FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to devices for generating a vapour when activated by heat
There are a variety of occasions and circumstances when a user may wish to produce a vapour. For example, when children develop blocked noses, congestion and head colds, it often has the direct effect of causing restless and sleepless nights. The knock-on effect is that parents also have restless nights.
Insect repellent vapours are also useful, if not essential, in certain climates. Typically, these are aimed at mosquitoes and other flying insects that feed on human hosts, potentially with very harmful effects, such as malaria.
There is also a growing belief in the beneficial effects of certain types of aroma on the wellbeing of the person(s) inhaling it. Such “aromatherapy” is a growing market.
However, in all instances, the manner in which the aroma or vapour is released is often messy, cumbersome or just unpleasant. For example, the treatment of nasal congestion can be by means of a “rub” applied locally to the nose and/or chest areas. Alternatively, a liquid can be applied to a tissue or handkerchief for application to the nose or pillow so that the aroma can permeate the immediate vicinity of the person using the treatment. A further alternative is to use a porous block and a heat source located adjacent the block to drive off the vapour from the liquid as the block is heated by the heat source. The charging and cleaning of such devices can be very time-consuming and messy. Often, a “night light” or “tea light” type of candle Is used as the heat source. There are possible health and safety issues with the use of a naked flame in a child's room overnight. Even electric versions of this basic device have their disadvantages.
More recently, nasal strips, for application to the nose, or adhesive patches have been made available to deliver vapour to the immediate environment of the person using the treatment. The effectiveness of adhesive patches is, of course, dependent on the patch staying in place—adhesive patches tend to become detached—or being uncovered, e.g. if a child wearing a patch on its chest should sleep on its stomach, thereby negating the effect of the released vapour.
Travellers to foreign countries often take with them an insect repellent for use in the evenings and/or overnight. These can conveniently consist of a holder that plugs directly into a mains electricity socket. The holder has a plate heated by electricity. A tablet impregnated with insecticide and/or insect repellent is inserted into the holder so as to rest adjacent the heated plate. The heat activates the tablet and releases the insect repellent or insecticide. A similar kind of device to that just described can be used for aromatherapy or simply to provide a pleasant ambient scent to a room.
The nature of the vapour itself is not particularly relevant to the invention. What is more important is the manner in which the vapour can be released by thermal activation, especially in environments where naked flames or a convenient supply of electrical heating energy is simply not available.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
There is therefore a need for a heat activated, vapour-generating device that overcomes these difficulties.
The present Invention provides, in one aspect, a device for releasing a vapour, the device comprising a first sachet of a vapour releasing substance and a second sachet containing a substance adapted, when activated, to initiate an exothermic reaction, the heat from said reaction operative to release the vapour from the substance in the first sachet.
The device may further comprise a mitt, sleeve or pouch adapted to receive a first said sachet on top of a second said sachet.
The device may further comprise a packaging container adapted to be deployed so as to form a holder for the mitt, sleeve or pouch.
The first and second sachets may be joined together, and may be integrally formed so as to share a common vapour-impermeable wall, for example.
The first sachet preferably comprises an inner, tear-resistant sachet containing the exothermic material and an outer sachet containing said inner sachet, the outer sachet preventing air contacting the exothermic substance.
The exothermic reaction produced by the second sachet preferably reaches an average temperature of around 40-70° C. after about 1.5 to 2 hours. More preferably, the exothermic reaction reaches an average temperature of around 55° C. The exothermic reaction preferably lasts for around 6 to 8 hours.
The first sachet conveniently contains a plurality of beads or granules impregnated with the said vapour-releasing substance. For example, granules of vermiculite have been found to be effective. The beads or granules are preferably placed inside an inner tear-resistant sachet disposed within an outer sachet adapted to be opened for the Inner sachet to be retrieved.
Advantageously the container comprises a box having a first lid portion adapted to close the box and a second lid portion adapted to be folded over the top of the first lid portion in spaced relation so as to create a space adapted to receive the mitt, sleeve or pouch when the device is activated.
The vapour released by said releasing substance may comprise a decongestant, an insect repellent, an insecticide or an aromatherapy agent, for example a natural oil.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In a second aspect, the invention provides a kit of parts for releasing a vapour, the kit comprising a container, a first sachet containing a substance adapted to release a vapour when heated, a second sachet containing a substance adapted, when activated, to initiate an exothermic reaction, and a mitt, sleeve or pouch adapted to receive a said first sachet and a said second sachet.
The invention will now be described with reference to the drawings, In which:
FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a container deployed to permit release of a vapour from a sachet;
FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of a mitt, sleeve or pouch for use with the sachets, with or without the container shown in FIG. 1; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an integrally-formed heat-generating sachet and vapour release sachet according to another embodiment of the invention.
The device according to the invention consists of a heat generating sachet and a vapour release sachet. The heat generating sachet consists of an inner container in which the Ingredients for creating an exothermic reaction are disposed. The inner container is made of a tear-proof or tear-resistant material. The inner container and its contents are then disposed in an outer container. The outer container is preferably see-through, non-breathable material and is designed to prevent air coming into contact with the inner container until it is desired to deploy the device.
The ingredients for the heat-generating sachet are known per se and may be of the type used for hand, body and foot warmers. They are to be distinguished from sachets intended to be heated in a microwave oven and normally containing a gel. The present invention uses sachets that operate by creating an exothermic reaction within the sachet when the ingredients of the sachet come into contact with the air, hence the outer container.
The heat generating sachet is completely safe and does not get excessively hot in use. Typically, the sachet reaches an average temperature of around 40-70° C., preferably around 55° C., after about 1.5 hours use. The sachets will continue to generate heat for up to about 10-12 hours and possibly more In certain conditions.
The vapour-generating sachet similarly comprises a tear-resistant or tear-proof inner container in which the ingredients are disposed. Preferably, the vapour-producing substance is impregnated into a plurality of small beads or granules, for example granulated vermiculite. In this way, the concentration of active substance can be more easily controlled.
As previously mentioned, the active substance can be medicinal in nature, an insecticide or insect repellent, or can simply create a pleasant aroma, which may itself have a therapeutic effect as in the case of aromatherapy substances. In order to prevent premature vapour release and/or for safety reasons, the inner container with its beads or granules is preferably disposed in an outer container. This outer container is preferably see-through. It prevents vapour release until the inner container is removed for the vapour releasing substance to be heated by the heat-generating sachet.
Although the exact composition of the vapour generating substance is not crucial to the operation of the device according to the invention, as an example, a fragrance may be selected from one or more of eucalyptus, peppermint, menthol, lavender and rosewood. Other potential ingredients include methyl salicylate.
In use, a vapour release sachet is removed from its outer container. Similarly, a heat-generating sachet is removed from its outer container. The former is placed on top of the latter so that heat generated from within the heat-generating sachet permeates through the vapour release sachet on top.
For convenience, the device preferably includes in its packaging a sleeve, mitt or pouch of soft, permeable material, such as a fleece-like material. The two sachets disposed as above can then be placed inside. It may be desirable to shake the loaded mitt, pouch or sleeve gently from side to side to ensure even distribution of the respective substances. The device is ultra-safe to carry or place under a pillow, for example, although it is recognised that dispersion of the vapour will thereby be reduced and Is not recommended.
The loaded mitt, sleeve or pouch may be safely placed on any convenient surface but normal precautions should be taken to prevent marking of delicate surfaces.
Preferably, however, the packaging for the product constitutes a dispenser for the device. As shown in FIG. 1, the device is sold in a carton, generally indicated at 1. The carton consists of a box 2 with a lid 3 that would normally close the carton. However, the carton also contains an inner lid 4, normally folded within the box. When deployed, first the inner lid 4 is opened and the lid 3 closed over the open box, for example by tucking in an edge (not shown) at the back of the box. What was originally the inner lid 4 is then brought over the top of the lid 3 and a tab 5, shown dotted in FIG. 1, tucked into a slot (not visible in FIG. 1) along the top edge of the hinge line joining the lid 3 with the side of the box facing the front in FIG. 1.
The lid 4 has two or more, preferably three, walls so that when deployed as shown in FIG. 1, the lid 4 creates an arch over the lid 3 but leaves a space therebetween. The mitt, sleeve or pouch can then be placed on the lid 3, which thereby acts as a platform, but under cover of the lid 4.
The lid 4 may be provided with apertures, such as star shapes 6, or any other suitable shapes, to provide a device of pleasing appearance but also to allow vapour released from the vapour release sachet to disperse more easily.
A typical mitt or pouch is illustrated in FIG. 2. It consists of an envelope-type construction 7 with a closed end, an opening 8 and a closing flap 9. In use, the vapour-release sachet 10 and the heat-generating sachet 11 are removed from their wrapping and the heat-generating sachet is shaken to mix the contents. The vapour-release sachet 10 is placed on top of the heat-generating sachet 11 and both are then slid into the mitt 7. FIG. 2 illustrates the sachets partially inserted into the mitt. The mitt is then placed in the box as hereinbefore described, or placed on some other surface which is not adversely affected by heat.
An alternative construction dispenses with the flap 9. A yet further alternative dispenses with both the flap and the closed end and consists simply of an open-ended sleeve. The material of the mitt, sleeve or pouch is preferably soft, for example fleece-like, and is permeable to the vapour released by the sachet.
FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative form of the heat-generating and vapour-release sachets. The sachets are manufactured as an integral structure produced from three plastics webs 30, 31 and 32 welded together around the periphery thereof. The central web 30 is formed of an impermeable plastics material, while the uppermost web 31 and the lowermost web 32 are of a vapour-permeable material. A quantity of heat-generating material 33 (a material generating heat by an exothermic reaction in the presence of air) is sealed into a sachet formed between the lowermost web 32 and the central web 30, while a quantity of beads or granules 34 impregnated with the liquid which generates the vapour is sealed between the uppermost web 31 and the central web 30. The whole structure may then be vacuum-sealed into a tearable impermeable bag, such that tearing open the bag and removing the structure initiates the exothermic reaction to generate heat and at the same time allows the release of the vapour. In an alternative arrangement, the permeable layers are temporarily sealed by additional impermeable layers which can be peeled off to start the heat generation and to allow release of the vapour.
It can therefore be appreciated that the present invention provides an easy-to-use, self-contained device that needs no external energy source and which is capable of safely and conveniently providing several hours of vapour release for medicinal use, for comfort and/or for ambience and for many other uses, depending on the nature of the vapour release substance in the vapour release sachet. Moreover, so-called “travel” versions of the device may be made available by suitably re-sizing and packaging the contents of the device.