquid state.
On land, the 3″x5″ Hotsnapz I have last about 45 minutes, longer if kept in an insulated pocket. I use them many years deer hunting in West Virginia, and the Hotsnapz have allowed my sissy self to better handle the cold there that I am no longer accustomed to.
In the water, the same 3″x5″ Hotsnapz last about 20 minutes, then taper off quickly. I usually carry a dozen or more, using them in pairs. This gives me around 90 minutes of
warm less cold diving. But definitely a LOT more bearable. They allow me to maintain my core temperature, thus extending my safe working times.
Where to get them
Check them out at hotsnapz.com, and tell them FloridaHillbilly sent you. Alternatively, you can find Hotsnapz (and some knockoffs that I cannot vouch for) at Amazon.com. Hotsnapz make great gifts, and are rather inexpensive when you consider you only have to buy them once, and they are good for hundreds, if not thousands of uses. This is a far better option than the one-shot hand warmers that cost around a buck a piece.
Prices range from around $3 up to $30.00, depending on sizes and amounts you order.
Be sure to check out their buy one, get one offers, as well as their combo packs.
$5.99 Flat Rate Shipping and free shipping is offered of orders over $48.00
Hotsnapz come in a variety of sizes and colors, with the larger one lasting longer, some up to three hours! Check the website, they regularly have specials. My first order was for some pre-printed overstock that I saved me about $2 each.
Hotsnapz are a definite must have!
……even here in Florida!
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Note: This product was purchased by me personally. No payment was made by the company Hotsnapz for this review. This is an unbiased, unpaid opinion. MY opinion.