I’ve mentioned in the past that we don’t use microwaves, but I do make one exception.
We make homemade reusable rice heat packs are easily heated in the microwave. Most of my concerns about microwaves (especially that they make food taste terrible) don’t matter for something we aren’t eating, so I don’t mind using it for this purpose.
Natural Heating Pads
Before I had kids, I used an electric heating blanket. Once I conceived my first child, I noticed that the warning label cautioned against use while pregnant and also carried warnings of the potential for burns, electric shock and fires.
I wanted to find a natural alternative, and in college, I often used this hot/cold pack that could be heated in a microwave or put in the freezer.
That one finally bit the dust after college, but thankfully, my mom figured out a homemade version that we’ve been using ever since.
Her homemade rice heat pack is super-simple to make and works wonderfully. Just a couple minutes in the microwave and they stay warm for almost an hour.
How We Use These
I now have a couple of these and all of my children have one that they made with my mom. We use them all the time, but some of my favorite uses have been:
- In labor: I had terrible back labor with my last birth because she decided to arrive breech. The only thing that got me through the excruciating positions needed to get her out safely were these heat packs on my back. They were amazing.
- Cold nights: Once upon a time not that long ago, we lived in a poorly insulated apartment with three kids, including a preemie. It got really cold at night and no amount of running the heater (despite the $400 electric bills) got it warm in that apartment. We would heat these up each night and place them in our children’s beds under the sheets (but below their feet) to keep them warm while they were falling asleep.
- Cold and Flu: In the unfortunate event of a cold or flu, these are wonderful for keeping warm and easing the achy muscles. (These are the other things we do if illness strikes to speed recovery)
- Great sleep: Years ago, I started sleeping with an ice pack on my head. I found that it improved my sleep quality. These rice packs are great to put in the freezer and use for that to improve sleep.
- Reusable Hand Warmers: I’ll be posting a separate tutorial for these, but lately, I’ve made little miniature heat pads with felt and fleece to heat up and use as hand warmers (if we ever get cold enough to need them this year!)
Rice Pack Supplies
- One 5-pound bag of white rice (might not all be used)
- A 12-inch square piece of material. I’ve used cotton, old sheets or pillow cases, or flannel (see other variations below)
- A sewing machine or a needle
Rice Pack Instructions
- Fold the material in half with right sides together and sew two of the sides so that three sides are closed and one smaller end is left open. In other words, if it is folded, sew the bottom and the long side so that it becomes a tube that is roughly 12 inches by six inches with one six inch side open.
- Turn inside out so that the rough ends are hidden.
- Fill the tube with rice until it is about 2/3 full.
- Fold the remaining side in so that the rough ends are hidden and sew closed.
To use: Heat in the microwave on high for 60 seconds or until desired temperature.
There are some great tutorials online for making a really nice looking rice heat pack. This is one of my favorites. I make nicer looking ones like that for gifts, but for regular home use, these are easier:
- Use an old knee-high sock– just fill with rice and sew or tie the end.
- Use an old pillow case: Just cut in half. Use the side with the bottom seam and fill with a couple of cups of rice. Sew a line all the way across to create a sealed tube, then repeat with another couple of cups of rice. Repeat until the entire thing is full and seam the end to create a finished rice pack with several tubes full of rice.
- Create a simple sleeve with a piece of square material: Fold in half and sew up two of the sides, leaving a thinner end open. Fill with rice and sew the remaining side to seal.
Ever made your own heating pad before?