Three insulators that keep things hot or cold

Written by mark orwell
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Three insulators that keep things hot or cold
A Thermos is an insulator designed to keep things hot or cold. (Thermos image by Vladislav Gajic from

Often, during the day, you need insulation to keep some object or substance cool or hot. Drinks, ice and lunches are some examples. Devices that operate on basic scientific principles can be easily found to regulate the temperatures of such substances.

Beer Cozies

Beer cosies are insulators designed to hug a can or bottle of beer and keep it cold, even in hot outdoor situations such as barbecues or picnics. They can also be used on sodas and other canned or bottled beverages. Cosies employ a number of insulating materials, including neoprene and plastic. The best, though, are those that include a layer of foam, which is an excellent insulating material. These cosies provide a tight, air-constricted seal around the can or bottle that protects against heat conduction or convection. Foam as an insulator is seen not only in beer cosies but also is used as home insulation and in other products.

Travel Mugs

Travel mugs are used to keep liquids either cold or hot. Coffee stays warm; ice water stays cold. Some mugs can even be used to tote around soup or hot food. While the technology differs among different brands, all travel mugs operate on the same principle. The idea is to create an airtight seal around the contents of the mug, protecting it from temperature variations in the outside environment. Thermos is one of the major manufacturers of travel mugs. The mugs house liquids in a stainless steel enclosure and use a vacuum seal technology that prevents outside air from affecting the temperature of the contents.

Hay Boxes

The next insulator isn't very common these days, but it's an interesting, simple device that can be made at home. Called a hay box, it's used in a process called hay box cooking, which is a low-energy cooking method. It can be used when camping, or it could be a fun project for kids, since the assembly of the hay box is simple. It is basically a cardboard box with a lid. Line all its sides and the lid with insulation material, such as cotton, foam, wool, hay, dense wads of newspaper or a mixture of it all. Bring some water to boil in a pan, and add some potatoes or vegetables. Take it off the fire, and set it in the box. This will keep the pan warm and slowly cook whatever is inside.

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