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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-01-07, 06:10 AM   #1
JohnBrooking
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Environmental hand warmers?

I've always been reluctant to use hand warmers, because I figured they're all chemicals and bad by both the manufacturing and disposability factors. Also, I've made re-usable homemade ones by sewing up rice into squares of cloth which can be heated in the microwave before a trip.

However, this year, I lost one of those, and the other doesn't work as well as it did last year (I suspect the rice eventually loses effectiveness as it becames more cooked), so for my first 0*F commute of the season last week, I broke down and went to the hardware store to buy a set of disposable hand warmers.

I was pleasantly surprised that the brand that they carry, Grabber, actually claims to be "non-toxic, environmentally friendly". The ingredients list seems to confirm this, to my layman's mind: Iron, water, cellulose, vermiculite, activated carbon and salt. At least there are no scary-sounding 8-syllable chemical names!

Now I do think I recall hearding something negative about vermicutite mining recently, and of course "environmental" is a really a relative thing. Too much salt on the roads is bad when it gets into the rainwater runoff. And one-time use disposable is still not ideal. But, probably better than some other brands.

Not only that, the company donates to non-profits, including conservation groups such as The Conservation Alliance. That makes them sound good too.

Eventually I hope to make myself another set of the homemade warmers. But, in the meantime, what do people think of the environmental claims of this brand? Believable?
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Old 02-01-07, 06:48 AM   #2
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The "stuff" inside might be more environmentaly friendly, but it still creates more trash.

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Old 02-01-07, 07:10 AM   #3
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We used to use baked potatoes in our pockets and then eat them for lunch I realize that won't work too well when riding a bike...I am all for anything that doesn't require disposal regardless of how environmentally benign it is supposed to be. Perhaps some small bags of sand that could be heated in an oven? or put in a freezer bag and warmed in boiling water? Can you warm sand in a microwave? I like the concept of the rice bags...never heard that one before

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Old 02-01-07, 07:14 AM   #4
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Wheat bags work well, so I guess it makes sense that rice bags do!
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Old 02-01-07, 10:04 AM   #5
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I don't know about what grabber claims, I do use them.

Without searching I feel there must be something that will work as well as the rice and possibly last longer. I'm guessing the dampness has been cooked out of the rice and there is nothing to heat anymore.

I have a hydroculator pack, like a hot water bottle only filled with something like sand,from the hospital that can be boiled or microwaved I think. If you can find out what is in one you might be all set for a long time. I bet google will tell you.

Edit: Here you go, different kinds than can be hot or cold.

http://www.hbwsupply.com/index.html?...d_Therapy.html
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Old 02-02-07, 01:46 AM   #6
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HotHands-2 http://www.heatmax.com/HotHands/hothands2.htm Same Ingredients as the OP...
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Old 02-02-07, 08:34 AM   #7
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To the op:
Try pogies, so far this year they allowed me to ride all the way down to -10F without needing to use hand warmers.

I've been using Moose Mitts since last winter, and I'm really happy I got them.

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Old 02-02-07, 12:36 PM   #8
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Just buy better gloves. They work better than those hand warmers anyway. Check ski sohps and outdoor equipment stores. They should be on sale this late in the season.
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Old 02-02-07, 12:44 PM   #9
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has anyone tried that brands foot warmers?

just how thin are they? my shoes are already a little tight.
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Old 02-02-07, 01:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timmhaan
has anyone tried that brands foot warmers?

just how thin are they? my shoes are already a little tight.
They work fine,my shoes fit well and I have to leave them loose. They seem to go about 6 hours.
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Old 02-02-07, 02:18 PM   #11
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I can't imagine throwing away money on those one-time disposable things. I may carry a couple with me to use in case of dire emergency, but using them on regular basis? +1 to Roody: if you're often finding yourself in need of hand-warmers, get better gloves/mitts. Or as BenyBen suggested, try pogies.
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Old 02-02-07, 03:10 PM   #12
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Remember, though, you're probably comparing disposable hand warmers to reusable handwarmers run off of disposable fuel (fossil fuel electricity for microwave). My guess is that the reusable handwarmers are better, but there's still a lot of inefficiency involved in generating electricity.

As cephy says, the real, low enviro impact handwarmer, is called a mitten.
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Old 02-02-07, 08:32 PM   #13
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I've tried different brands of winter gloves, but none of them do as well as mittens. I hadn't heard of pogies before, but they look like they could work. This icebike page says some people claim they are the warmest. That page also mentions "moose mitts" and lobster gloves.
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Old 02-03-07, 01:45 AM   #14
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I use expedition weight glove liners inside fleece Wind Stopper gloves. I've ridden in temps down to -32c with toasty warm hands.
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Old 02-03-07, 10:08 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
I've tried different brands of winter gloves, but none of them do as well as mittens. I hadn't heard of pogies before, but they look like they could work. This icebike page says some people claim they are the warmest. That page also mentions "moose mitts" and lobster gloves.
If I remember correctly you had not enough traction to twist the shifter with mittens at one time?

Warm mittens will keep you warm, but the lobster gloves and things like that will have the same shifting problem.
I can't remember what your twist shifter look like on your bike, but there are a few different kinds.
Some have almost a hexagon shape, some are larger diameter. If you had a larger grip with a better shape maybe it would work OK with mittens. I use huge goose down filled mittens that have thick leather out side. But I have what they call "Rapid fire" shifters, on the bikes I ride when it is very cold. It's more like pushing a lever or a trigger. Your bike could also be converted to these if you decided it was worth the trouble. It's still not a fast shift, but it seems to work for me. It may take some getting used too.
Also all rapid fire shifters are not identical. If you did decide to try this, make sure you can see and touch the shifters before they get put on your bike. If you ever want a photo let me know.
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Old 02-05-07, 02:18 PM   #16
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Mittens are great--try the wool knit ones with thinsulate lining. They keep me warm down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. I've had no trouble shifting with them. Put a thin pair of fleece gloves on beneath, and you can go down to minus 10 F. Actually, the warmest gloves I currently own are an $8 pair of ski gloves from K Mart. The problem is, they are stiff and bulky, so I only use them when temps are below 0 F. Buy expensive ski gloves at a ski shop, and you should be happy with them at nearly any temp. Another option is snowmobile gloves or mittens. These are always waterproof and windproof.

I don't like to spend a lot of money on gloves because I'm always losing them. Then I usually find them again in the middle of July.
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Old 02-05-07, 03:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
I don't like to spend a lot of money on gloves because I'm always losing them. Then I usually find them again in the middle of July.
My mommy sewed name tags in mine in about 1968. Used em yesterday.
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