Kill It With Fire

Lessons on a summer with a smartphone-enabled itch-killing device. Yes—it works, even if a smartphone is a weird vessel for the Heat-It.

By Ernie Smith

Recently, my wife and I went camping in a national park, which is something that we apparently now do. Our thought process was essentially that, to avoid a recent tropical storm, we’d head to the western part of the state where it will presumably be less rainy.

One problem: the storm also went further west than had been reported, so it rained basically the entire time. You have not lived until you’ve slept in a tent when a quarter inch of rain is falling around you every hour or so. I’m still trying to get the raindrops out of my ears.

But while I am and will remain an indoor cat, I did get the opportunity earlier this summer to test a device called Heat-It, a device for iOS and Android basically is designed to make it easier to manage all the bug bites that come about from being outdoors all the time. This was sent along a month or two ago, and it has been a bit of a constant beach-and-hiking companion.

Essentially what the device does is it takes a little bit of power from your phone, then turns that power into heat that can be used on those annoying mosquito and fly bites that tempt you to scratch them.

If you’ve ever heard of the home remedy of putting a hot spoon on a bug bite, the approach is basically the same, except it’s much more customizable and can be controlled, and can be accessed on demand. If you’re on a trail, you likely will not have access to a hot stove from which you can heat a spoon, so hence why this is a useful thing to have.

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I will tell you right now that lightly burning your skin to quell a bug bite is not as bad as it sounds, and if you’re not a fan of putting chemicals on your skin, it can be quite a useful tool. What it will not do is heal the bug bite on its own. It is essentially a way to distract the itch just enough so that you don’t go nuts.

Heat It

The Heat-It device came in handy at the beach, where flies are plentiful.

There are some limitations to this setup at this time, alas. I was given the Android version to test, which definitely works, but not with iOS. The Android experience was relatively painless. You plug it in, and it sends you directly to the Play Store to download the app. I tested it on a 2018 iPad Pro, and found it didn’t do anything, unfortunately. (Given the recent transition of iOS to USB-C, the company says they’re working on this, however. The Android device is reportedly not compatible with the just-released iPhone 15.)

And there are some non-computerized limitations to a tool like this. It’s work keeping in mind that you may have different sensitivities dealing with something like this. Different parts of your skin are quite sensitive—you might feel this thing more if you put it on your neck or the palm of your hand, for example. I would not put this on an open cut, either.

My wife, a hiking enthusiast who tends to go out on adventures nearly every weekend, was admittedly very skeptical of this thing at first, but even she was won over. As we live in a mixed household where she’s on iOS and I’m on Android, it led to a fun situation where she would frequently ask me for my phone just to ease the bug bites. Because she goes on so many hikes, she had a lot of bug bites over the summer. The fact that it won her over, despite being a bit of a technoskeptic, I think speaks to the fact that yes, this is a useful tool.

That said, I do think the format of this thing leaves something to be desired. A phone these days is quite large—it’s is kind of an awkward weapon to directly put on your skin, and obviously that’s not helpful if the part that’s itching is on your back. I would almost suggest using an extension cable, a dock, or a dongle to offer a little more flexibility. The idea of using a USB-C dock to rid yourself of the itch of bug bites is objectively hilarious, but with this thing, it’s more than possible.

It would be helpful if the company sold a Bluetooth version of this with a small battery of its own so you weren’t tethered to a giant phone just to use this thing. It would also solve the port compatibility issue. Overall, the idea is convenient, but the vessel is a bit odd.

All that said, having dealt with more than my fair share of bug bites over the summer, Heat-It was an excellent tool for managing all that. If you’re a tech nerd who likes to go outside sometimes, this is just the tool you need to prevent bug bites from driving you crazy.

If this is at all appealing, you can check it out here. And in case you want to learn more about itching things, we have a whole post about that.

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Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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