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Insta'Heat ?!

Category: Back Pain & Heat Therapy
Posted: 2007-05-31 07:47

I've written previously about the virtues of healing heat and cited studies on heat therapy. This new find is now my favorite source for reliable, comforting, heat for my back. Insta'Heat is a gel pack that turns into a 130║F/54║C heater in an "instant", thanks to sodium acetate.

O.k. class, are you all are wearing your safety goggles?! Let's discover sodium acetate with our guest contributor How Stuff Works:

"These heat pads are extremely cool to watch. If you would like to see the process and have the time, you can download this 1.2-megabyte MPEG file and see it happen. Bending the metal disk starts the crystallization process, and you can see the crystallization proceed through the liquid.

What is happening here is strange, but the process can be understood if you think about water freezing. Water freezes at 32║ F /0║ C. If you were to stick a thermometer in a cup of water and put the cup in the freezer, you would find that the temperature of the water falls to 32║ F /0║ C and then hangs there until all of the water is completely frozen. Then the temperature of the solid water falls to the temperature of the freezer.

What if you could somehow supercool the water? That is, say that you could get the water's temperature to 10 degrees below the freezing point without it crystallizing into a solid -- you can sometimes do this using a very clean glass and distilled water so there are no points for the water to begin crystallizing. In this condition, if you tap the glass the temperature of the water will jump up to 32║ F /0║ C, and the water will solidify quickly.

A heat pack like Insta'Heat contains sodium acetate and water. It turns out that sodium acetate is very good at supercooling. It "freezes" at 130║ F /54║ C, but it is happy to exist as a liquid at a much lower temperature and is extremely stable. Clicking the disk, however, has the ability to force a few molecules to flip to the solid state, and the rest of the liquid then rushes to solidify as well. The temperature of the solidifying liquid jumps up to 130║ F /54║ C in the process.

When you boil the solid (10 minutes), you melt it back to the liquid state. You have to completely melt every crystal, by the way, or the liquid will quickly re-solidify. You can repeat this cycle forever, theoretically, just as you can freeze and melt water as many times as you like."

Here you can find additional information on sodium acetate and see Chemistry Come Alive. Get your own Insta'Heat and feel better in an instant!


Toxic Showers?

Category: Water Stories
Posted: 2007-05-23 16:34

Ahhh, what wonderfully comforting and refreshing feeling envelops us as we enjoy a warm shower! It can make a gray day better, it is refreshing after a workout, and it allows some of us the venue to sing without critical review (blush).
Water is one of nature's gifts to us. We are not the best steward of this resource and in an effort to re-use it wisely, we end up poisoning ourselves. The chlorine used to purify water in treatment plants is a poison. When water changes into its gaseous state - steam - it is even more cause for concern!

Chlorine is present in most municipal water systems; in greater amounts during warmer weather or when higher levels of contaminants are present. Chlorine and Chloramine levels can very from day to day. Chloramine is produced when a municipality injects both chlorine and ammonia simultaneously into the water supply.

When you shower or bathe in chlorinated water, the pores of your skin open up and absorb the chlorinated water like a sponge. Also, chlorine-filled steam enters your lungs. People can actually receive more exposure to chlorine during a shower than by drinking the same water. Chlorinated shower water also causes or worsens skin irritations and rashes, dries the skin, can irritate eyes leaving them red, itchy and burning, and inhaling the steam can aggravate the sinuses and lungs as well.

The most important contribution that chlorine shower filters make toward a healthier lifestyle is in reducing the amount of free chlorine that comes into direct contact with your skin and lungs - remember that your skin is the largest organ of your body. Your lungs, I think that goes without need of further explanation.

Opting for a short bath or, better yet, a filter on your shower head is one of the kindest things you can do to help your body from the OutsideIN.

For additional reading:Information from the E.P.A about the dangers of Chlorine and The Unhealthy Effects of Chlorinated Shower Water.
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