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topic 53795p2

Want a chemical that heats up when mixed with water

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A discussion started in 2009 but continuing through 2020

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.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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 :-(


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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
Hampshire, England

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. Is your question how to initiate the reaction after some stipulated time -- like how to build some sort of mechanical or chemical timer?

What is this device made of, what is its purpose and function, and what range of time delay do you seek. Thanks!


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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. Jake Blade, James Watts, Willie Alexander, and Geoff Smith have already generously volunteered their time answering that question. 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!


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

February 9, 2019

A. Caution:
Sodium acetate and water
NaOH + NaHSO4 => Na2SO4 + H20 (ends up with water)
Steel wool and Table salt and a little water
Sodium , Lithium, even Tritium.

I have used all of these in many different situations. And maybe a few others. My caution is don't try to get a 5 or 6 second reaction with a massive BTU output. usually if it goes right it soon ends up dangerous and wrong. it can be compared to nuclear reactions. slow is good and controllable and fast is BOOM.

Gerald Spaulding, Maintenance tech for Modi bag, Retired
Repair and get things running again - Independence, Missouri

February 17, 2019

Q. I am looking for a combination of resin powder and a chemical that can, upon mixing with water, create enough heat to melt the resins (there will be another wood based powder in this mix that will bond with the melted resin). Should be safe for humans afterward. Any suggestions to guide me in the proper direction? Thanks!

luis perez
- Fountain Valley, California USA

August 22, 2019

Q. Many years ago we used a heating pad that was activated with a teaspoon of water. These pads are available on e-bay as military surplus usually from the 1950s and '60s. Could you point me in the direction of what chemical was used? It seems I remember whatever was in the pad was large grain or in beads. Thank you. Mike L.

Michael Kelley
- Whitehall, Montana, USA

September 5, 2019

Q. I am just curious:
Was thinking about arctic exposure and ways to insulate clothing that could be worn in the arctic. My thinking may have went off course but I was wondering if there is an element off the p-table or a combination of elements that will have a exothermic reaction when exposed to temperatures say lower than 32 °F? Similar to warming gloves but maintains the heat until removed from said temperature? Or at least until the O2 is cut off (providing that O2 is in the equation). I am not a chemist, I was just watching a show on Siberia last night and woke up thinking about this (what can be created to help people survive in cold weather scenarios).

Thank you,

Rob Cole
- Pinellas Park, Florida

October 8, 2019

Q. I want to know if there is any chemical that can be added to water to make it hot and is perfectly safe to drink. I think it will be useful in winters.

Bhargav krishna
- new delhi, india

October 2019

A. Hi Bhargav. There is no chemical that is perfectly safe to eat or drink in unlimited quantity. But Geoff and others have mentioned heating agents that have been included in food and where to find more info about them. If those references didn't answer your question, please carefully detail exactly what scenario you have in mind and ask for clarification about the particulars. Thanks!


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

October 9, 2019

Q. Sir, I want to know if alkaline can be turned and stored as a powder or small pellets. Also I want to know if it has any reaction to aluminium and iron with or without water? Thank you. I am asking this if I can add alkaline to water and store it in can?

bhargav krishna [returning]
- new delhi, india

October 2019

A. Hi again. Alkali will attack and destroy aluminum; it has essentially no bad effect on steel.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

October 10, 2019

Hi Bhargav,

'Alkaline' isn't any specific substance; it's a descriptor for substances with a pH above neutral in water, or with the ability to counteract acidity, so there is no answer to your question until you ask it in a more precise way.

I get the feeling you are bringing this up because of that whole 'alkaline water' health fad -thanks in part to Gwyneth Paltrow for the 'expert' advice that also includes sticking coffee up your bum, so take her [utterly stupid oops did I say that out loud?] advice with a grain of salt... wish she'd just stick with acting...
IMVHO the alkaline water craze, which also apparently requires you to own a fancy 'alkaline water bottle' that costs a minimum $50 USD, is just about the stupidest cash grabby joke played on consumers since the days of the snake oil salesmen. I mean, your digestive system only works because of the strongly acidic environment your body creates, and by the time your 'alkaline water' gets past your stomach, it sure ain't alkaline any more!!

But back to the question at hand. What is your source of alkalinity? What is your can made of? And how strong a solution are you trying to make?

If you add sodium bicarbonate to water and store it in a can made of stainless steel it's a VERY different situation than adding lye to water and storing it in a can made of aluminum (which won't be a can for long!), and so on, even though both examples are in line with your question. I don't even want to say which one is safer because I don't want to encourage this trend!!! But sodium bicarb is just baking soda and goes in food all the time and won't react with stainless... might not taste the greatest but a pinch in your water bottle won't kill you. Maybe a little weirdly salty. Eww have fun with that lol!

Please, without a basic understanding of chemistry, don't try to make DIY health drinks (of dubious value) out of substances you don't understand completely. You can harm yourself badly. Please don't fall for the alkaline water silliness, watching these health fads come and go when good nutrition is already right in front of us... it just hurts my head and actually makes me wish for the old days (by which I mean probably last month ?) when we at just tried to figure out how to get that black stuff off those bank notes... ;)

Rachel Mackintosh
Plating Solutions Control Specialist / Industrial Metals Waste Treatment - Brattleboro, Vermont

October 2019

A. Thanks Rachael, good advice. 'Nature' just retracted a 1988 article they published which had made claims about structured water. Apparently the world agrees with you. But I think Bhargav wants to use an alkaline material to self-heat water based on his earlier posting.

BTW, some of those people with black banknotes aren't as credulous as you think. Many of them understand that most of the stuff in the trunk is just black paper; they just know that their real money is still mixed in with it and they just want that portion cleaned. The scammers couldn't possibly have left with their money because they kept it under watchful eye :-)


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

October 13, 2019

Q. Thanks ted and rachel for your valuable answers. I dropped the idea of alkaline. I just want to make a prototype of heat can for irani chai and coffee. after reading all threads, I have these questions left:(please)

1. how much time does calcium oxide(quick lime), calcium chloride and calcium carbide take to heat respectively?

2. do they heat faster if we increase their ratio to that of water?

3. do they leave any residue behind and how safe it is?

4. which of them is the safest and has faster, higher boiling potential

thank you.

bhargav krishna [returning]
- new delhi

October 14, 2019

Hi, I'm in 7th grade and we are doing a project to create hot packs. I need a chemical that when mixed with water creates heat. I prefer something that's not too harmful and heats up to 131 °F or 55 °C. please, and thanks.

Avery T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- kansas city, Missouri

October 14, 2019

A. Hi Avery,

Anhydrous copper sulfate (CuSO4) will heat up rapidly when water is added to it forming CuSO4·5H2O.

A small amount of it (half a teaspoon) with about that much water should heat up enough that it becomes too hot to handle (as my chemistry teacher once demonstrated using an unfortunate volunteer).

You can acquire anhydrous copper sulfate by heating up CuSO4·5H2O in a crucible over a bunsen burner. It should go from blue crystals to white-grey powder.

You could vary the amount of CuSO4 and water to control the temperature it reaches.

Double check with your science teacher that it is indeed safe, but as far as I'm aware it is relatively safe to work with as long as you wear your safety glasses and gloves.

Ben OShea
- Katikati, New Zealand

October 20, 2019

Q. Hello from Canada. My name is Robert and I was wondering if there is a safe chemical to jump start the boiling water in a steam car like a Stanley steamer so there is a limited time before getting up a head of steam?

Robert Fear
- Nova Scotia Canada

October 2019

A. Hi Robert. An interesting concept, but a remaining problem is that such a "jump start" is a drop in the bucket. The latent heat of vaporization of water is 970 BTU/lb. whereas raising that pound of water all the way from 33 °F to 212 °F takes 179 BTU/lb., so even if you were able to achieve total efficiency in your process, the best you could hope for is supplying a small fraction of the necessary heat.

But, yes, chemically heating the water could get you started sooner. Still, considering the scaling you would have to expect from any such chemical, and the limited advantage of hot water, I think you'd find it more practical to plan on just instantaneously heating a tiny slipstream of the water, rather than preheating all of it.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

February 4, 2020

Q. Hi, this is a very interesting conversation. I was looking for something that when mixed with water can raise its temperature and can then be used for cleaning. I thought about quicklime but then i think it would not be useful for cleaning.

Ankit Gaur
- Highlands Ranch, Colorado USA

simultaneous February 5, 2020

A. Hi Ankit,

You may dissolve caustic soda with water (say 5% w/v) which is exothermic reaction for cleaning purpose.


David SHIU
- Singapore

February 5, 2020

Calcium oxide (quicklime) was used in the middle ages as a defensive weapon - it can blind you if it gets in your eyes. Calcium carbide with water generates acetylene, extremely flammable and in contact with certain metals produces highly sensitive and unstable explosives.

There is a mountain of information available on steam boilers and control of the water they used from the days when steam ran the world. I think the answer to your question is the "Flash Boiler" which was used in some early automobiles. You might find interesting.

Wikepedia has a very good article on hand warmers

Remember: generating heat is one thing, controlling it is another. Please be careful.

Geoff Smith
- Hampshire UK

February 5, 2020

thumbs up sign Thanks, these comments were very helpful.

Ankit Gaur
- Highlands Ranch, Colorado USA

Boiling water

March 20, 2020

Q. Looking for the chemical or thing, when mixing it with water start, water should start self-heating up to its boiling point and that water should be drinkable. Is there any other safe ways then also suggest.

Akshay Patel
Researcher - Ahmedabad, India

March 2020

thumbs up sign Hi Akshay. Welcome! But sorry, starting over 3 years and 60+ postings later is usually nothing but the kiss of death to a posting because people have already invested a lot of their time & effort on detailed responses. So, instead, please keep it interesting by asking for clarification on something someone has posted. Thanks!


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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