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Behind the Chill: How Cooling Gel Patches Work

Author: Kongdy Patch

Date: 03 05,2024

For fast-acting relief from soaring temperatures or heat exhaustion, cooling gel patches have become a popular solution. But what is the science behind how these innovative patches achieve their refreshing effects?

The technology actually relies on principles of evaporative cooling, the same process that makes sweat so effective at lowering the body's temperature. Here's a breakdown of how it works:

At their core, most cooling gel patches contain a polymer-based gel formula blended with a propylene glycol solution and sodium polyacrylate. When the patch is activated by removing an adhesive strip, these gel components are exposed to airflow.

Propylene glycol is a humectant that absorbs moisture to create a reservoir within the gel patch. Sodium polyacrylate enhances this effect by rapidly absorbing water molecules from both the gel and surrounding air.


With this moisture absorption, the polymers lower the vapor pressure of the trapped liquid. This increased concentration of dissolved particles allows the solution to evaporate at a significantly faster rate than regular water.

As the liquid evaporates, it extracts thermal energy in the form of heat from the gel patch and any surface in direct contact. This continual cyclic evaporation creates the skin-cooling effects we feel.

The cooling gel patches get their longevity by encasing the gel formula in a specialized membrane material. Small holes allow moisture in while limiting gel dehydration. This permits extended periods of steady evaporative cooling lasting hours.

Some products may also use ingredients like vegetable-derived glycerin or menthol to enhance coolness through stimulation of thermoreceptors in the skin.

So while seemingly simple, cooling gel patches utilize some advanced chemistry and material design. The end result delivers a compact, mess-free way to find rapid relief when temperatures rise.