Frequently Asked Questions

Inquiries should be posted on the user forum: http://handwarmers.forumotion.com/

Q: Which parts do I need to rebuild my handwarmer?
A: The typical handwarmer rebuild project will use some catalyst material, a spring, and some carbon felt strips. For more details on how to use them, pls refer to the videos in our Youtube channel.

Q: How long will shipping take?
A: We are located in Canada. We ship via Letterpost as it is much cheaper than the next level which is small packet air. How Letterpost works:

  1. Maximum thickness of package is 2cm, and max weight for first rate is 100G. (This means things containing bottles such as deodorizer must go Small Packet Air to USA and Expedited Parcel to Canada, and Expresspost for International.
  2. There is no tracking available for Letterpost.
  3. Average time to the USA is 8-10 working days (which effectively means 2-3 weeks from time of order).
  4. Do not make payment if you are unable to wait this long, and we will cancel your order.
  5. Insurance is not an option for Letterpost shipments.
  6. There is no action that can be taken in the event of non-delivery. We cannot start at trace on our end, because there is no tracking number.
  7. Our packages are sent with the correct CN-22 customs compliance information on it so it should not be held up in customs.

Q: I'm wondering if my order got through to you. I think I've placed it twice using the order form, but I can't tell if either has gone through successfully.
A: If the order form submits, you get an acknowledgement right away, and usually a payment request the same day. (Ordering via Tablet or Phone? Sometimes the embeded form below will not submit properly in IOS or Android. In that case, you can use this direct link to the order form: Click)

Q: Can I use the springs to rebuild my Jon-e?
A: Yes, the springs that we have to fit the common handwarmer brands that use the traditional catalyst head design where the head is not longer than 30mm, including Zippo, Jon-e, Peacock, Butterfly, Bee, Winfire, etc. We also have available a larger, heavier spring that can only fit the larger Jon-e catalyst heads.

Q: Should I repack my entire reservoir with carbon felt or just put strips on the top of the existing cotton?
A: For most, the strips are the best option because they stop the cotton from getting charred. If you existing cotton is already charred, just removed the charred bits first. The reason to repack the entire reservoir would be for a slight increase in burn time and heat performance, or if the original cotton is old, contaminated, or damaged.

Q: How high should the carbon felt be?
A: It should be even with the height of the shoulders of the reservoir, which would be about the same level as the original cotton. The neck should be an empty space and the carbon felt should not be in contact with the catalyst.

Q: My question is what are the measurements of the 2 small carbon felt strips that you sell?
A: Each strip is about 2" x 1/2" which is suitable for placing on top of the cotton packing in an existing handwarmer.

Q: Why can't I use other flammable liquids such as alcohol or solvents in my handwarmer?
A: Because a handwarmer does not burn fuel. The platinum that is in the catalyst material reacts with the vapour from the evaporating naphtha exothermically which produces heat. The fumes from other substances will not react with the platinum in the same way.

Q: Why does your catalyst not look like the catalyst in my Zippo?
A: The Zippo catalyst, by the looks of it, is presumably made in China. We have analyzed some of the Chinese pads that we sourced from different suppliers. For the Chinese handwarmer replacement pads, we are looking at a substitution of Palladium in place of Platinum (for budgetary purposes), and the inclusion of Fe—not sure what the purpose of this is.  Palladium loading is between .5% and .8% by weight. Our pads have a loading weight of 1%, but it is pure platinum in ours, which is made in the USA.

 The raw material cost of our pads is much higher than the Chinese pads (we have a more expensive metal to start with and a higher loading), but Platinum is less susceptible to contaminant poisoning which should increase the longevity of the material.

Q: After ordering and installing the springs and carbon felt in two Zippo hand warmers, I still can’t get them to light and burn. I filled them with Ronson lighter fluid in the correct amount. Does the packing in the base need to touch the catalyst? I thought it worked on the principle of evaporation. Any suggestions on what I might try to make them work?
A: As we know the materials perform very well when installed correctly, there is a high probability the user made some mistakes when installing them. Some possibilities are: 1) When he tried to start the burner, the handwarmer was too cold to start evaporation, or he did not wait long enough to let evaporation get fumes into the catalyst. One trick is to warm the handwarmer body first. 2) The cotton or carbon felt packing in the reservoir was touching the catalyst material, therefore contaminating it with liquid fuel. (make sure the spring is placed at the top of the catalyst hood, not at the bottom). 3) The catalyst material was damaged during installation by rough handling, or it is packed to tightly and thus the fumes cannot penetrate and react with the platinum.* 4) The reservoir material (cotton packing), is charred on the top and obstructing the evaporation of the fumes. When troubleshooting problems with a handwarmer, this image should always be in your mind, with the thought as to which side of this triangle has interrupted the reaction, and thus caused the handwarmer to shit the cold and unforgiving bed:


* Q: How much catalyst is required to pack a spring?
A: For the standard size spring, a piece no larger than 1/2" x 1.25" is sufficient. More is not better. Grasp the piece longitudinally between tweezers and then slide it into the spring, then tuck the protruding pieces of the catalyst into the ends of the spring.

Q: John, A friend is having problems with his rebuilt ZIPPO.   We shared the parts I ordered.   When he goes to light the warmer the catalyst flames up and the hand warmer does not get very warm at all.  I’m guessing the catalyst is contaminated by touching the carbon felt?   If it gets contaminated then is the catalyst junk or just need to be dried/aired out?
A: The flame is clear evidence of the catalyst getting contaminated with liquid naptha fuel. Of course we've all done that. I've found with the catalyst we use, it does work after it has been left to dry out for a day or so, but seems to not perform as well after it has been contaminated.  I discussed it with our catalyst manufacturer and he said in theory, liquid fuel contamination should not harm the catalyst and it should be fine once dried out. You may noticed however that it has turned a darker brown, and appears to be 'punky' in texture (like punky wood). When that happens to me, I just bite the bullet and pull the spring and replace the catalyst. Doing so reinforces the reminder to me to be careful when I'm refilling. In order not to overfill now, I always use a measured amount of fuel from a refiller bottle, normally about 25ml for the standard handdwarmer. Also remember that once you have placed the burner cap back onto the handwarmer, keep the handwarmer in an upright position so liquid fuel does not drip from the reservoir into the catalyst. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before lighting, and once it is light, try to keep it upright for awhile longer (even when placing in pocket).

Q: The evaporation of the naptha results in the release of methane. Methanol is converted to formaldehyde, which is bad for human health. Should I be concerned?
A: Good question, thanks for asking.

The naphtha fraction from the distillation of crude petroleum is used as a raw material for the manufacture of methanol. The first gas to result from the evaporation of the naptha is methane, which does not condense at room temperature and that makes it suitable for using in a hand warmer. Methanol is converted to formaldehyde when it undergoes a dehydrogenation by catalytic oxidation. Industrial production of formaldehyde uses different methods of production such as silver catalyst, or other metal oxides such as an iron-molybdenum oxide catalyst. You may think of your hand warmer with its platinum catalyst as a non-industrial anthropogenic formaldehyde production facility.

When you have an oxidizing atmosphere consequent of oxide catalysts the primary products are methyl formate and formic acid. Consecutive reactions of these products then form methanol, CO, and CO2. (Formaldehyde emitted to air primarily reacts with photochemically generated hydroxyl (OH) radicals. Products that can be formed from hydroxyl radical reaction include water, formic acid, carbon monoxide and the hydroperoxyl/ formaldehyde adduct (HCO3)). To put this into perspective, it is interesting to note that under many conditions, the radicals from formaldehyde photolysis are the most important net source of smog generation.

The moisture in your pocket is probably the result of the warm air in your pocket ecosystem causing condensation to form on the cold walls of your pocket. You may be able to address this by using clothing that breathes better such as Gore-Tex fabric.

If you are exposed to formaldehyde, many factors will determine whether you will be harmed. These factors include the dose (how much), the duration (how long), and how you come in contact with it. Things we know about formaldehyde

- Formaldehyde is a gaseous pollutant produced by both human activity and natural sources and we are exposed to it all the time. Combustion processes account directly or indirectly for most of the formaldehyde entering the environment, and include your wood burning fireplace, your furnace, cooking your food, automobile exhaust, building materials, consumer products, and tobacco smoke. Secondary atmospheric formation frequently exceeds direct emissions from combustion sources, especially during photochemical air pollution episodes as noted above, and it may contribute up to 70-90% of the total atmospheric formaldehyde withal.

- Consumer products containing formaldehyde are many (such as medicines, vitamins, cosmetics and preserved foods), but are mostly aqueous solutions.

- Formaldehyde is quickly broken down in the air, usually within hours.
- Examples of concentrations of formaldehyde:
0.0002-0.006 parts per million (ppm) in rural and suburban outdoor air
0.0015-0.047 ppm in urban outdoor air
0.020-4 ppm in indoor air

When I do a Google search, I cannot find any data regarding formaldehyde concentration from hand warmers, but of course there is lots regarding cigarette smoke. In the main stream smoke of various kinds of cigarettes the amount of formaldehyde varies between 2.3 to 6.1 ppm. In the air of lounges in hospitals formaldehyde concentrations up to 0.19 ppm can be detected after smoking of 15 cigarettes over a period of 1.5 h. In kindergartens without tobacco smoke the formaldehyde concentrations in air range from 0.005 to 0.01 ppm. The smoking of 30 cigarettes and one pipe in a non ventilated room over 1.5 h exceeded formaldehyde concentrations between 0.21 to 0.45 ppm.

- When you breathe air containing formaldehyde, most of the formaldehyde is quickly broken down in the cells lining your respiratory tract and breathed out. Only at high levels does formaldehyde enter your blood.

- Once in your body, formaldehyde is rapidly broken down into other chemicals. Most of these other chemicals quickly leave your body in the urine. Formaldehyde can also be converted to carbon dioxide and breathed out of the body.

- With regard to your concerns about exposure to formaldehyde from your hand warmer, it's probably best to consider how much exposure you are subjected to in light of the above. I probably would prefer not to sleep with both my head and my hand warmer inside my sleeping bag at the same time, nor would I place Hammy, my beloved pet hamster (who generates enough power with his wheel to keep this computer going), in my coat pocket alongside my handwarmer to keep him warm.

Q: So are lithium batteries the best to use in the S Boston hand warmer?
A: For general use I'd use a rechargeable NiMh cell such as Eneloop's. However with those you must remember that the handwarmer is an analog device so it has the potential to fully discharge the batteries and kill them, so be sure to recharge once a week. This also helps with ignition because fully charge NiMh has a higher voltage. Lithium primary cells such as Energizer Lithium would be what I'd use if I was going travelling where I could not recharge batteries.

Q: I still have some questions, can you call me please?
A: I sometimes get voicemail where the caller has a question and asks for a call-back. A growing number of end users seem to have common questions that have either already been answered in the videos, the FAQ, or are self evident. For questions that have not been covered, then it's best if the entire community can take advantage of the answer. So it's best to email your question, then I can cut and paste the question and the answer into the FAQ for everyone to benefit from.

Q: I don't have Paypal (USA/International), or electronic banking (Interac/Canada), can I send a cheque?
A: No, we do not take cheques. Why? Because they are a pain for many reasons. Our US Bank account is in the USA, but we are located in Canada. They take weeks to arrive and by then stock may have run out, or we have to hold stock and find the buyer changed their mind and never notified us. Once the cheque arrives, we have to take it to the bank and stand in line to deposit it, or mail it again to our US Bank account for deposit, and pay postage and a fee for doing so. The cheque then takes a couple more weeks to clear, and when it does, the buyer also pays the bank a fee for processing the cheque he wrote. If the cheque bounces, our bank then slaps us with a harsh penalty. That's a lot of effort for an instrument that may represent a few bucks in profit margin. I appreciate that there are many 'boomers' from my generation that have reservations about using electronic forms of payment but still want to be able to order goods online. Usually the best solution for that is to wait for Facebook, Instagram, or Candy Crush to go offline for a few minutes and use the opportunity to get one of your younger extended family members to remove their earbuds or bluetooth headphones for a few minutes and help out by using their electronically enabled account and then pay them back.

Q: I don't have a Paypal account, and I'm not going to start one, why not take debit or credit cards?
A: That's fair enough. Paypal was created to service the needs of online shoppers. Our service is an online service. There are other online payment providers, and we have tried some, and they have proven to be more problematic than Paypal (EG: Google Wallet). If you do not shop online then your alternative always remains using a brick and mortar outlet to source your goods. We used to take credit cards, but processing a credit card or debit card in a foreign currency (we are in Canada) increases our costs and labour to process the order. As many small orders may be as low as $15.00, it is not practical to to spend even more of our time and pay even higher fees to make a profit of a couple of bucks. Starting a Paypal account is not really that difficult, but if you do not want to start one, that is totally up to you. If you do start a Paypal account, it must be funded by your Bank Account and not your credit card. If it isn't then it is not eligible for our cheapest shipping rate. Also if your Paypal account is not verified, we cannot ship to you until it is. Again, these measure are not difficult to achieve. If you are unable to fulfill this criteria, then it is a waste of your time to fill in the order form, as it will not be eligible for order fulfillment.