Can You Microwave Hand Warmers? (Answered)

Categorized as Microwave Safety
can you microwave hand warmers

As winter draws near and the temperature decreases, numerous individuals opt for hand warmers to maintain warmth and comfort. These pocket-sized, mobile gadgets are specifically created to supply warmth to the hands, making them ideal for outdoor pursuits or for individuals who experience chilly hands.

Despite their effectiveness, it’s crucial to be aware of the hazards related to hand warmer usage, specifically when it pertains to heating them in a microwave.

Key Takeaways:

  • Microwaving hand warmers can be dangerous if done improperly, and it’s crucial to use microwave-safe materials to avoid potential hazards like smoldering, melting, or catching fire.
  • Materials such as cotton, flannel, linen, dry corn, and wool are safe to use in the microwave, while chemical hand warmers should never be microwaved as they can explode and cause damage or severe burns.
  • If microwaving a hand warmer, check the manufacturer’s instructions and use a microwave-safe container, and watch it carefully to ensure it doesn’t overheat or catch fire.
  • Alternatives to microwaving hand warmers include using a hot water bottle or hand warmer pouches filled with natural materials like rice or flaxseed.

What Are Hand Warmers?

Hand warmers are handy, compact gadgets created to generate warmth for the hands. They come in various types, such as air-activated, chemical, and electric hand warmers.

Air-activated hand warmers become active once they come into contact with air, and they’re usually manufactured from substances like iron powder, salt, and charcoal.

Chemical hand warmers, on the other hand, operate by triggering a chemical reaction that generates heat, using components such as iron powder, sodium acetate, and water. Electric hand warmers, powered by batteries, use heating elements to produce heat.

Can You Microwave Hand Warmers?

Heating hand warmers in a microwave may appear to be a convenient solution, but it can be highly hazardous if not done correctly. To prevent smoldering, melting, or fire, it’s crucial to use safe materials when microwaving hand warmers. Fabrics such as wool, linen, flannel, dry corn, and cotton are all safe for use in the microwave.

However, not all hand warmers can be microwaved safely. Chemical hand warmers, in particular, should never be microwaved. They have the potential to explode and cause severe burns or damage to the microwave. The liquid mixture in chemical hand warmers can heat up quickly and become pressurized. Microwaving can cause the pressure to build up, causing the hand warmer to burst.

It’s important to note that even when using microwave-safe materials, there is still a risk of the hand warmer overheating or catching fire if left in the microwave for too long. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never leave the hand warmer unattended while in the microwave.

How to Microwave Hand Warmers Safely

To safely warm up a hand warmer in the microwave, it’s important to follow these steps:

  1. Review the instructions: Before microwaving, make sure the hand warmer manufacturer approves of microwaving it. It might have specific directions or limits for microwaving.
  2. Choose a safe container: If the hand warmer requires a container for microwaving, select a microwave-safe one without any metal or metallic embellishments to avoid sparking.
  3. Properly place the hand warmer: If a container is needed, place the hand warmer evenly inside it.
  4. Warm up the hand warmer: Microwave the hand warmer for approximately one minute, but keep a close eye on it to ensure it doesn’t overheat or catch fire.
  5. Check the temperature: After microwaving, test the hand warmer temperature before using it.

Alternatives to Microwaving Hand Warmers

If you’re concerned about the safety of microwaving hand warmers, there are alternative methods for warming them up. One option is to use a hot water bottle. Hot water bottles are a safe and effective way to warm up your hands without the risk of overheating or catching fire.

Simply fill the hot water bottle with hot water and place it in a cover made of a microwave-safe material such as cotton or wool. This cover will help to keep the heat in and prevent the bottle from getting too hot.

The hot water bottle itself is generally safe to microwave as long as it is specifically designed to withstand microwave radiation. Be sure to check any labels and instructions first. Improperly microwaving a hot water bottle can cause overheating, burning, or damage. With proper microwave-safe models, it can be a convenient way to heat the water.

Another option is to use hand warmer pouches. These are small, reusable pouches that are filled with materials such as rice or flaxseed. 

To use them, simply microwave the pouch for a few seconds until it is warm and then place it in your pocket or gloves. Hand warmer pouches are a great option for those who prefer a more natural and eco-friendly alternative to chemical hand warmers.


To summarize, hand warmers can provide a comfortable solution to chilly hands during winter. However, caution should be exercised, especially when heating them in a microwave. 

To avoid any mishap, use only microwave-safe materials and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully. It is crucial to monitor the hand warmer closely while heating to prevent overheating or combustion. 

Alternatively, one can opt for a hot water bottle or hand warmer pouches, which are safer and more environmentally friendly. With these simple measures, one can relish the warmth and coziness of hand warmers throughout winter.

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!