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1. A heat pack comprising:
- a flexible container;
- a supercoolable aqueous sodium acetate solution carried within said flexible container; and
- a flexible self contained activator strip disposed within said flexible container in intimate contact with said sodium acetate solution for initiating crystallization of said solution when supercooled, said activator strip having no dependency with said flexible container for said crystallization, said activator strip being formed from a ferrous material defining a thickness and a perimeter and including at least one fissure extending through said thickness and having a terminus inwardly of said perimeter.
2. The heat pack of claim 1 wherein said at least one fissure extends inwardly from the perimeter of said activator strip.
3. The heat pack of claim 1 wherein said self contained activator strip comprises a body portion and a tongue portion integrally attached at one end thereof to said body portion and depending therefrom intermediate the perimeter of said activator strip, confronting surfaces of said body and tongue portions defining therebetween said at least one fissure.
4. The heat pack of claim 3 wherein said body portion forms a continuous annular ring with said tongue portion depending from a discrete region along the interior surface of said ring.
5. The heat pack of claim 1 wherein said heat pack further comprises:
- a flexible protective bag disposed within said sodium acetate solution and defining at least one aperture extending therethrough for providing fluid communication between the interior of said protective bag and the interior of said flexible container exterior to said self contained protective bag, said activator strip being disposed within said flexible bag whereby flexing of said activator strip initiates crystal formation within said protective bag with said crystals growing therefrom into said flexible container external to said protective bag.
6. The heat pack of claim 5 wherein said protective bag is fixedly attached to said flexible container.
7. The heat pack of claim 1 wherein said activator strip is formed from steel.
8. A method of initiating crystallization of a supercoolable aqueous sodium acetate solution carried within a flexible container, said method comprising the steps of
- introducing a flexible activator strip into said supercoolable solution, said activator strip being formed from a ferrous material defining a thickness and a perimeter and including at least one fissure extending through said thickness and having a terminus inwardly of said perimeter; and
- flexing said activator strip through said flexible container to initiate crystallization of said supercoolable solution wherein said strip has no dependency with said container for crystallization.
9. The method of claim 8 including the additional step of:
- sealing said flexible container after introduction of said activator strip into said flexible container and before said flexing of said activator strip.
10. The method of claim 9 including the further sequential steps of:
- heating said supercoolable solution to a temperature sufficient to completely melt said supercoolable solution after said sealing of said flexible container; and
- said supercoolable solution to a temperature at which said supercoolable solution is supercooled before flexing said activator strip.
11. The method of claim 10 wherein said steps are sequentially repeated to alternately initiate crystallization of, and supercool, said supercoolable solution.
12. A heat pack as defined in claim 1 wherein the flexible container is formed from pliable polymer compatible with said soduim acetate solution and said solution and flexible self contained activator strip are sealed therein.