How to Make Hand Warmers [DIY]

The commercial instant hand warmers sold during winter can be quite pricey. Why don’t you make your own?

Hand warmers are easy to make. The materials are easy and inexpensive to come by as well.

In this short article, I will guide you through making a DIY instant hand warmer. The materials needed can be easily acquired. In fact, you may have all the needed materials already.

Safety First

When it comes to DIY projects, safety is important. When working on the hand warmers remember to wear gloves. This will help prevent contact with the solution. Also, ensure that when using the hand warmer, the materials are not exposed to the user’s skin. In addition, it is important not to inhale the fumes produced. For this reason, it is important that you seal the larger zip bag very well, using either duct tape or glue.

Materials Needed

The 3 main materials needed to make the instant hand warmers include zip bags, calcium chloride ice melt pellets, and water. 

Here is a comprehensive list of materials needed

  • Calcium chloride pellets / Ice-melt pellets (containing calcium chloride as main ingredient)
  • Water
  • 2 Ziploc bags - A medium-sized high-quality double-zip Ziploc bag, and a smaller sandwich sized single zip Ziploc bag
  • Glue or duct tape
  • Rubber gloves

As you can see, the materials on this list are easy to acquire. You can acquire calcium chloride pellets from your local hardware store. They are generally called ice melt pellets and are used to melt ice/snow during the winter. As far as the main ingredient is calcium chloride, you are good to go.


Here are the steps needed to make an instant hand warmer.

Step 1: Pour calcium chloride ice melt pellets into the large bag

Simply pour the calcium chloride into the large Ziploc bag. You should fill the bag up to about one-fourth. This should be about 1½ inches from the bottom of the bag.

Do not overfill the bag since it can melt through the Ziploc bag when it mixes with the water.

It is also important that you wear the rubber gloves when touching the calcium chloride. You hand should be dry and you should have no cuts or opening on your skin. Also, ensure no calcium chloride dust is exposed to your eyes.

Step 2: Pour water into the small Ziploc bag

Fill the smaller bag with water, about halfway from the bottom of the bag. Squeeze out any air in the bag. Also, inspect the bag for leaks. Seal the bag very well to ensure the hand warmer does not activate ahead of time.

Step 3: Place the small bag inside the large bag

Now place the small bag containing the water into the large bag with the calcium chloride pellets. The smaller bag should be facing downwards. Seal the large bag so it does not open accidentally. This will prevent the solution created from come into contact with the skin. For a stronger seal, duct tape or glue the seal on the large bag.

Step 4: Using the instant hand warmer

This hand warmer is now ready for use. To activate the hand warmer you need to squeeze the small Ziploc bag until the seal breaks. This will cause the water in the small bag to mix with the calcium chloride pellets in the larger bag.

A chemical reaction will occur as the water mixes with the ice melt pellets. The heat produced is instant.

If you get some of the solution on your skin, thoroughly wash away with running water. When I made my DIY hand warmer, the solution created was not harmful enough to cause any issues. However, I strongly advise that you ensure the bag is well sealed.

How the Hand Warmer Works

When Calcium chloride reacts with water to form hydrochloride acid and calcium oxide, heat is produced. The chemical reaction occurs when the seal of the small Ziploc bag is broken. You can add iron filings to the calcium chloride ice melts. This will produce more heat. The chemical reaction will go on for 30 minutes to an hour and it will produce substantial heat.

Watch this video  for making this DIY hand warmers:

Water Jelly and Iron Fillings Hand Warmers

Let us explore another method for making hand warmers at home. With this hand warmer, you need to use them immediately. However, they can produce more heat.

Materials Needed

  • Water Jelly Crystals
  • Calcium chloride powdered
  • 1 sandwich-size high-quality double-zip Ziploc bag
  • Glue or duct tape
  • Water
  • 9 oz. plastic cup
  • Iron Fillings


Here are the steps needed to make an instant hand warmer.

  • Step 1: Fill the cup with water. Fill the cup until it is almost full.
  • Step 2: Add water jelly crystals to the water. As you can imagine, the jelly crystals will swell up as they absorb the water. This can take several hours. You can leave them overnight. You can easily dry out leftover jelly crystals for reuse.
  • Step 3: Pour the jelly crystals into the Ziploc bag. About 4 tablespoons of swelled-up jelly crystals should be enough for this DIY hand warmer. If necessary, break up the crystals.
  • Step 4: Pour a tablespoon of iron filings into the Ziploc bag.
  • Step 5: Add 1½ tablespoons of calcium chloride to the mix in the Ziploc bag.
  • Step 6: Once you seal the bag, squish and press the content together to evenly mix the materials. In no time, the mix should be producing a lot of heat. This heat will warm up your hands for up to an hour!

How Water Jelly and Iron Fillings Hand Warmer Works

In addition to the water and calcium chloride reacting to produce hydrochloride acid, calcium oxide, and heat, the solution created also jumpstart the oxidation of the iron filings which then produce more heat.


As you can notice, the first DIY hand warmer allows you to create a hand warmer that can be used later. This makes it more convenient. You can always add a tablespoon of iron fillings to the ice melt pellets contained in the large Ziploc bag when making the first DIY hand warmer in this article. The additional iron filling will produce additional heat if that is what you desire.


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