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Hand Warmer

Alessandra Bassani, Vianna Bassani,
Maggie Moriarty, and Amy Coll
The basis of the hand warmer lab was to test the heating capabilities of chemicals
to see which is compatible to make the best hand warmer. We tested 6 chemicals
for this experiment; they were Ammonium Chloride (NH4Cl), Calcium Chloride
(CaCl2), Sodium Acetate (NaCH3CO2), Lithium Chloride (LiCl), Sodium Carbonate
(Na2CO3), and Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4). After testing the chemicals in a lab
experiment, we did calculations for the ΔH to find which would be the best
chemical. Along with which chemicals met the requirements and had at least a
20℃ change, we took into consideration the environmental impact and the cost of
each chemical.
We did the calculations based on the salts that had a negative ΔH (kJ/mol).
This is because a negative ΔH means the salts were exothermic, so they
gave off heat. Calcium chloride, lithium chloride, sodium acetate, and sodium
carbonate all had negative ΔH. We did not do the calculations for ammonium
chloride and sodium chloride, because we knew from their positive ΔH that
they were endothermic. This means they would take in heat, causing the
temperature to drop, and the hand warmer to become colder.
Calcium Chloride
Lithium Chloride
Sodium Acetate
Sodium Carbonate
Environmental Impact
Calcium Chloride
Calcium chloride dissociates into calcium and chloride ion when in water.
Calcium Chloride is widely used as a fertilizer for plants and crops. Calcium
chloride also provides calcium to these plants. As calcium and chloride are both
essential to plants, an excess of them can cause damage to plants. For many
animals, there is acute oral toxicity that is low and rarely affects animals.
According to the SIDS Initial Assessment Report for Calcium Chloride, “Acute
toxicity studies (lowest effect values) reveal a 72-hour EC50 of 2900 mg/L for
algae (Selenastrum capricornutum), a 48-hour EC50 of 1062 mg/L for daphnids
(Daphnia magna) and a 96-hour LC50 of 4630 mg/L for fish (Pimephales
promelas)” (Kawamura). Rabbits have been shown to have severe eye irritation.
Although, Calcium Chloride does not have a large effect on humans, it can cause
irritation to skin if it is used in high concentrations for prolonged periods of time.
Calcium Chloride is also used as a road salt for dissolving ice and snow.
Lithium Chloride
Lithium Chloride dissociates into lithium and chloride ion when in water. It is used
as a drying agent. It can be harmful to humans; when consumed it causes
weakness and unbalance. Excessive exposure can cause irritation. In animals,
Lithium Chloride can be very harmful. In rabbits, it causes irritation to the skin.
According to MERCK Chemicals Safety Data Sheet, there is “toxicity to fish,
LC50, Species: Oncorhynchus mykiss (rainbow trout), Dos: 158 mg/L, Exposure
time: 96h” and “toxicity to daphnia and other aquatic invertebrates, EC50,
Species Daphnia magna (Water flea), Dose: 249 mg/L, Exposure time: 48h”
(MERCK). It can also negatively affect plants upon excessive exposure.
★The environmental impact of Ammonium Nitrate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium
Carbonate, and Sodium Acetate were not discussed because they did not meet
the requirements of the 20°C temperature change to make an effective hand
warmer. ★
Lithium Chloride
Although lithium chloride has the largest change in temperature, 33.96 degrees,
but it is the most expensive. It is $0.07 for every gram. This would not be the most
cost effective choice to use as a hand warmer. If a company were to use lithium
chloride, the hand warmers would consequently be very expensive and most likely
would not be very popular with the consumers.
Calcium Chloride
Calcium chloride has the largest change in temperature besides lithium chloride,
27.69 degrees. Yet, unlike lithium chloride, calcium chloride is much cheaper per
kJ. Calcium chloride is only $0.01 per gram. This would be the smarter choice for
hand warmer companies to use because then the hand warmers themselves
would be cheaper to buy and sell. Most people would most likely not pay more
than a reasonable price for a hand warmer so it is important that the hand warmer
is not too expensive. Calcium chloride still has a large change in temperature and
it is much more cost effective than lithium chloride.
Sodium Acetate and Sodium Carbonate
Sodium acetate is $0.03 dollars per gram which is quite expensive considered that
its change in temperature is not as large as some of the other chemicals, at 14.08
degrees. Its lack of high temperature change does not make the price of sodium
acetate worth it. Sodium carbonate is relatively cheap $0.006 dollars per gram but
it does not compare with calcium carbonate’s temperature change. Sodium
carbonate’s temperature change is only 15.74 degrees and even though it is
cheap, the temperature change is not worth making a hand warmer out of.
Ammonium Chloride and Sodium Chloride
To discuss these prices would be irrelevant because both of these chemicals had
a negative temperature change. These means that these chemicals would be
more well-suited for an ice pack, not a hand warmer. However, ammonium
chloride is $0.02 per gram and sodium chloride is $0.006 per gram. However
since these chemicals actually decrease in temperature, they would not be a
smart choice for a hand warmer
In this lab, the change of heat was studied of different chemicals to develop a hand
warmer. Each group was assigned a certain chemical to work with from the following:
Ammonium Nitrate, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Acetate, Sodium Chloride, Lithium
Chloride, and Sodium Carbonate. In Part A water was heated to 70°C . 100mL of room
temperature water were then measured out and placed in the calorimeter. 100mL of the
heated water was then measured in a graduated cylinder and the temperature was
recorded at 68.4°C. It was then poured into the calorimeter and the temperature was
recorded after 20 seconds, in which it was 45.6°C. The calorimeter constant was then
calculated at 13.24J/°C. Part B involved the application of Magnesium Sulfate. 45.0mL
of water were placed in the calorimeter at 22.1°C. 5.00g of Magnesium Sulfate was then
measured and placed into the calorimeter with a stir bar. The highest temperature was
recorded at 40.0°C. A series of calculation were done to find the change in heat.
Qaq=3741.1J, qcal=237.0J, and qsoln=-3978J. The moles of MgSO4 dissolved was
.0415 mol. ΔH was calculated to be -95.78 kJ/mol. Part C followed the same steps as
Part B, except with Sodium Carbonate. The initial temperature of the water in the
calorimeter was 21.6°C and the temperature after 5.00g of Sodium Carbonate was
In order to determine which hand warmer would be most effective, we had to study the
effects of each chemical. The requirements were for the 10g of the chemical to make a
temperature change of at least 20.0°C when dissolved in 45.0mL of water. When
calculated, Sodium Carbonate would only have a temperature change of 15.74°C. Due
to the requirements, it would not be a suitable hand warmer. Ammonium Nitrate and
Sodium Chloride were endothermic reactions. They got colder when dissolved in water,
and therefore would not meet the requirements or be suitable for a hand warmer.
Sodium Acetate although exothermic, did not meet the requirements because of only a
14.08°C temperature change. The change in temperature under these conditions for
Calcium Chloride was 27.69°C. For Lithium Chloride the change in temperature was
33.96°C. Both Calcium Chloride and Lithium Chloride would be suitable hand warmers
given the requirements. After evaluating the costs and environmental impact, Calcium
Chloride was selected as the best chemical to use for the hand warmer. Even though it
had a smaller change in temperature compared to Lithium Chloride, Calcium Chloride is
more environmentally friendly, and less toxic. Also, the cost per gram is significantly
less, which would allow for a cost effective hand warmer. The best option for the hand