Hydration Beads Cooling Band

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About: I like to try anything once and dabble in a bit of everything.

Intro: Hydration Beads Cooling Band

Hydration beads, floral bead, water beads, polymer beads are all the same thing. Typically used in fancy floral arrangements, these wonderful hydration beads have the magical ability to absorb water. They can hold water for several days before they dehydrate. Toss them in water to re-hydrate to use them again. Here, I'll show you how to use these beads to make a really simple cooling band.

Step 1: Materials

The most important item that you are going to need to find are the hydration beads. They can come fully hydrated as shown in the photo, usually in the floral section. You can also find them dehydrated in small packages. If you can find them hydrated in a jar, you should just need one (you'll need at least two packages if you find them dehydrated).

You will also need a bandana and a sewing machine.

Step 2: Dehydrate

If your hydration beads are already hydrated, your first step is to dehydrate them. Lay them out on a flat surface and allow them to dehydrate. It will take about a week to fully dry out. As you can see in the photo, there is a huge difference in size!

If you have found dehydrated beads, bonus! You can completely skip this step.

Unfortunately most that are sold are already hydrated.

Step 3: Lay Out Your Bandana

Take out your bandana and fold it in half. Here, you could cut it narrower, or leave it as is.

Step 4: Sew in and Lock Pockets

Next, sew in some pockets (3cm wide), put in about a teaspoon of dehydrated beads, and sew the pocket shut. Sew the seams at least twice so that the beads stay locked in.

Step 5: Soak in Water

When you are ready to activate the band, toss it in the sink or a bucket of cold water. Leave it in there for 15-20 minutes to allow the bead to fully re-hydrate. Now you are ready to wear!

When you are done using your band, leave it out in the open to dehydrate fully. When dehydrated the beads will return to their shrunken state. To reactive toss it back in water.

Wear around your neck, head, arms, wherever! Stay Cool!

Step 6: Cooling Power!

MartinPhx had asked about the temperature difference of the cooling band. So I've done a little experimenting.

The outside temperature is 41C or 105.8F at 100% humidity (the temperature is including the humidex). To accurately measure the limits of the band, I selected a very hot surface. In this case the chair came to 52C or 125F. Placing the DRY DEHYDRATED band came to 41C or 105.8F. After hydrating the band for 20 minutes, and allowing the excess fabric moisture to evaporate, the temperature was 28C or 82.4F. Moving the band to another location in the shade brought the temperature down further.

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    17 Discussions

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    chuckr44

    2 months ago on Step 6

    OMG I need to make this! Thank you! Now I know what to do with these things, also called Absorbees. Very cheap on Ebay.

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    DIYJRAY

    3 months ago

    Haha, I had the exact same idea for the Water contest! Wish you luck, and I'll celebrate a win by proxy ;)

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    Violet-PersonDIYJRAY

    Reply 3 months ago

    Great minds think alike! Thanks for the kind words and here's hoping I get some votes. :)

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    MartinPhx

    3 months ago

    Violet-Person: Thanks for adding the Temperature Data! I think your results are impressive enough (20+ degree drop) to encourage other wearable applications, such as: waistband, backpact, and a "cooling vest".
    Here in Phoenix, I dampen my T-shirt before going outside for a hike or to do yardwork. It's very effective but our low humidity (usually less than 20%) dries out the shirt too quickly. The cooling beads would "last longer" and keep me cool and save me having to use my drinking water to re-wet my shirt.

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    Violet-PersonMartinPhx

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thanks for the ideas. I certainly can see other applications for the beads. I am drafting a pattern for a hat. Perhaps a vest would be also worthwhile for those long days outdoors.

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    Cat00x

    3 months ago

    I bought a commercial band similar to this and use it on hot days to wear around my neck while hiking. Stays cool for quite a while, and you can whip it around in the air to cool it back down again.... Great instructable. Now I want to make one! Thank you.

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    MartinPhx

    3 months ago

    Thx for your clear and concise Instructible. Question: If the beads require a week to lose all their water, I'd assume that the evaporative cooling effect must be very prolonged -- but minimal. Have you measured the temperature of your cooling band (hydrated vs dehydrated) in a hot environment?
    Also, do you know if anyone sells "Hydration Beads" (or similar products) having different rates of water loss? I live in Phoenix AZ, so if I make your Cooling Band, I'd want to use beads that surrender their water in just HOURS, not days. Thanks.

    4 replies
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    Violet-PersonMartinPhx

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thanks for the comment. I have not measured the temperature but I will explore that and get back to you. Just from personal use they stay at a consistent cooling rate no matter how hot it is. Mind you, the temperatures I deal with are much more humid. I imagine in a dryer environment the dehydration would be more rapid. As for the beads, I have seen them in various sizes - floral designers have larger ones that have a higher rate of dehydration.

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    MartinPhxViolet-Person

    Reply 3 months ago

    Violet-Person, Thx for quick reply with very useful additional info. I will buy some beads and start experimenting. /Martin in Phx.

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    Violet-PersonMartinPhx

    Reply 3 months ago

    No problem! I will test the temperature tomorrow. It is forcasted to go above 40C/104F with humidex - I'll let you know the results.

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    snowf7

    3 months ago

    After wearing them, they can be rinsed and stored with a little water in a zip-lock bag in the fridge. The water can be scented with a little fabric softener to keep them from smelling like wet mittens.

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    Violet-Personsnowf7

    Reply 3 months ago

    They could be stored in water for long time use. However once dehydrated they can be stored for cooler seasons, and be rehydrated and be used again. If allowed to dehydrate, they have no wet sock smell. I have never kept them constantly hydrated, but is a good tip if you wanted to.

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    belsey

    Tip 3 months ago on Step 5

    You can also cut open a diaper and use the powder... or go to the garden supply store and get some there -- both of the above will be dehydrated, and probably cheaper than the decorative beads. This is a great use of the beads though, wherever you find them!

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    Violet-Personbelsey

    Reply 3 months ago

    That's right! I forgot about the stuff in diapers. Excellent point!

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    Lorddrake

    Question 3 months ago

    I see the pockets you created near the fold of the bandana. do you cut off the excess triangle of material above the pockets, or do you just wrap that material around the pocket areas?

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    Violet-PersonLorddrake

    Answer 3 months ago

    You can do both. I made one first by cutting off the excess. Then I got a request to make another but leave it on so it looks still like a tied bandana. It's preference really.