An instant ice pack is basically a plastic bag that is filled with frozen gel that can stay in very low temperatures for a prolonged period of time. If compared with the standard ice packs, instant packs do not need storage in a freezer before they can be used and can instantaneously freeze with the help of a chemical reaction. These instant ice packs are utilized for first aid measures and medical treatments and for food storage.
How instant ice packs work?
Instant ice packs utilize an endothermic reaction between ammonium nitrate and water in order to achieve cool temperature quickly. The endothermic reaction occurs once two separate compounds interact to absorb energy in the form of heat. Before an instant ice pack is used, the water and ammonium nitrate are held in separate tubes. Once the tubes are broken, the ammonium nitrate and water combine, triggering an endothermic reaction resulting to the freezing of the water.
Once the water freezers, it prevents all of the ammonium nitrate from mixing completely with the water. The moment the ice melts, the water mixes with the extra ammonium nitrate, resulting to additional endothermic reactions and forcing the melted ice to refreeze. Due to this process, an instant ice pack stays frozen and stays at a very low temperature for a long period even if stored or used at room temperature.
Different uses of instant ice packs
Instant ice packs are very useful in the preservation of food aside from first aid treatments, especially in situations where it is not possible to refrigerate food for extended periods. The water from instant ice packs cannot mix with food unlike with pure ice. Of course, these ice packs can provide superior freezing power than pure ice.
In the medical field, instant ice packs are utilized extensively during emergencies and non-emergency situations. The cold temperature produced by the ice packs can numb and constrict the muscles, preventing them from becoming overworked and eventually allowing them to heal.
These instant ice packs are small in size and easy to transport, this is why they have been the preferred choice in first aid kits. Additionally, they are also reusable which makes them cost effective.
Precautions when using instant ice packs
The proper application of instant ice packs must be observed to prevent ice burn. It should be applied not more than 20 minutes and instruct the individual not to forget the pack. Just like with any pain relief treatment, there are precautions to bear in mind when using instant ice packs.
- Do not apply directly on the skin. Apply a protective barrier between the ice pack and skin such as a cloth or towel.
- Limit the application of ice only to 15-20 minutes at a time.
- The application of ice is not suitable for individuals who have certain medical conditions such as those who have Raynaud’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, paralysis, cold allergies or if there are areas that have impaired sensation.
The application of instant ice packs is very useful during the initial 48 hours after an injury that causes strain on the back muscles.