The Thermochemistry Behind Hot and Cold Pads

A good hot pad/cold pad can alleviate pain and greatly increase your sense of comfort, especially if you suffer from cold hands while gaming.

What Are Hot And Cold Pads?

A hot pad is a pad that contains heat-retaining or heated material. Most hot pads are small and light. This allows you to place them on, and wrap them around, any part of your body.

You can purchase several different types of hot pads. The two most common are:

  • A Traditional Hot Pad
  • An Electric Hot Pad

A cold pad is a pad that contains ice, and chemicals that keep the ice cold. You can purchase two different types of cold pads:

  • A Gel Cold Pad
  • An Instant Cold Pad

Both types of cold pads are flexible and relatively soft. You can place them on, and wrap them around, any part of your body.

How Does A Traditional Hot Pad Work?

Every traditional hot pad is filled with a special material designed to retain heat. Some of the most common materials include:

  • Rice
  • Walnut Shells
  • Gel
  • Wheat
  • Corn Kernels

Each one of these materials can heat up and, then, retain that heat for a period of time. To ensure that these materials stay warm for the duration of that period, they are insulated within the hot pad.

Right before you can use a hot pad, you must warm it up. To do so, you can:

  • Warm It In Your Microwave
  • Boil It On Your Stove
  • Heat It In Your Oven

The act of doing so will heat the hot pad’s external material. But, in heating this external material, the heat-retaining material within the hot pad will also warm up. Every hot pad is different. But, generally speaking, the heat-retaining material will remain nice and hot for at least 20-minutes. You can, during this time, press the pad against your body, and experience a soothing wave of direct heat.

How Does An Electric Hot Pad Work?

You will find a network of small electric cables within an electric hot pad. Each one of these electric cables is connected to the center of the hot pad. Right as you turn on your electric hot pad, electricity flows through these wires, heating them up.

Since this is the case, when you place an electric hot pad against your body, you are placing a network of electrical wires against yourself. To ensure that you are as warm as you wish to be, most electric hot pads offer several heat settings. Just select the setting you wish to use, and the appropriate amount of electricity will flow through the wires.

How Does A Gel Cold Pad Work?

Every  cold pad contains ice. And, since ice is cold, this cools the pad containing the ice. But, as everyone knows, ice melts. To keep the ice cold, gel cold pads rely on silica gel, and two other primary ingredients:

  • Propylene Glycol
  • Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

Both of these ingredients come together and create a mixture. Silica gel binds this mixture together, which keeps the ice cold, yet soft and flexible. You can, as  a result of this mixture, place and wrap the gel cold pad around any part of your body. The average gel cold pad will remain cold for at least 24-hours.

How Does An Instant Cold Pad Work?

Every instant cold pack contains two primary ingredients:

  • Water
  • Ammonium Nitrate

Both the water and ammonium nitrate are contained within two  pouches. To activate an instant cold pad, you must press down on it. By doing so, the two pouches open up. Soon after the two pouches open, the water and ammonium nitrate come together. This creates an endothermic reaction, allowing the water to become very cold and, then, freeze. All in a brief moment. The duration of time an instant cold pad remains frozen/cold depends on the pad. But, as a general rule, most instant cold pads last for around 3-to-5-hours.

What Can You Do With A Hot Pad And/Or Cold Pad?

You can use a hot pad/cold pad to:

  • Reduce Muscle Pain
  • Alleviate Stiffness
  • Decrease Inflammation
  • Relieve Postpartum Pain

Just place the pad against the part of your body you would like to warm/cool.


No matter your intended use, hot/cold pads are easy-to-use, safe, and effective.

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