How Do Heat Packs Work 

If you’re like me and have to use heat packs to relieve pain from certain muscle groups, then I expect that you wonder how they work. It’s a simple combustion-like process and something that you should certainly be aware of. 

There are two types of heat packs and they work in a similar way. You can get the more commercial heat packs that contain iron and water and another which is more for medical use that has supersaturated sodium acetate in. 

But how do they work? 

The more commercial heat pack contains iron, water and normally comes in a mesh-like bag or sleeve. The way it works is that it has a combustion reaction when oxygen makes contact with the iron and water. These are normally packed in plastic outer packaging and once opened the oxygen will flow through to what’s inside of the mesh bag (the iron and water) causing it to heat up. 

Next, the more medical version but it can also be brought in most high streets contains supersaturated sodium acetate. These are considered medical heat packs due to their reusability.

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You’ll have to boil the heat pack in water, once boiled and cooled down to room temperature again you can click this metal circle inside of the heat pack. Once clicked this will release the sodium acetate and start the exothermic process which will untimely cause the pack to start getting hot.

In this article, we will be discussing if heat packs are good for you and how you can benefit from them. Heat packs are commonly used worldwide and have an array of health boosts that can speed up a recovery process rapidly and pull you back towards a comfort level. 

Are Heat Packs Good for You? 

Heat packs are great, and there aren’t really any negatives unless you not using them properly. The warmth that the heat pack provides can massively reduce muscle pain, joint stiffness, and any muscle spasms. 

If you look at heat packs like you do heat therapy, you’ll quickly understand the benefits behind it and how they provide a fast recovery process for those who have experienced muscle or joint issues. It boosts blood circulation, which is great as it allows high levels of nutrients and oxygen to find their way to the targeted joints or muscles. 


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Heat packs have a ton of benefits when it comes to relieving pain temporarily and long-term but another reason people like them is because they’re normally pretty discrete and can easily be hidden under most clothing. Those who experience issues like back pain find this spectacular as it can relieve pain throughout the day without being too noticeable. 

If you don’t have access to a heat pack, you can perform similar heat therapy techniques by having a hot bath or shower. 

Can You Reuse Heat Packs?

As you can tell from the above, you cannot reuse the commercial type of heat pads that have iron and water inside them. This is because they react to oxygen and once exposed, they’ll continue to get oxygen then eventually stop getting hot. 

However, you can re-use the more medical version of heat packs that had supersaturated sodium acetate in. These have a small circular metal bit inside of the heat back which contains sodium acetate, as long as there enough sodium acetate in here you’ll be able to re-use it.

To re-use it you’ll simply have to boil your heat pack again, wait for it to cool down to room temperature, and then proceed by “clicking” the sodium acetate into the heat pack. 

How Do Heat Packs Work on Muscles

One of the main reasons people use heat packs is due to their ability to reduce muscle pain for short periods of time or long term.


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Again, if you look at heat packs like heat therapy then applying a pack to an inflamed muscle will ensure that the blood vessels open which affects the muscles in the walls of your arteries and veins allowing them to pass blood through easier. It’ll also prevent your muscle from tightening the walls between your arteries and muscles and ultimately making them more open for blood flow. 

How Do Heat Packs Work for Back Pain

Another great benefit to heat packs is that they work phenomenally for people that encounter back pain. As you can imagine, it works in a similar way to how heat packs work on your muscles and the heat therapy will simply increase blood circulation to targeted areas. An increase in blood circulation is great for those who are experiencing back pain as it’ll increase the oxygen and nutrients going to this area. 

When these nutrients and oxygen head over to the heated area of the back it’ll help repair damaged muscles, decrease back stiffness, and relieve a great amount of inflammation.

All in all, any heat therapy can be greatly beneficial for back pains, and even taking a hot bath or shower can have a similar effect to having a heat pack on the inflamed area.


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Do Heat Packs Work for Period Pain?

Heat packs are used to calm and relax the muscle, which those who are experiencing period pain can benefit from.

These can be used to reduce muscle cramps or spasms and can help your lower abdomen from cramps which is the most common type of period pain. It helps relax the muscles of the uterus and also helps other core areas calm and untimely increase blood circulation that can massively decrease the amount of pain your receiving. 

However, just like most heat therapy solutions. If you don’t have access to a heat pack then having a hot bath or shower can have a similar effect and reduce the amount of pain your in. But just like all solutions, they must be used moderately and safely.

While a hot temperature can’t make your period worse, too much heat can increase stress and this can have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.