DIY Heating Pad with Rice

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DIY heating pad with rice
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I’ve mentioned in the past that we don’t use microwaves, but I do make one exception. We make homemade reusable DIY heating pads that are easily heated in the microwave. Most of my microwave concerns (mainly that they make food taste terrible) don’t matter for something we are not eating. So I don’t mind using one for a homemade heating pad.

DIY Heating Pads

Before I had kids, I used an electric heating blanket. Once I conceived my first child, I noticed the warning label cautioned against use while pregnant. There were also warnings of the potential for burns, electric shock, and fires. Electric heating pads carry many of the same warnings. 

I wanted to find a natural alternative. 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 of minutes in the microwave, and they stay warm for some much-needed heat therapy. 

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 back pain and excruciating positions needed to get her out safely was 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 the rice heating pad up each night and place them in our children’s beds under the sheets (but below their feet) to keep them warm while they fell asleep.
  • Cold and Flu: In the unfortunate event of a cold or flu, these are wonderful for keeping warm and easing sore 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. Weird but true. I found that it improved my sleep quality. A DIY rice pack can also double as an ice pack for better sleep. Now my husband and I regulate our body temp at night with the Chilipad. 
  • Reusable Hand Warmers: In the past, I’ve made little miniature heat pads with felt and fleece. These are great to use as hand warmers (if we ever get cold enough to need them this year!).
  • Sore Muscles: Heat helps increase blood flow to achy muscles for soothing relief after a long day. If you need to alternate cold and heat on a muscle injury, you can put one rice bag in the freezer and one in the microwave, rotating as needed. 
  • Pain relief: DIY heating pads are great for other types of pain relief. They can also help with migraines and menstrual cramps. Add a little lavender essential oil for some calming aromatherapy. 

How to Make a DIY Heating Pad With Rice

You’re going to need rice (of course), cotton fabric, and something to sew with. I use cheap white rice as a filler since we are not eating it. If you don’t have a sewing machine, these can be hand sewn, though it won’t be quite as quick. DIY projects like this also make great gifts for friends and family at Christmas. 

You can make your homemade rice heating pad any size or shape you want, but I make mine into a 12×6 inch rectangle. 

DIY heating pad with rice
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3.87 from 52 votes

DIY Heat Pad With Rice

These rice heat bags are an easy way to make a natural heating pad. Throw it in the freezer for an ice pack too!
Active Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Yield: 1 rice bag
Author: Katie Wells

Equipment

Materials

  • 12 inch square piece of cotton fabric or whatever shape/size you prefer
  • 5 pound bag white rice (might not all be used)

Instructions

  • Fold the material in half with right sides together. Start at one of the short sides and sew the long side and part of the opposite short side, leaving a gap of several inches on the last short side. This is where you're going to put the uncooked rice in.
  • Turn the fabric tube inside out so that the rough ends are hidden.
  • Fill the tube with rice until it is about 2/3 full. You can also add some lavender buds or a few drops of essential oils for a relaxing experience.
  • Fold the remaining side in so that the rough ends are hidden and sew closed.

Notes

To use: Heat on high in the microwave for 60 seconds or until the desired temperature is reached. The exact time will depend on your microwave. 

Simple DIY Rice Heating Pad Variations

There are some great tutorials online for making a really nice looking rice heat pack. This is one of my favorites. I make nicer ones like that for gifts, but for regular home use, these are easier:

  • Use an old tube sock – Fill the old sock with rice and sew or tie the end to make an easy rice sock. A cotton sock is the best option. 
  • Use an old pillowcase – Just cut the pillowcase 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? Leave us a comment and be sure to share this post with a friend!

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

135 responses to “DIY Heating Pad with Rice”

  1. jessica Avatar

    Will the rice cook when you heat it? I put mind in for a min. and it’s moist and smells odd, maybe like cooked rice?

    1. Dawen Avatar

      Did you use brown rice instead of white, maybe? I haven’t tried white rice, but mine also smells like cooking rice. As long as you don’t introduce water to it, it should be fine.

  2. Emma R. Avatar
    Emma R.

    Hi!
    I was having some really bad cramping + back pain and I found this recipe.
    I now have two toasty warm sock-packs full of uncooked rice- I just microwaved them for two minutes and they are amazing!
    10/10 would make again.
    Works really, really well.

  3. ilona Avatar

    have chook wheat lots so will be using —–that —-socks sound good also pillows . panels sound necessary so spread s the seed. herbs and oils essential also can use 2nd sock / pillow case so totally washable cover

  4. Miki Avatar

    I read this post and I think it is a great idea, my Aunt made one for my mom, but I am in college and I didn’t have one. I get awful period cramps. I intend to make an official one, but I needed a fast remedy and took an old sock filled it with rice and tied it tight with a hair tie, it’s not very pretty but does suffice!

  5. Polly Avatar

    If you have been using your Rice Bag on a regular basis and have not cleaned it this is what I suggest: I have used this method and has worked for me.

    Place your Rice Bag in a clean glass bowl or baking dish (at least 2″ deep. Bring enough water to a boil and carefully pour it over the Rice Bag. Use a 1/2 tsp of diluted dish detergent to the water and let it stand for 1 hour.

    Pour out the water and place your Rice Bag on a dish drying rack in your sink and rinse with cold water until no suds are present. Remove your Rice Bag and place on a clean unused bath towel. Towel will help wick away the moisture from the Rice Bag. To help with drying place on a mesh bag and continue to air dry. To help air dry the Rice Bag pick it up several times to shake and turn the bag so that it’s drying completely.

    After drying for 24 hours. Place it in dryer on High Heat for 10 mins. with a clean tennis shoe. The shoe manipulates the bag so it keeps it from just laying flat while the dryer is turning.
    Remove it from the dryer and you should be good to go.

    I suggest making a removable cover for your Rice Bag that way you can remove it and wash it as often as you like and no have to bother with the above. That’s what I did.

    Remember be patient it takes time to do it right!

  6. Teddi Avatar

    I believe I have read every comment but haven’t gotten a clear understanding of how to clean my rice bag. It’s fairly small which I use to cover my eyes. I have had it several years and we do not know how to clean it. We do not have a microwave but I will take the advice of the crock pot to warm it up but how about getting it clean ? I am afraid it is loaded with bacteria so can I put it in the freezer and would that help?

    1. Jo Avatar

      I would remove what ever filling you have in the bag then wash the bag and refill with new filling. As Polly mentions below, I would create a separate cover that can be removed for regular cleaning.

  7. Caroline Avatar

    So you have a microwave for this purpose only or do you use it for other things also?
    We don’t have a microwave and I just can’t justify getting one in my tiny kitchen just to heat heating pads! What else do you use your microwave for?

  8. Valerie Plett Avatar
    Valerie Plett

    I’m looking for a way to heat a flax bag in an oven to treat earaches. Any ideas??

  9. Graham Avatar

    This may be a dumb question but can I use brown rice? I have a bag of it that I’ll never use. Thanks!

    1. Julie Avatar

      My boyfriend is in agony with his back. All I had just now was a 1kg bag of brown rice which I’ve tipped in one of his old socks, tied a knot in the end,
      and microwaved for a minute and a half. So less than 5 mins after complaining he’s now using my ad hoc heat pack. So yes, brown rice is fine 🙂

  10. Kenett Avatar

    I have used dried peppermint and lavender for years in my rice bags. The scent usually last a long time, especially is you store them in a plastic bag between use.

    Also it depends on the size of your bag on how long to heat. You may just try a min. At a time. Usually the normal size which like a full length sock, takes 2 min. To heat.

    As whether bugs get into the rice… Not usually, I’ve had mine for too long… And no bugs. Heating would kill out any eggs if any.

    1. Melissa Avatar

      It would take a cockroach to survive a microwave!!
      Kidding aside, if your pack gets used regularly, bugs wouldn’t survive the heating nor the freezing, whichever way you use them. Additionally, most spices or essential oils you might add would repel bugs (so much so that I keep a bay leaf, or two, in every package or container of grain-based food I store; it prevents eggs from hatching. I’ve not found a single bug in anything since I started doing this years ago).

  11. Jenni Avatar

    Ive been making wheat bags for many years. Using wheat instead of rice.
    I make them long and sectioned. End up sewing the long side up last. Ive added cloves and dried lavender.
    I usually use a kilo per bag and heat in the microwave for two minutes. A 1/2 cup of water in with it will prevent drying out and or catching fire…
    I also use a long scarf, wrap the wheat bag long ways inside it and tie it on to treat back pain. The long shape also drapes around my neck nicely for aches or just to keep warm on a cold day.
    I will try the rice as an alternative….

  12. Sarah-Grace Avatar
    Sarah-Grace

    A lady at my church makes “comfort kernels” similar to this with dried feed corn and cloves. She sells them at craft shows and to neighbors. They are amazing and can be used hot or cold–they’ve gotten my family through many illnesses and injuries:)

  13. Inge Avatar

    Is there no danger of fire? With all heat pillows, like cherry pitt and flax seed it warns to make them wet before putting in the microwave and not heating them for longer than a certain amount of time, and wait again till room temperature. Which is why I don’t use them. Could someone advice me on this?
    Regards, Inge

  14. Lori Williamson Avatar
    Lori Williamson

    I’m looking for the ceramic beads or glass beads for filling my hot/ old packs & I’m not finding them yet. Do you have any idea where? I’m not sure how my grand daughters will do wih rice or seeds, etc. If they get wet at all, I’m worried about mold etc. ? Suggestions?

  15. Carole Avatar

    I make these in all sizes. Small ones in children flannel pattern for when they get a bump or bruise. These kept stored in the freezer. Grandchildren don’t cry they run for the freezer when they get hurt. One child uses the ice packs for migraine head aches.
    Also make them for heat, again in various flannel pattern or sport team pattern. I use inexpensive white rice. For larger bags I separate them in 3 sections so it wraps around the neck etc. Easy to sew a seam every 3rd of the area. For achy neck, then use with heat. Keep some for heat and some for cold.

  16. Katherine Avatar
    Katherine

    I love the idea of this and I’ve seen lots of different tutorials online. Unfortunately, we don’t have a microwave. I can’t figure out how to make one that’s oven safe. Any thoughts?

    1. Maria Avatar

      Someone said to put it in the oven in a covered pot, I would look into that! Others mentioned that crock pots and rice cookers work well too.

  17. Hannah Avatar

    Does anyone know if I can create the rice pack out of cotton material and heat them in a hot towel cabi, which usually maintains a constant temp of 160 degrees? Is there a limit to how long I can keep them in the cabi before they burn? Thanks!

3.87 from 52 votes (51 ratings without comment)

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