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Bringing Hand Warmers on a Plane – What You Need to Know!

When traveling by airplane, one must always take into account those things that are allowed and not allowed in your baggage.

At times, it seems relatively random about what is allowed and not allowed.

Some who use hand warmers for their chronically freezing hands or feet may wonder if hand warmers are permitted or not.


Can You Bring Hand Warmers on a Plane?

You can bring most types of hand warmers on a plane. Battery-powered, air-activated, and crystallization hand warmers are allowed in checked bags and carry-on bags. However, hand warmers that utilize lighter fluid or charcoal are prohibited.


Approved Types of Hand Warmers

While most individuals will think of disposable air-activated hand warmers when thinking about the topic.

There are quite a few different types of hand warmers available to consumers.

This section will go over each type of approved hand warmer, how they work, and why they are allowed on an airplane.


Air-Activated Hand Warmers

The conventional air-activated hand warmer is activated when you crack a substance inside a bag that then causes a reaction that releases heat.

Generally speaking, this chemical reaction is controlled oxidization of metal.

In essence, when you activate the bag, the air is introduced into a combination of cellulose, iron, salt, and water which causes the reaction and heating effect.

While many of these hand-warming products contain warnings for flammability, TSA guidelines do not restrict these hand warmers from air travel. You can pack these in checked bags and carry-ons.

These hand warmers work well and are disposable after use. These disposable warmers will be the best option for those who feel they only need a hand warmer for special occasions.


Battery Powered Hand Warmers

There are a large variety of battery-powered hand warmers for those looking for a reusable source for warming their hands.

These types of hand warmers come in all shapes and sizes with a large variety and range of prices. Yet, they generally are charged through some form of USB charger, and provide a pouch, handle, or something for the warming of your hands.

The TSA allows these battery-powered hand warmers in both carry-on and checked bags at the airport. They do not contain any liquids or dangerous substances that would be flagged.

Those looking for a more permanent and reusable solution for their cold hands may look into a battery-powered model.


Crystallization Hand Warmers

Crystallization hand warmers are a type of reusable hand warmer activated by flexing a metal disc or strip that stimulates the crystallization process that releases heat.

These hand warmers are fantastic due to the initial chemical reaction, but they do not last as long as other hand warmers.

Also, because these pouches are in a liquid state before use, they fall under the TSA’s rules for liquids on planes.

If you choose to pack a crystallization hand warmer, you must ensure that the pouch holds less than 3.7 ml of liquid to be within TSA guidelines.

But, if your hand warmer does meet that criterion, then it can be placed in check and carry-on luggage.

After you have used these crystalizing hand warmers, you simply need to boil the pouch until it is liquid again, and then let it cool before flexing the metal piece inside to start the whole process again.

These are effective and reusable hand warmers. However, due to the liquid state that they are in, travelers will have to make sure to meet TSA guidelines.

They also may have to endure a more detailed search of their luggage if not packed with other liquids and creams.


Prohibited Types of Hand Warmers

The following types of hand warmers are still effective and relatively safe. However, these hand warmers will not be allowed on planes and could be confiscated by airport security.

This section will explain how these hand warmers work and why they will not be allowed in the air.


Charcoal Hand Warmers

In essence, a charcoal hand warmer is a particular case that you put a piece of charcoal inside of to heat your hands.

While these hand warmers are practical and reasonably safe, they are not allowed in your baggage due to the use of live coals.

To use these hand warmers, one must use a live flame to ignite the charcoal while in the casing and then be warmed by a burning piece of coal.

Because of the live flame and the potential fire risk of charcoal, these kinds of hand warmers are prohibited.


Lighter Fluid Hand Warmers

Like the charcoal models, the lighter fluid hand warmers use lighter fluid as fuel to warm your hands.

According to the TSA, lighter fluid is a banned substance, so you cannot even carry a small container of less than 3.7 ml.

The use of lighter fluid on this form of hand warmer is a non-starter in air travel.


Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Hand Warmers on a Plane


What if my air-activated hand warmer is activated while packed away?

Despite the potential risk of your luggage carrying hand warmers getting jostled and activating a warmer, the TSA does not fear this as a fire risk. The heat generated is probably not sufficient to ignite other materials.


Can I use my hand warmer while on the flight?

TSA allows for approved hand warmers to be used during the flight.


If you have chronically cold hands and feet or plan on traveling to a cold location, make sure to pack the hand warmers that will make the trip with you.

Travel well, and please keep your hand and feet comfortably toasty with approved hand warmers.