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Want a chemical that heats up when mixed with water

Q. Which chemicals can produce power?

Duff Banda
- Lilongwe, Lilongwe
April 5, 2024

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

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.

December 5, 2009

"Exothermic and Endothermic Catalytic Reactions"

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A. Hi, Bimal. Your question is a bit hard to answer 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 ([liquid caustic soda in bulk on Amazon (adv.)] ) 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,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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 -- when we ask about what people already know or what grade they're in we're not trying to pry :-)
... but 3rd-graders and doctoral candidates both identify themselves as "students" -- and we don't want to try to offer college level chemistry responses to 3rd graders, nor insult students better educated than we by responding to them with elementary school words and explanations :-)


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. You might try calcium oxide (Quicklime) [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] 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

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
February 27, 2013

Ed. note: Welcome home, Robert, and thank you for your service.

Exothermic Demo Kits
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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 22, 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,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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

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 22, 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 29, 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,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Chemically Heating Water to 60 °C

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 [beakers on eBay or Amazon (adv.)])

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 5, 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
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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
August 5, 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
October 6, 2016

Wanting to heat a room

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
October 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 18, 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 a propane catalytic heater [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] 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
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
November 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
December 18, 2016

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 12, 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 17, 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
April 24, 2017

Chemical for heat production in Geo-polymer concrete

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
August 13, 2017

Chemicals that mix with water for an extreme heat reaction

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 19, 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
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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

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 26, 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

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
January 25, 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 26, 2018

Hi Carrick, hi Kaine. Geoff's response is pretty clear, and it followed several other informative answers. Please try your best to follow up with a specific request for clarification if you don't understand what was said.


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

What chemical will light a match?

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 23, 2018

A. Hi Killua. If you give a matchstick a very short dip in concentrated sulfuric 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
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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.
July 12, 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
August 31, 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
Hampshire, England

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