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Hand warmer in PyeongChang Olympics

Posted February. 08, 2018 08:13,   

Updated February. 08, 2018 08:13


Although mostly favored by camp-goers now, a hot water-bottle used to be a winter essential for every household in the past. A steel bottle or a rubber bag filled with hot water was used to warm our body for several hours even in the most severe winter weather. A recent TV broadcast of a soccer game in England captured images of one player sitting on a bench and warming his body with a hot water-bottle on his face.

A pocket warmer has been a good substitute in the open air. A lighter-shaped pocket warmer creates heat by burning fuels in the body, which was quickly replaced by a hand warmer. A liquid-type hand warmer with a metal button inside to initiate exothermal function was later upgraded to a powder-type hand warmer. Hand warmers are used everywhere in the winter from hiking, fishing and in the military on the back of its simple use and excellent heat conservation. Hand warmers are used in multiple ways, too. It can be stuck to foot or back or kept in a vest. Hand warmers create heat occurring from oxidization of iron powder inside. The downside is that it can be used only once as the powder is no longer available to create heat after thermally oxidized.

U.S. National Team athletes will wear innovative, exothermic jumper at the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Battery-powered exothermic clothing with a thin wire threaded into the fabric has been developed previously, but a new jumper will transmit electricity by conductive inks printed on the inner side of the jumper, making it much lighter and providing more mobility. The performance level could be degraded after washing, but it has been reported that Korean researchers have developed an exothermic element in the form of a thread whose performance remains strong even after washing, which is close to commercialization. The hurdles appear to be overcome soon.

No matter how soon exothermic clothing is developed, the issue is price. That makes a hand warmer a more affordable option. Although the cold spell hitting the Korean Peninsula weakens, the temperature will stay around minus 5 degrees Celsius during the Olympics opening ceremony. Overseas leaders and delegates are supposed to warm their body with coat, blanket and hand warmer. It is hard to estimate how many hand warmers would be sold during the Olympics and the Paralympics, but this writer hopes for more hand warmers to be sold during the events. In other words, it means more audience to cheer the athletes competing in Pyeongchang. If so, the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will warm the Korean Peninsula to dissolve ongoing tensions.

Sung-Won Joo swon@donga.com