Wipe Heating System
The present invention is a pre-moistened wipe heating system capable of heating a number of pre-moistened wipes to a desired temperature. The system includes a package formed of a suitable moisture-impervious material within which a number of pre-moistened wipes are positioned. The system also includes a heating mechanism disposed in the package in contact with the wipes that has a chemical heating element, and an activation device selectively engagable with the heating element. The activation device is actuated to activate the heating element, which initiates an exothermic reaction. The heat from the reaction is transmitted from the element to and through the wipes as a result of the moisture held within the wipes and within the package in order to heat the wipes to a desired temperature while also allowing the package to be handled by an individual as the wipes are heated.
This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/810,217 filed Jun. 1, 2006, the entirety of which is expressly incorporated by reference herein.FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to wipes, or moist towelettes and, more specifically, to a container used to store and heat the wipes prior to use.BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Wipes or towelettes have long been utilized to clean a variety of items, such as tables, countertops and people, among others. A large number of the wipes of this type are pre-moistened in order to enable the wipes to more effectively clean the surface on which the wipes are utilized. To enable the wipes to retain this moisture until the wipes are used, it is necessary to enclose or package the wipes in a moisture-impervious manner that prevents the moisture from easily evaporating off of the wipes. Such packaging can include various containers or packages formed of rigid or flexible materials, such as plastic materials, with or without removable lids or reclosable seals.
However, one significant shortcoming with these pre-moistened wipes is that, due to the moisture present in the wipes, often the wipes are cold or cool to the touch when used. While this is not an overly significant issue when the wipes are used on inanimate surfaces, when the wipes are utilized to clean a person, such as an infant or child, the cool feel of the wipes is undesirable.
To overcome this problem, a number of devices have been developed that allow pre-moistened wipes to be positioned within the device and heated to a desired temperature prior to use. However, many of these devices require that the wipes be removed from their original packaging and replaced in the separate device in order to be heated. Also, these devices require electric power in order to operate the heating element disposed within the device, such that the devices can only be used when a power source, such as a conventional outlet, is available.
Therefore, it is desirable to develop a system and package for pre-moistened wipes that includes a heating element located directly within the package that is capable of quickly and easily heating the wipes to a desired temperature, without having to utilize any separate device to supply the heat to the wipes that is outside of the original packaging for the pre-moistened wipes.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to a first aspect of the present invention, a heating system for pre-moistened wipes is provided that includes a package formed of a moisture-impervious material within which the wipes can be placed. The package also includes a heating element disposed in contact with the wipes located in the package that, when activated, such as by pressing directly on the heating element or by using an activation device, can supply the necessary heat to the wipes to raise the wipes to a desired temperature. The heating element is a chemical heating device including separate compartments filled with reagents that, when mixed, initiate an exothermic reaction. The heat generated by this reaction is directed outwardly from the heating element and into the wipes that are positioned around the device to heat the wipes in a quick and easy manner.
Numerous other aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention will be made apparent from the following detailed description taken together with the drawing figures.
The drawings illustrate the best mode currently contemplated as practicing the present invention.
In the drawings:
With reference now to the drawing figures in which like reference numerals designate like parts throughout the disclosure, a package or pouch utilized to hold a number of pre-moistened wipes 12 therein and used in the wipe heating system 11 of the present invention is illustrated generally at 10 in
While the heating system 11 of the present invention is contemplated as including wipe containers of that type, in a preferred embodiment illustrated in
To enable the package 10 to be opened to gain access to the wipes 12 held within the package 10, in a particularly preferred embodiment a closure 18, formed as a tear-away strip 20, can be disposed in one of the sheets 14 at any point between the sealed ends 12. The strip 20 is defined between a pair of aligned, parallel lines of perforation 22 that enable the strip 20 to be grasped at a tab 24 and removed from the package 10 between the perforation lines 22. However, the closure 18 can also be reclosable, such that the package 10 can be resealed after removing one or more wipes 12 from within the package 10.
Within the package 10, the wipes 12 are preferably separated into two stacks 26 by a heating mechanism 28, though other arrangements of the wipes 12 and heating mechanism 28 within the package 10 can also be utilized. The mechanism 28 includes a heating element 30 and an optional activation device 32 operably connected or disposed adjacent to the element 30. The heating element 30, can be a heating element such as those disclosed in co-pending and co-owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/195,118, incorporated by reference herein, and includes a pair of interior compartments 34 and 36 in which are disposed reagents (not shown) capable of initiating a highly exothermic reaction when intermixed with one another. While any suitable reagents can be utilized that produce a suitably exothermic reaction, preferably one of the reagents is a liquid, such as water, while the other reagent is a solid, such as calcium oxide, or a mixture of calcium oxide and sulfamic acid, together with glass beads (not shown) to separate the solid reagent to enable the liquid reagent to more easily and quickly react with the solid reagent. The compartments 34 and 36 are separated by a frangible seal 38 that can be broken by the application of sufficient force to one of the compartments 34 or 36 to urge the reactant contained therein against the seal 38, thereby rupturing the seal 38.
In the embodiment of
Once the reaction is initiated, the heat generated by the reaction radiates out of the heating element 30 and into the wipes 12 positioned on opposite sides of the element 30. The moisture in the wipes 12, as well as any residual or condensed moisture within the package 10 separate from the wipes 12, enables the heat to efficiently and generally evenly flow through the entire wipe 12, and also through adjacent wipes 12 in each stack 26 that are spaced from the element 30. The total amount of heat generated by the element 30 is sufficient to heat all of the wipes 12 in the package 10 approximately to the desired temperature, e.g., between about 104° F. and about 107° F. Furthermore, the heat generated by the element 30 is not transmitted in any significant amount outside of the package 10, such that the package 10 can be easily handled by an individual, even when the wipes 12 are actively being heated by the element 30.
The reason for this is that the moisture in the wipe or wipes 12 immediately adjacent the element 30 effectively draws in the heat generated from the reaction occurring in the element 30 and transmits it throughout the wipe 12, as well as into adjacent wipes 12 positioned on opposite sides of the element 30. The volume of the wipes 12 and the moisture contained in each wipe 12 allows for the entire amount of the heat generated by the element 30 to be distributed relatively evenly through each of the wipes 12 contained in the package 10.
Also, to assist in adequately and evenly heating the wipes 12, the amount of the reagents contained in the compartments 34 and 36 of the element 30 can be selected to provide the exothermic reaction generated by the reagents with enough capacity to heat the volume of the wipes 12 contained within the package 10. This also effectively prevents the reagents from initiating a reaction that could potentially supply enough heat energy to damage the wipes 12 and/or package 10.
The plate 40 can also be dimensioned such that the wipes 12 extend past the periphery of the plate 40, allowing the wipes 12 in the stack 26 contacting the element 30 to transmit the heat from the element 30 through those wipes 12 around the plate 40 and into the wipes 12 in the opposite stack 26. Alternatively or in addition to the size of the plate 40, the plate 40 can be formed with a number of apertures (not shown) therein that enable the heat generated from the element 30 to be transmitted directly through the plate 40 to the wipes 12 located against the plate opposite the element 30.
In the embodiment of the package 10 shown in
In a second embodiment of the present invention shown in
Other variations to the structure and form of the system are also contemplated by the present invention. For example, the element 30 and/or the plate 40 or folding member 46 can each be designed to be replaceable within the package 10, especially for those packages 10 that are formed from more rigid materials. In addition, other features can be added to the package 10 such as a temperature indicator to illustrate when the wipes 12 within the package 10 have reached the desired temperature for use.
In addition, other variations on the form and orientation of the wipes 12 can be used with the heating element 30, such as folding a pair of wipes 12 over each side of the heating element 30, as shown in
Various alternatives are contemplated as being within the scope of the following claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as the invention.
1. A wipe heating system comprising:
- a) a moisture-impervious package adapted to hold a number or pre-moistened wipes therein; and
- b) a heating mechanism disposed within the package, the heating mechanism including a chemical heating element and an activation device disposed adjacent the heating element and engageable with the heating element to initiate an exothermic reaction within the heating element.
2. The system of claim 1 wherein the activation device includes at least one activation member.
3. The system of claim 2 wherein the at least one activation member includes a pair of panels movably connected to one another.
4. The system of claim 3 further comprising a hinge interconnecting the pair of panels.
5. The system of claim 4 wherein the hinge is integrally formed with each of the pair of panels.
6. The system of claim 3 wherein the activation device is formed of a generally rigid material.
7. The system of claim 1 further comprising a pair of stacks of pre-moistened wipes disposed within the package on opposite sides of the heating mechanism.
8. The system of claim 7 wherein the wipes in each stack located closest to the heating mechanism are in thermal contact with the heating element.
9. The system of claim 8 wherein each of the wipes in the pair of stacks is positioned in thermal contact with the immediately adjacent wipes.
10. The system of claim 9 comprising multiple chemical heating elements in the heating mechanism.
11. The system of claim 7 wherein the number of wipes in each stack is selected to enable the pair of stacks of wipes to effectively dissipate the heat generated by the heating element throughout the pair of stacks.
12. A wipe heating system comprising:
- a) a moisture-impervious package formed of a pair of thermoplastic sheets secured to one another to define an interior adapted to hold a number or pre-moistened wipes therein; and
- b) a heating mechanism disposed within the interior of the package, the heating mechanism including a chemical heating element capable of initiating an exothermic reaction within the package.
13. The system of claim 12 comprising multiple chemical heating elements in the heating mechanism.
14. The system of claim 12 further comprising at least one wipe positioned on opposite sides of the heating element.
15. The system of claim 14 further comprising a pair of stacks of pre-moistened wipes disposed within the package on opposite sides of the heating mechanism, wherein the number of wipes in each stack is selected to enable the pair of stacks of wipes to effectively dissipate the heat generated by the heating element throughout the pair of stacks.
16. The system of claim 15 wherein the number of wipes in each stack is selected to enable the pair of stacks of wipes to be generally evenly heated to a desired temperature.
17. The system of claim 16 wherein the desired temperature is between about 104° F. and about 107° F.
18. A method for heating a number of pre-moistened wipes to a desired temperature, the method comprising the steps of:
- a) providing a wipe heating system comprising a moisture-impervious package adapted to hold a number or pre-moistened wipes therein, a heating mechanism disposed within the package, the heating mechanism including a chemical heating element capable of initiating an exothermic reaction within the packaging, and a number of pre-moistened wipes disposed within the package on opposite sides of the heating mechanism; and
- b) activating the heating element.
19. The method of claim 18 wherein the step of activating the heating element comprises engaging an activation device disposed within the package adjacent the heating element with the heating element to initiate an exothermic reaction within the heating element.
20. The method of claim 18 further comprising the step of dispensing the wipes from the package after activating the heating element.
Filed: Mar 8, 2007
Publication Date: Dec 6, 2007
Inventor: Charles P. Hickey (Cheyenne, WY)
Application Number: 11/683,679
International Classification: B65D 67/00 (20060101);