Things that could substitute for old fashioned bed warmers... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

Category - Heat & Warmth

I've been thinking about how it used to be people would place things in the fire/near the fire to get hot, then wrap them in cloth and use them as warmers.

Our contingency plan for heat if we're without power is probably not the best, but as far as I can tell it will be better than nothing. A fireplace. I think it would be good to be able to have things similar to the bed warmers of old to have to help with warmth. No doubt we will be living/sleeping in the same room with the fire place, but I know my family has a tendency toward being cold. (For the past 10+ years I have had the tendency toward being warm, but forwhatever reason my 'poles' seemed to have shifted this year and right now with an indoor temp of 70 I have on a sweat shirt and fleece jacket and am feeling coolish-- cruel twist of fate... just in time for y2k)

Anyway, I think somewhere we have some of those old fashioned irons, and realize they would work pretty well-- if I can find them. (Sigh).

Do others here have suggestions for things that can absorb and endure heat that can work in a similar way? And can anyone comment on whether the the approx 4 inch by 4 inch "pavers" (paving bricks) would work? Or just get fireplace bricks somewhere?

I know the caution not to heat any stones that have been from a river or any body of water because they can explode when heated-- or for that matter any brick/block that might have a high moisture content (i.e., I think cinder blocks do not hold up to heat....). But I'm not sure about the pavers and I don't know how they were manufactured. I happened to ask about them and fireplaces at a building/hardware superstore, the guy said they couldn't be used for fireplaces-- so then I asked, "No, but what about for use in outside fire pits?" He said they should be okay for that. So anyone? Either comments about pavers and heat or other warming item ideas...


-- winter wondering (, October 04, 1999



I have a friend that used to warm rocks in or near the fire and put them into the foot of her son's bed to warm it up. I've read about people warming small sacks of sand, and using them for pocket handwarmers. Don't know the specifics, but some clever person out there may { or can figure out a way. Muslin sacks, perhaps?}.

The Indians here used to boil water by throwing hot rocks out of the fire into a water filled basket, and stirring until the water boiled {they didn't have clay pots}.

For keeping food warm when packing out for a late campout - I use a cardboard box lined with layers of newspaper. I take the hot food out of the oven along with plain clay tiles & assorted granite rocks that I've heated alongside. Throw a space blanket over the top & you've got a warm meal after you've set up camp!

I would think bricks would work out fine, might be a bit large for all applications though. Maybe what I consider a plain terra cotta tile is something akin to your paver. Good luck!

-- flora (***@__._), October 04, 1999.

Winter, I plan to take two of those shiney survival sheets and put them between the top and bottom sheets. They are only $3.00 but I am looking for the heavier ones that are more durable.

It only takes a few minutes for your body heat to reflect back. Another hint is to wear warm socks to bed.

Good Luck!

-- Fox (, October 04, 1999.

WalMart has large pizza/baking stones for under $10. I plan on using one on top of my fireplace insert for a cooking surface. It will be great to use as a griddle, biscuit and cookie sheet. I think it will be a dandy bed warmer too! Can even be used on the grill for a baking surface. Hint: to use for baking, saturate the top surface of the stone in cooking oil before use. The darker the stone, the better it bakes. I have had no food sticking to mine at all. I oiled it every use until it became very dark.

-- Carol (, October 04, 1999.

The item that has come into its own for us is a feather comforter.

I first ran into these in Germany where many buildings are not well heated in the winter. At least I slept warm if not lived warm in the winter.

They are light and warm to sleep under, though bulky to store, don't vacuum pack these things as their insulation value will be destroyed,

A good winter weight one is great but expensive though you should only need one of those if you are expecting a really cold winter and no other heat.

A medium weight isn't too expensive and you can get them at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, or Linen's and Things.

-- Steve Cooper (, October 04, 1999.

Be carful about down filled bedding. Most of the ones you buy may not be real down, but a mixutre of feathers. My daughter bought a very expensive down comforter and in a few weeks the smell coming from the comforter was horrible! We had to take it back to the store. It seemed the store was receiving all of them back, the feathers still had bits of flesh of the birds attached, yuk. Be sure to check the ratio of feathers to down and if it is really down being used. Buy from a store that you can return the item.

-- Carol (, October 04, 1999.

Fox, I would only use the shiny "emergency blankets" for an emergency. I bought one for my wife (because I was tired of her cold feet on by legs) and we found that it makes you very sweaty. I guess it doesn't breathe.

-- (, October 04, 1999.

When I was a child and anyone was ill, my grandmother would heat a brick and wrap it in a towel and put it by their feet in the bed. Ummm, that felt SO good that I recall it fondly. Brick is a great holder of heat. They say if you live in a brick house, it also holds heat well, and I have also watched that this summer, while watching the temperature of my indoor storage room and the exterior, on one of those dual thermometers.

-- Elaine Seavey (, October 04, 1999.

Heating bricks sounds like a good idea. I would be a little wary of heating rocks, as some rocks may have enough moisture in them to cause them to explode when heated (and the moisture turnes to steam).

Fireplaces for heat can be misleading. Older style fireplaces sometimes were so poorly designed that although they would heat a person in front of them with radiant heat, they pulled so much air from the room that they were in up the chimney that the end result was that they made the room, and the house, colder. This may not be true of fireplaces with some kind of metal insert or jacket that allows them to heat air from the room and recirculate it into the room.

-- Jim (, October 04, 1999.

In England you can still find antique warming pans for warming the bed.Basically a copper or brass round pan about 4 ins in depth with a hinged lid & a handle.The hot bricks were put inside the pan to save the sheets etc getting dirty.They also used to heat cherry stones.

What is wrong with a hotwater bottle?You can always reheat the same water.

-- Chris (, October 04, 1999.

Cats work for me (: I think they have a body temp of 106 degrees :)

Mike Oehler, the author of the $50 and Up Underground House Book and the Hippy Survival Guide for Y2K has a lot of tips about build a warm nest to sleep in.

One that I remember off hand involved turning a couch upside down against a wall to form a 4 sided tube which you stuff with the cloths from your closet to build a warm nest to sleep in.

-- Dennis Law (, October 04, 1999.

Keeping warm will be a challenge. I have 2 of the old fashioned over the open fire popcorn poppers with long handles. We Plan on putting well chosen heated stones in them and then using as a bed warmer to pre-warm sheets/sleeping bags during the coldest times. I also purchased an antique carriage foot warmer made of hollowed out stone, you put in hot water and then the cork and sit with your feet on it, the stone holds heat from the water for quite a while.

-- Sammie (, October 04, 1999.

Love my cats, but haven't slept with them since "the college incident."

When one sleeps, their legs and feet move around. Cats may find this a fascinating phenomenon to "pounce upon." Nothing like sitting straight up in bed in the middle of the night, screaming, with a cats claws embedded in your foot.

-- marsh (, October 04, 1999.

Three dog night.....that's a cold night.

-- tc (, October 04, 1999.

The woman whose team wins the Alaska Iditarod dog-sled race almost every year (her name escapes me) says 4-dog nights are the coldest she's experienced. The idea is to stuff 'em (dogs) into your bedding w/ you.

Got allergies?

-- PH (, October 04, 1999.

Mutti sez get(make) a wool will never be cold again. We have had ours for 15 years or more; can be recovered if the top gets worn. We got ours at Frankenmuth Woolen Mills in Frankenmuth,MI. They sell all sizes and colors--not cheap but yours forever. My mom had hers since college in the 30's! Every spring we send it up to MI and they wash it,fluff the wool and can add wool if you want it fluffier. Wool is warm in the winter and cool in the summer; we use ours all year long. The dog is scared of the waterbed anyhow !!

-- Mutti (, October 04, 1999.

The only thing I can think of that nobody has mentioned yet: Heat water in your fireplace, then fill old fashioned rubber hot water bottles for your beds. Get em at the drugstore.

-- mommacarestx (, October 04, 1999.

The material you are looking for is called soapstone. It is a very soft stone that is capable of absorbing huge amounts of BTU's and then gently releasing the stored heat over time. The Wookstock Soapstone Co. sells them for about $8 or $10 for a pair of "bootwarmers". Their telephone is: 800-866-4344. Usual disclaimers apply, no financial interests, etc. just wanted to source this for you.

-- Sure M. Worried (SureMWorried@about.Y2K.coming), October 04, 1999.

I've tried a lot of techniques for bringing warmth into the sleeping bag, on camping trips, but nothing works better than my hot rock (No, I'm not being quiet and listen).

About 20 years ago, I found this rock on a camping trip that was a little over a foot long and about 4 inches around and perfectly smooth. No jagged edges anywhere. That put in a fire for an hour, and then wrapped in a towel and stuffed inside your sleeping bag, will keep you cozy all night long.

I still have that rock, and wouldn't trade it for a ton O beans, if I was starving.

If you live in a limestoney area, like I do (Limestone! Very jagged! Very uncomfortable to sleep with!), or an area with mostly soft sandstones and shales (You'll wake up with a sleeping bag full of grit!), I'd go to a stone supply company and ask if they have any Carolina River Rock. It's basically rounded large pebbles/small boulders (It always sounds peculiar to me, to call a rock that is bigger than a grapefruit a "pebble", but that's the technical word for what I'm talking about).

If you want to avoid the strange looks you'll get, if you ask to buy just one, take along a five gallon bucket and fill it. They get lots of people who come in to buy small quantities, for garden edging. A bucket load will cost you about 7 bucks, but if you have a family, that's probably a good amount to have, anyway. Most places will let you go into the yard to select your own, so you can make sure you don't get any broken ones. They're largely quartz and do have some mighty sharp edges, when broken (Don't work, you won't break them, by rolling over on them).

If they don't have Carolina River Rock, look for granite cobbles (Cobblestone blocks) Not quite as smooth as the river rock, but less sharp edges than a brick, and a better holder of heat.

-- Bokonon (, October 04, 1999.

Thanks everyone for the responses! Far too many to respond to each here, but I'll throw in a couple of things:

Nothing wrong with a hot water bottle-- I just hadn't thought of it. Wanted to also thank the person who wrote me a private e-mail about water bottles.

The pavers I was thinking of are used for paving paths and are about 4" by 4" by 2". They remind me of cobblestones, but these are formed out of some other material. I'm not convinced they will not shatter/ explode if heated too much.

Bokonon-- About the Carolina River Rocks. They sound really good, but I'm concerned that if they are true to their name, and thus actually from a river, that they have the potential to explode when heated.

I like the soapstone idea, although in doing a quick web search there was a 'dangers of soapstone' page I came across. Probably more a concern if one is carving the stuff, but apparently some types contain asbestos. So if you're going to get some, might want to make sure it's asbestos-free.

More background: Our other "heat" factors include sleeping bags rated to 20 F. Some of the heavier duty 'all weather' blankets. Fleece "hoods" (when night caps were worn on your head...) Lots of layers and warm winter clothing, lots of other blankets and comforters. Vellux. And a few pets. But I'm thinking of these 'warmers' not just necessarily for times when sleeping, but also for anytime to help take a chill off. After coming inside, a way to warm the side away from the fire, and that kind of thing.

Oh, about the fireplace. Our fireplace is not very big. It's one of those 'zero-clearance' types. The house is about 10 years old. I've heard the comments many times that often a fireplace will actually draw colder air into a place. And I've repeated the same sentiments on other threads about heat or wood or ... That's why I even said it's probably not the best, but that as far as I can tell it will be better than nothing. So when evaluating statements like that, I have to ask, realistically, is it better to have a fire in a fireplace and risk drawing more cold air in, or to go without heat completely?

-- winter wondering (, October 05, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr near Monterey, California

The woman whose team wins the Alaska Iditarod dog-sled race almost every year (her name escapes me) says 4-dog nights are the coldest she's experienced.

There's actually quite a few women who have won or done well in the Iditarod, but you're probably thinking of Susan Butcher.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), October 05, 1999.

What about wrapping baked potatoes... you could always fry them for breakfast.

-- Mumsie (, October 07, 1999.

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