Roberta Varney's Cool Threads Shop
COOLING TIES FAQs
For best results of your cooler, please read through these comments as well as the Care & Misc. Tips.
HOW DOES IT WORK: In a word, evaporation. The inbedded crystals absorb water which creates a gel. When the water from the gel evaporates, it causes a cool feeling. (PLEASE NOTE: Some pet products do not include the crystals.)
HOW LONG WILL THE PRODUCT LAST: The crystals will last for hundreds of uses giving you plenty of "bang for your buck." The fabric's life will depend on the care given as well as the fabric weight. just like a shirt or dress, if it is cleaned and dried between uses, it should hold up for several years. If a product is used daily, it will not last as long as one used once a year for vacation. Standard wear and tear will occur. Just like clothes, the fabric can mildew; so be sure to clean and dry thoroughly before storing. (Refer to Care and Misc. Tips Page)
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE:
DRY: When you first receive your cooler(s), don't be alarmed. It will feel like there is next to nothing inside the fabric. But if you feel the compartments carefully, you will realize there are tiny crystals that feel like tiny, hard pieces of rice or rock salt. They are very small, and it doesn't take many crystals to do the job.
WET: Once the cooler has been hydrated, it will feel like a cool, damp washcloth. The gel is slightly moist to the touch-similar to finger Jello, and the cotton fabric will be moist to the touch, but not dripping wet (except immediately after being soaked).
If there is a slippery feel to the fabric, it may have been overhydrated and some of the gel weeped, or oozed, out of the fabric. Another possibility is that with a brand new product, sometimes the crystals have a fine powder-similar to the powder you see at the bottom of a sugar bowl. The fine powder can work its way out of the fabric, and when wet it will be slippery. Either way, it will not affect the use of the remaining gel. Simply rinse off and use.
HOW DO I HYDRATE IT: Place the area with crystals into a bowl of water. If the entire neck cooler is submerged, that's okay too. It doesn't take much water; a regular cereal bowl works fine (I use a Corelle cereal bowl-it's just the right size). Ties normally take 20-30 minutes for the gel to expand. You will quickly learn the feel. When wet, you should feel the crystal area. It usually just looks wet and it is easy to overlook the crystals absorbing the water. Don't hesitate to get 'hands on'...feel it while it is transforming into the gel. Keep checking it to avoid oversoaking-you don't want a "puffy, stuffed sausage" appearance. The gel will continue to absorb and expand while in water, and this will stress the fabric if overhydrated. If you should overhydrate, the product can still be used.
WHAT SHOULD A PROPERLY SOAKED TIE LOOK LIKE: The cool tie should be fairly flat and about 1/2" thick when soaked. The fabric should not be tight to the touch. Also, the fabric should be flexible enough to wrap around your finger. Over-hydrated coolers lose their effectiveness (less skin contact), and put stress on the fabric. Think of your car's tires...an over-inflated tire will be less effective due to less tread contact with the road. Same with a neck cooler...Still works, but one that is over-hydrated will have less 'tread' (or skin-to-cooler) contact, making it less effective. Plus, it will feel extra bulky to wear.
CAN I REFRESH THE COOLER WHILE WEARING IT: Yes, as long as the gel does not get over-hydrated. You do not want the compartments to look "puffy" like a bed pillow. Just remove the cooler, briefly soak in water, and put back on. This will not take very long; be sure to check on it while it is soaking to avoid over-hydrating. Once fully hydrated, the ties will provide hours of use, so normally, in the course of a day, you will not have to rehydrate it while wearing.
Another option is to buy several. Wear one and keep a spare in the fridge or ice chest/cooler. Trade them off periodically for a really cold, refreshing treat! It is like holding a slushie to your neck....quickly inhale....it is that cold!! This is also a great idea if the weather is humid; the ties are less effective in humid weather as there is less evaporation. TIP: Keep hydrated ties in an open baggy; this will prevent them from possibly soaking up more water. However, do not store wet, hydrated ties in a baggy beyond a few hours; allow them to dry out periodically.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE FOUR COMPARTMENTS: On the Premium coolers and Shorty coolers, I have stitched the four compartments to keep the crystals evenly distributed inside the fabric. This assures that when you hydrate the product, the crystals aren't all in one end of the cooler. You might have to lightly distribute the gel (within the compartments) once it is hydrated; but for the most part the compartments keep the crystals in place at all times. NOTE: Not all styles have the 4 stitched compartments. If an item is too small or if the appearance is drastically affected, I did not create the compartments.
DOES HUMIDITY AFFECT THE COOLER: Yes. Since the coolers work through evaporation, the coolers will be less effective on humid days. Still, a great way for you to keep cooler on a humid day is to store a hydrated neck cooler in your refrigerator or portable cooler before using. Buy two or three so you can 'swap them out.'
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LIGHTWEIGHT FABRIC AND A MEDIUM WEIGHT FABRIC: The cotton fabric I use in my neck coolers/bandanas come in two weights. Both are quality fabric and will do the job.
The light weight fabric is similar to fabric used for lightweight, inexpensive sheets-a thinner, lighter fabric. The medium weight is woven a little tighter (more threads per square inch) and is more like a dress shirt weight. I sell both weights because of the fabric designs; both weights will work.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SHORTY COOLER (Avail. on request) AND A PREMIUM COOLER: Besides the price difference, a Shorty Cooler is shorter in length (hence, the name) and not quite as wide (about 1 1/2") compared to a Premium Cooler. This difference allows me to cut more ties out of the same yardage of fabric, so I pass the savings on to you. Mostly, Shorty Coolers are solid colors, or prints I selected with youth in mind, although anyone can wear the shorty coolers. They are perfect to wear under a work shirt or a polo shirt, since they are less bulky and less noticable!
CAN I, AS A CUSTOMER, SHORTEN THE COOLER...THE ENDS ARE TOO LONG: Yes. I create the coolers at a maximum length. I realize that everyone has their own preference for length, but it just isn't practical for me to produce 10 different lengths with all the fabric choices I offer. You can cut the tie to any length you desire. If you do, I would recommend stitching the cut ends, either by hand or machine. This will prevent any fraying that might shorten the life of your cooler. Also, if you shorten the ties, it is very important that you cut equal lengths off both ends of the cooler. This will assure the compartments with the crystals will remain evenly distributed in the middle of the cooler.
CAN I GET FABRIC SAMPLES: Yes. Use the CONTACT US tab and leave me a message. Indicate which fabrics you are interested in and we will go from there. Mostly, I will ask for an SASE for mailing the free samples to you.
CAN I FREEZE IT: No. Freezing will break down the gel and make it less effective. For a "colder cool", you can place the product in the refrigerator once it has been hydrated. On the go? Soak in a cup of ice water. Outside often? Buy two or more-one to wear and and a spare. Keep the (hydrated) spare in the refrigerator or cooler in an open zip baggie and swap out-cool AND extra refreshing!
CAN I MICROWAVE IT: Yes. WHY: If you need a small heating pad, this is a great idea! After hydrating the product, microwave it on low power. Microwaves vary, so use judgement-perhaps 20 seconds at a time. Feel the gel area with caution and reheat until desired temperature is reached. Be sure to place the tie in a "donut" shape to evenly spread out the area to be heated.
ARE THE CRYSTALS/GEL SAFE: The crystals and gel are non-toxic when used as the product is intended. However, the product does expand; therefore, it is not designed to be eaten or ingested by anyone, including pets. Also, please supervise children that use this product, and store in a safe place. Check the Safety/MSDS tab for more details.