My reusable hand warmers broke

If you haven’t tried this type of hand warmer (in my case, a larger warmer), they’re pouches of sodium acetate that are SUPER COOL. Literally.

I just happened to get a little carried away in melting them.

Goodbye, hand warmers. I hardly knew ye.

When sodium acetate hand warmers are disrupted from their super-cooled liquid form, they’ll freeze. And since their freezing temp is much higher than room or even body temp, they instantly heat up in an exothermic reaction. Toasty.

I’ve been putting them at the foot of my bed each night to deal with my cold feet. Great for cold hands and sore muscles, too, When they’ve reached room temp again they are REALLY frozen solid. But you can melt them again in boiling water. Or simmering water. Just don’t forget they’re there.

A+, will buy again; and I’ll likely buy this Ikea pan again, too 😬 But I’m dealing with a headache today which is why I forgot it was on the stove in the first place. I’ll try cleaning the pan tomorrow when it’s not so hot.

Update 1

Because my first reaction to this was “Oh nooooooo!” and because my brain apparently still likes to conjure up rhymes even when it doesn’t feel well, I’ve got McArthur Park in my mind with this variation:

I left acetate out in the pan
All those nifty crystals flowing out...

I left acetate out in the pan!
And I know I can't excuse it:
it's my fault I over-brewed it,
And who knows if I can use this pot again?

Oh noooooooo

Update 2

I can use the pot again! If you ever accidentally leave your sodium acetate warmers in a pan too long, here’s what worked for me:

  • Use a plastic spoon (like one from a curry to-go order) to break out as many of the crystals as you can
  • Soak overnight
  • Remove any burnt plastic/silicone bits. I scraped them out with my fingernails, but you can probably use the plastic spoon for that, too.
  • DONE.

Granted, I was scrubbing it out of my cheap but lovely non-stick IKEA pasta pot (Teflon — I know). I used plastic because I didn’t want to damage it.

If you think your pan can take it — now I’m singing again — go ahead and use whatever metal utensils and scrubbers you need. And if you ever need to clean burned bits out of a stainless steel pot or pan, my friend and I learned this works smashingly: add a smidge of baking soda to the bottom of the pan, and enough water to make a paste. Soak it for a while, then scrub with a wadded-up ball of aluminum foil.

In this case, though, you likely won’t need the baking soda, because guess what Sodium Acetate is made out of in the first place? I’d heard this before, but my friend confirmed:

It’s just potato chip flavoring. The worst part was the plasticy stuff where it melted, but again, that came up with the power of my fingernails. So if this happens to you, despair not. You now know what to do.

And if you want to see how to make your own hand warmers, or if you’re just curious, here’s a video on it. Note mine are fine super cooling at room temperature. So when all of my warmers were solid, I’d boil them all, then dry them off and put one under my blankets while I readied for bed. Then I’d start the reaction and enjoy toasty toes, then put on socks to keep the heat in.

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