one green planet
one green planet

Winter is a time for snuggly, cozy, and comforting things. It’s the perfect excuse for hot chocolate, the right moment (or months) to nestle beneath a blanket with a book, and all the reason we need for hugging up with a spouse or special friend. Hey! We’ve got to stay warm if we are going to get through the season!

A favorite for many is hand warmers. Nothing is quite so uncomfortable as frozen fingers, unable to work the keyboard or hold those knitting needles, and hand warmers are an easy, effective solution. While those little disposable hand warmers surprisingly aren’t especially toxic, they do create a constant stream of waste.

There are reusable alternatives on the market, but another option is to simply make hand warmers from materials that are likely already in our homes. With only a fairly modest material list and a reasonable skillset for any adult or teenager, in the span of one crafty afternoon, anyone could have hands nuzzled up to some DIY hand warmers.

The Materials, the Tools, and the Skills

The material list is short and sweet, which makes this project all the more enjoyable to undertake. First, it begins with some cloth. Use an old sweater, t-shirt, socks, handkerchief, cloth napkin, denim, or whatever else seems right, though do avoid heat-sensitive material. Next, a couple of cups of uncooked rice, white or brown will do. Some thread will round out the material list.

The tools and skills are even simpler. Basically, crafters will need a pair of scissors to cut the cloth to the appropriate size, so for those who know how to use scissors, that’s one skill. The other tool is a sewing needle, and the other skill is the ability to sew, which, even for those who’ve never done it, is not difficult to master. At least, the sewing needed for this project is not.

The Construction Instructions

For lazier crafters, the toe ends of an old pair of socks might work best. Simply cut off the toes to roughly equal sizes. Fill the wayward toes with rice. Sew the open side shut.

For the more serious or aesthetically sensitive person, the process for nicer hand warmers isn’t that much more difficult. Cut out four equally-sized squares of cloth. In pairs, face the attractive sides inwards and sew three sides of the pair together. Now, turn the square inside out so that the attractive side is facing outward. It should be a like a pouch.

Once the pouch is formed, most of the hard work is done. (Sounds tough, right?) Fill the pouch with rice, leaving enough space for the open end of the pouch to be sewn together. Turn the edges of the cloth on the open end inwards so that, when they are sewn together, it looks neater. Take time to sew them closed neatly. Now, the job is done.

The Warmth

These provide warmth by absorbing heat and slowly releasing it. Heat the bags up quickly in the microwave — just zap them for about 15 seconds — and they are ready to go. The other option is to set them near the fireplace (not so close to catch fire), on the radiator, or atop the toaster oven while a snack is cooking.

Another option that many people like to do is add a couple of drops of essential oil to the bags. The scent will kick in overtime as the bags heat up, and they’ll leave users’ hands smelling lovely. If the smell gets too faint, all that’s required is another drop or two.

Of course, after the hands are taken care of, it is possible to make larger warmers for your neck, feet, or back.

The Good Feeling

Homemade, reusable hand warmers leave folks feeling good for a multitude of reasons. They are better for the environment. They are a little slice of self-reliability. They, being homemade and full of personality, are much cuter than plastic, disposable ones. Plus, and this is the real point after all, they keep hands warm again and again…

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