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topic 53795

Want a chemical that heats up when mixed with water

A discussion started in 2009 but continuing through 2018

December 5, 2009

Q. I am searching for a chemical (easily available) to increase temperature of water by chemical reaction but not corrosive to surface. Please anybody suggest me some solution.


... exothermic and endothermic catalytic reactions ...

December 7, 2009

A. Hi, Bimal. Your question is a bit vague because you haven't said what grade level you are in, why you want to do this, what the surface is made of that you do not want the solution to be corrosive to, or anything else. Most chemicals offer a heat of liberation when diluted with water, so there are a lot of choices.

Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) generates a lot of heat when added to water, and it is non corrosive to steel. But it is very corrosive to aluminum and it is dangerous to people. Good luck and please get back to us with more details!


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 3, 2011

Q. I am looking for something similar, perhaps you could help me.

To clarify:

I am looking for a chemical, or possibly a chemical solution, that is minimally dangerous to people (if at all), and quickly heats up to about the heat of a single candle flame for no more than 5 seconds. This will be applied to extremely small quantities of paper or cotton in a controlled environment.

Do you have any ideas that could help me?

You requested this info of Bimal, so I suppose I should post it ahead of time.
Grade Level: Completed 2 years of College.
Why am I doing this: Experimenting with heat sensitive materials and observing how they react.

I thank you for your time in reading this.

Danial Peck
- Coarsegold, California, USA

August 3, 2011

A. Hi, Danial.

Hand warmer

Sodium acetate

I don't know how it was done, but I do remember a shaving cream from Gillette that came in one of those pressurized cans, and it heated up quite well when it came out of the can for use. Releasing pressure causes cooling rather than heating, so that wasn't the explanation. I guess it had something in it which reacted with oxygen. I understand that disposable "hand warmers" contain iron powder and other ingredients which release heat upon exposure to the air. And there are also reusable sodium acetate hand warmers (put them in boiling water to re-melt the crystals).

Apologies -- we weren't prying into people's educational level :-) ...
... it's simply that both 3rd-graders and post-docturates identify themselves as "student" -- we don't want to offer college chemistry responses to 3rd graders, nor insult post-doc students (far better educated than me) with babytalk :-)


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 28, 2011

A. You might try calcium oxide (Quicklime) with water, this will produce an energetic exothermic reaction due to the calcium in the compound which is highly reactive with water. The reaction will form calcium hydroxide and heat as byproducts. If you mix in ratio 2 parts water to 1 part calcium oxide (Quicklime), it will raise the water temperature to boiling. Another compound which reacts with water in this manner is calcium carbide, but the byproducts are flammable acetylene gas and calcium hydroxide which is much more hazardous than the calcium oxide with water reaction. Lime is used in making corn tortillas and would seem to yield the least toxic byproducts after the initial exothermic reaction. Best of luck!

Jack Blade
Mech Engineer - Los Angeles, California

February 27, 2013

Q. Hey I'm new to all this stuff so feel free to correct anything. I am a veteran who just got home from Afghanistan last year but anyways I'm looking for a chemical that would safely mix with regular tar as in something you would cover your driveway in so that when it snows the driveway would safely heat up enough so the snow could not pile up, but is also safe with the environment. Thanks a lot.

Robert Gable
- Middlefield, Connecticut, USA

Ed. note: Welcome home, Robert, and thank you.

Endothermic / Exothermic Demo Kit

October 22, 2014

Q. Hi I'm looking for a chemical product that will self heat a cup of water to the point where it's hot like a cup of coffee and is drinkable and not harmful for humans. I've heard of lemonlime but I've also heard it can be very harmful. Thank you for any replies.

Zack Hramatulov
- Ft lauderdale Florida U.S

October 2014

A. Sorry Zack, I've never heard of this "lemonlime" chemical. Sodium acetate is not to my knowledge poisonous, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is harmless to consume mass quantities :-)


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 26, 2014

A. That would take a very concentrated solution to get it to say 140 °F which would make it unsafe or unwise to drink. Lye or Sulfuric acid are the two most exothermic chemicals that I am aware off. Very few other chemicals generate much heat when dissolved in water.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

March 22, 2016

Q. Actually, I'm a hosteler and due to unavailability of warm water 24*7 I am thinking to find some alternative so can this method of adding NaOH be used for heating bathing water?

pia bansal
- delhi, india

March 29, 2016

Q. I want edible food chemical/preservative or whatever you name it. This is to generate the heat sensation in the food when mixed with saliva. Please tell a name of the particular subject and where to get that one?

rajesh paul
to be a startup entrepreneur - chennai, tamilnadu, india

March 2016

thumbs up signHi Rajesh. Help us help you: please tell us what you might know, if anything, about the edibility of sodium acetate, or about the previously mentioned "lemonlime" chemical to try to keep a vibrant discussion going.

Thanks and Regards,

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Chemically Heating Water to 60 °C

April 5, 2016

Q. Sir,

Need to heat water through chemicals. Only in Powder form --

1. It should be in the Water Ratio of min 1:5

2. We tried Lime -- it has heating power -- but post reacting it gives sedimentation (slug at the bottom of the beaker)

3. We cannot use Caustic flakes -- even though it passes the other requirements, it's highly corrosive.

4. Tried with calcium chloride -- it's good heat, clear solution -- but only 1:2 ( 1 - calcium with 2 parts of water ) we needed at least 5 parts of water.

Could you help us?

preethi r
- india

April 2016

A. How about a mix of your sodium hydroxide powder plus sodium bisulphate powder to a pH neutral condition?
NaOH + NaHSO4 => Na2SO4 + H20

Obviously this releases a dangerous amount of heat, and is fraught with other dangers as well, but I'm not sure what your situation is or what you are after.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

August 5, 2016

Q. Hi guys, my name is Surya and I am currently working a project on a solar panel for my final year of chemical engineering. So you know, I thought of using a chemical which can undergo exothermic reaction when it is exposed to sunlight. And I plan to apply it on nylon material so that I can get some heat out of it and then focusing it on panel using a lens. Help me someone?

Surya [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Chennai ,Tamil Nadu , India

October 6, 2016

Q. Excuse me. My name is Silver and I'm searching for a water heating chemical that's not dangerous to our body. It's for my project in drinkable warm bottled coffee. Please do help. I thought I could make it by using the same system as the MRE water heating bag with magnesium and all, but I'm not sure that it's safe to consume.

Silver Hartono
- Bandung, Indonesia

Wanting to heat a room

October 18, 2016

Q. I live in an apartment building, Concerned about an EMP and we lose our electricity, and with winter coming on, would like to know of a couple of cheap chemicals I can buy,and where I can get them, that would heat up a room to keep from freezing, can leave a window open if necessary! Have no chimney so can't burn wood...thought about a kerosene heater, but would need about 50 gallons of kerosene, and no space to put it here. Thank you! Any help?

Duane Williams
- Rapid City South Dakota USA

November 18, 2016

Q. I want to find a way to keep a hot gallon of water hot, perhaps through the night, to keep a bedroom warm ... Might need a couple of them if it's -20 degrees! If I can find something not too terribly expensive, would need it for the 100 people who live here!

Duane Williams [returning]
- Rapid City, South Dakota

November 2016

A. Hi Duane. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there's no such chemical. Burning 1 gallon of kerosene generates more heat than one gallon of any of those heat producing chemicals can generate. You might consider propane catalytic heaters and 20 pound propane canisters; they are small, relatively safe, and not prohibitively expensive. Although you really shouldn't store propane indoors, maybe that rule goes out the window during the apocalypse. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

December 18, 2016

Q. Hello, great read. Am a bricklayer and when it gets cold our mortar freezes so we don't work. Is there anything natural we could add to this ourselves that would not break down the cement and it's chemical reactions? I believe that reaction heats up but not enough to stop freezing as made with water. Thank you.

Anthony Jarman
construction - England . Hampshire

April 12, 2017

Q. My question: is there any chemical that can make normal water heat in say around 5 to 7 second duration. And it also has to be consumed by human beings; and it has to be non hazardous too.

And another question: is there also any chemical that can make normal water cooler same as above in 5 to 7 seconds. It also has too be non-hazardous to human body as it also has to be consumed by them.

Kamlesh Vorani
- mumbai,Maharashtra,India

April 17, 2017

Q. Hi all, any chemical reaction that could slowly raise the temperature of soil in a field to above 4 °C whilst not affecting crop growth or soil pH levels? All responses appreciated.

Padraig Murphy
- Dublin, Ireland

April 24, 2017

Q. Okay So I am looking for a way to heat water but, not corrosive. It cannot be dangerous to living things and has to be able to not heat it to 70 °F and not able to melt anything.
It is for One of my East Projects

Devan Wilson
- Harrison, Arkansas USA

Chemical for heat production in Geo-polymer concrete

August 13, 2017

Q. Hello all,

I'm making Geo-polymer concrete it needs more than 60 °C air temperature.
i need an additive chemical to increase heat of concrete .

Mohammad Amin Rahimi
student - Chandigarh, India

August 13, 2017

Q. Hi, my name is Vals, I'm searching for something that can heat up water and the heat must stays longer at least 1 hour. I tried with calcium chloride but the heat generated was so low. I want more, enough to boil up foods. And if you guys, ever heard of the new electric-less steamboat that used heat pack, i want something similar like that. Thank you. Oh btw I'm doing this for my maths internal assessment in International Baccalaureate(IB)

Vals PB
Kuala Lampur - UNITED STATES

Chemicals that mix with water for an extreme heat reaction

November 19, 2017

Q. Hi, I am looking for a cheap chemical I can add to water that generates extreme heat and lasts for several hours, yet it won't melt through an empty steel oil barrel. It must be inexpensive and easy to purchase.

Reason I am looking for this chemical I can mix with water is I wish to create a snow melting mechanism I can roll over sidewalks in my neighborhood and melt the snow quickly by using the heated oil barrel and placing this heated barrel on an old lawn mower handle, then rolling the barrel over sidewalks to melt the ice or snow and make the surface of the sidewalk dry and safe for people to walk on.

Mike Young
- Oglesby, Illinois, U.S.A

November 2017

A. Hi Mike. There are at least two problems I see that may make you re-think your best approach. First, we would not be burning petrochemicals and using expensive batteries if there were a cheap way to supply large amounts of heat without them. It might be theoretically possible to feed controlled amounts of lithium, sodium, or other alkali metal into the water to generate large amounts of heat, but the cost of the chemicals plus the exotic control & safety mechanisms would rule it out for this use. It will be much more practical to heat your drum of water with propane.

The other problem is that melting the snow or ice is one thing, but evaporating the water to get the sidewalk dry is quite another. It would depend on the ambient temperature and other factors, but it would take roughly 10X as much heat input to dry the sidewalk as to melt the snow if you could solve the practical problem of keeping the snow at the sides of the sidewalk from melting and running onto the sidewalk. Best of luck with it.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

December 19, 2017

Q. Hi there,

Some years ago I recall seeing a metallic lamp that emitted a very distinctive smelly gas that men would ignite and use to light up the area they were inspecting or working on. The content of the lamp appeared to be water and a few stones.

What were these "stones"?

Some years later I recognised the smell when I was given a solution to drive away heap throwing moles that were messing up our lawn.

Is this a recognised and approved manner for dealing with moles?

Allan Pike
- Cape Town, South Africa

December 19, 2017

A. Allan

My first guess would be calcium carbide.

Google search "miner's lamp".

Willie Alexander
- Green Mountain Falls, Colorado

December 26, 2017

Q. Hi, I am currently doing my final project in Biomedical Engineering. My project requires me to create a self-heating container(?) for wet wipes. Hence, I will be using heat packs and the ingredients inside it to activate the heat. Does anyone know what would trigger the ingredients inside it other than air. Because I am supposed to remove the ingredients from the heat pack without activating it.

Hanis Haszren
- Singapore

December 28, 2017

A. Hi Hannis

This technology is commonly used in self heating canned foods.

The chemical is invariably calcium oxide activated by water.

A web search for "Self heating Cans" /images has diagrams of how they work.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

January 25, 2018

Q. I need something which can heat up a pail of water so that we can bathe outdoors where there's no electric heater.

Carrick Seow
- Singapore

March 26, 2018

Q. So is there a chemical or element that when added to water, creates a highly exothermic response but is also safe for humans? Like the products from the reaction safe for humans to touch?

Kaine black
- Columbus, Ohio, usa

March 2018

Hi Carrick, hi Kaine. Geoff's response was very clear & concise, and followed several other informative answers. Please try your best to follow up with specific requests for clarification if you don't understand what was said. People can find it insulting when the time they've already put in for you isn't valued & appreciated, and starting a thread over from scratch is usually a kiss of death to the topic :-(


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

What chemical will light a match?

June 23, 2018

Q. I have a question that is "Which chemical will light up a matchstick without contacting it?" It's to impress my science teacher to improve my grade. Please help me.

Killua zoldyack
- rajahmundry India

June 2018

A. Hi Killua. If you give a matchstick a very short dip in concentrated sulphuric acid, it will light up after several seconds. But I think your teacher would be more impressed by a detailed explanation from you of how & why than by the parlor trick itself :-)

Good luck and Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

July 12, 2018

Q. Hi, my name is Bemsen, I am producing an investment material from clay and bone ash for my project work, I am looking for a chemical that can instantly dry out the water from the mixture when it is mixed with water as in the case of POP (plaster of paris). Thanks for reading.

Tarnongo Bemsen
Federal College of Dental Technology and Therapy Enugu - Makurdi, Benue state, Nigeria.

August 31, 2018

Q. Hello
I want to make a container or some bag which can be heated by some chemical reaction so that the food inside can be heated.
Basically it would be a multi layer thing the outer layer may contain chemicals with barrier so that on shaking or addition of water to outer layer produces heat which is supplied to inner chamber which contains food it gets heated up and can be consumed and bag with chemicals get discarded.
Basically this idea is to make travel food that can be served hot anytime anywhere.

Param shiv gaur
- Ambala haryana India

September 1, 2018

A. Hi Param
If you look back in this thread you will see that I have already answered the question and shown where you can find more details.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith

September 6, 2018

Q. I should make a chemical/mechanical device which works in such a way that an exothermic chemical reaction automatically starts within stipulated time. The energy released should effectively heat the given water (500 ml).
Any suggestions?

Naveed Khaja
Osmania University - Hyderabad, Telangana, India

September 2018

A. Hi cousin Naveed. I don't think anyone is going to actually design your project for you, and you've given us nothing to go by except the volume of water yet. After a long page discussing how to heat water with chemicals, I don't think your university-level question can be about how to do that. Is your question how to initiate the reaction after some stipulated time -- like how to build some sort of mechanical or chemical timer?

Remembering that you must put more effort into your questions here than you expect a stranger to put into it on your behalf, what is this device made of, what is its purpose and function, and what range of time delay do you seek. Thanks!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

September 14, 2018

Q. Sir, device in the sense compartment for reaction to take place. You need not worry about that. Just suggest me a reaction through which heat is released which is good enough to heat water which is placed in other compartment.

Naveed Khaja [returning]
- Hyderabad, Telangana, India

September 2018

A. Please post your question in terms of what has already been offered :-)

It is somewhat disrespectful to Jake Blade, James Watts, Willie Alexander, and Geoff Smith -- who have already generously volunteered their time answering that question -- to blow off their efforts. Please request clarification of anything that was said that is confusing you, or comment on anything that you disagree with, rather than starting over. Thanks.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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