Electricity, Chemistry, Fire, and Short Sleeves


Battery-powered clothing needs safety inspections. Chemical-heat packets can be dangerously hot if they tear and may not last enough hours anyway. People probably used to carry fire in their pockets, but devices like that are probably too dangerous. On the other hand, short sleeves are dramatic as winter wear, and you sacrifice approximately nothing in warmth.

Electric Clothes

I’m told electric clothing exists. Bad idea, probably. It wears out. You’ll have to inspect the electrical insulation on every conductor from time to time, especially after cleaning, folding, or rough use. The only way to check is to eyeball every inch in and out. All of the insulated wiring is likely hidden from sight, so you’ll have to peel the clothing apart and put it together again to wear. You probably won’t have time.

Don’t get an electric blanket, either. One fire department recommends replacing them within ten years but, except for fashion mavens, I doubt most peoople remember to do that. Inspection by an expert every three years has also been recommended, but how many of us will do that? You’re not looking at it most of the time, if you’re either asleep or not in your bedroom, so you don’t even get an early warning of a problem. That fire department has even been against anyone using them for sleeping (see also its Twitter post). If you have one, don’t even give it away. Trash it.

Get warm clothing that doesn’t need a battery.

Chemical Heat

Chemical-heat packets you can put into your gloves, mittens, or pockets exist. Some bigger ones were sold for medical first aid use. I don’t recommend them just for staying warm in winter.

Some packets I’ve seen have to be squeezed for a moment. Then they get hot, even too hot to touch, and might stay that way for hours. That’s great, but it seems that if they tear open then you might get a chemical burn. The doctor will see you now.

Even when it stays intact, once it’s been used up, in many cases it can’t be used again. You’d have to buy more, at least one per day.

A warm coat is more affordable, will not harm you, and lasts years.

Fire in Your Pocket

Fire you could carry in your stuff goes back to ancient times. Pocket fire-like devices were sold more recently, in the s, but some of them are dangerous and unnecessary.

The 5,000-year-old man whose body was found in the last few decades in a melting Alpine glacier was apparently carrying a live ember wrapped in large leaves. But he probably did not intend it as a way to stay warm while walking over the snow-covered mountains, or I think he would have had several spread around his body. Instead, it was likely he carried it so he could start a campfire later. And we don’t know how many embers burst into open flame inside clothing.

I don’t think even the s design was safe. It used lighter fluid. Maybe it was supposed to smolder but I think the one I had flamed up.

Safer ones are made to work with air and carbon, charcoal, or iron compounds. But I wouldn’t want one today if it uses a flammable liquid, because I doubt it would be safe, warm enough, economical, and practical.

Short Sleeves Catch Eyes

If you’re comfortably warm enough with a shirt and nothing over it, there’s almost no difference between long and short sleeves. You can roll them up. It looks dramatic when other people are wearing coats.




Dress Warm
with Less

Near-Synonymy

dry chemical heat packs; dry chemical heatpacks; exothermic reaction; sodium acetate; heating blankets; electric bed covers; heating bed covers; heated mattress pads; heated pads






Forget electric clothing, chemical-heat packets, and fire in a pocket. Short sleeves often are dramatic and harmless.