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. Susan Kristie Avatar
    Susan Kristie

    5 stars
    I have been making “rice bags” for family and friends for about 25 years now. I use a terry cloth hand towel, folded in half length-wise. I sew up the short ends, then divide it into 4 sections and sew 3 seams, leaving you with a fold on one side and the other side has an opening for all 4 sections to fill with rice. I add one cup of rice to each section, pin the sections closed and add one more seam to sew all four sections closed.

    Depending on the microwave and who I am heating the rice bag for, I heat the rice bag for 2-3 minutes. I sew 2 terry cloth wash cloths together with seams diagonally, from corner-to-corner, filling each triangular section with about 1/2 cup of rice, to use for newborns, premies, young children. I start by heating those for 1 minute.

    I have 3 grandchildren who all play sports, so I make rice bags for them as well as your Natural Muscle Pain Relief Lotion Bars and they love it! My oldest grandson, 11 years old, asked if I would please make him some more of the bars as he uses them after pitching or playing soccer!

    If I get up from the couch, leaving a rice bag there, my 15-1/2 year old dog will immediately move over to lie down on it, soothing her old body during the cool winter months! Thank you for all of your DYI recipes, articles and podcasts!!

  2. Juju Avatar

    My supplies are limited due to this virus, however I really want to figure out how I can substitute rice/oatmeal, corn feed etc. I have Mini Wheats & Ruce Crispys cereals; wheat and white bread; uncooked spaghetti noodles; a few tea bags; soft flour tortillas; hot chocolate mix; and a few packs of coffee. What can i substitute rice with?? Also, could there be a alternative that isn’t editable?

  3. Divina Avatar

    Hi! Can the knee sock be made of some synthetic material? Will this burn or is it okay to use?

    1. Ophelia Avatar
      Ophelia

      All socks have some plastic in them, even pure wools ones, to add stretch.
      I was also unsure about this suggestion, even the smell of melting plastic makes me cringe.

  4. Lauren Pilger Avatar
    Lauren Pilger

    Question- do you think it would be ok to use conventional rice vs organic? I am concerned about pesticides on the rice, and using it close to the skin.

  5. Melanie Avatar
    Melanie

    I love the idea of making and using heat packs in the winter time and not an electric heating pad (I usually use mine to warm up the bed, then shut it off), but we don’t have a microwave. Any idea if how these could be warmed otherwise? Of course, it’s almost summer, but the way the temps have been here in Iowa I may still need them – and I’m thinking of making some with the enormous pile of scrap fabric I inherited when I bought my grandmother’s house.

    Thanks!

  6. Gail Avatar

    Does the rice ever get infested with weevils or other bugs? Or does it not matter since the freezing or microwaving would kill any?

  7. Denise Avatar

    Curious how long rice packs stay heated? I have feral cats and heard about making these to keep food from freezing, and extras to put in their bedding. Thank you in advance

  8. lisa Avatar

    If you substitute walnut shells (which can be found at pet stores in the lizard section), for rice–your pack can also be machine washable.

  9. Rachael Avatar

    I don’t have a sewing machine, is there a no sew version? A tape or Velcro?

    1. lisa Avatar

      You could use a sock and tie the end. Or you could hand sew it. Would not recommend tape or velcro because it may open and get rice everywhere.

  10. Cynthia Zielinski Avatar
    Cynthia Zielinski

    Hi, I only have brown rice. After hearing it for 1 minute two days in a row my rice got burnt. Are these not reusable? Thank you.

  11. Lindsay Avatar

    So I have used these before and love them, but since moving to our new house we ditched the microwave completely. We have a toaster oven instead. Any thoughts on alternatives for a heating pack if you don’t have a microwave??

    1. Gerald Avatar

      You can actually use the oven to heat the rice pack but you have to be careful that it doesn’t touch the heating element
      You will have to set your oven on the lowest temperature for about 10 minutes.
      My oven has a keep warm setting and I toss mine in the oven on that setting

  12. Vivian Avatar

    How long do these heat packs last? Should the rice be replaced, and how often if yes?

  13. Anne Avatar

    Do you ever include dried lavender lot essential oils in these? Do you think it’d be a good idea to do so or not so much? Thanks for your help!

  14. Courtney Avatar
    Courtney

    So my daughter has had endometriosis since she was 13 with her 1st surgery and now she is 15. She see about 4 teams of doctors because hers is stage 4 and they can’t seem to see why it is growing so fast. She lived on the heating pad and when I say lives I mean lives. She had one up front and one in her back and they all keep burning up. We just goylt back from Settle and medicine and trips are far from cheap from a working mom . I hate seeing my baby hurt she went from a size 123 to 205lb and it’s awful now she suffers depression and don’t wanna go to school because she gets bullied and it breaks my heart. I think most days we sit and cry and say God has a plan for us and she gets so mad and she said he must hate me mom I can’t take this. What do you do you no. The best medicine is hw r heating pad and I have hears good things about your guys site. When I get some extra money I would like to order a couple. What you guys are doing is amazing.. Thank you

  15. Courtney Avatar
    Courtney

    My daughter is 15 and was diagnosed with endometriosis at 13 shes had 5 surgerys and now they want her to have a hysterectomy and it scares me so bad. My poor girl lives on the heating bad on her back and her pelvic area. She hurts all the timw. We have went through heating bad after heating bad. I mean she lives on it. She’s on a waiting list to get a pain pump. It breaks my heart seeing her hurt but with all the medical bills and we just got back from Settle we just don’t have the money. These look amazing they do and I hope to save up to get her one one day.

  16. Thomas King Avatar
    Thomas King

    But didn’t you say, “I wanted to find a natural alternative”? And your anti-microwave article says you don’t have a microwave. So after bad-mouthing microwave ovens, you bought one and use up that counter space for heating rice? Not plausible.

  17. Yuyin Avatar

    How long can this homemade heating pad be used? I mean, how often do you have to discard the content and use new rice?

  18. Jayne Avatar

    I am curious. Is this not heavy? You mention to purchase a 5 lb bag of rice but in the instructions you are only creating one hot/cold pack. One = 5lbs? That seems kind of weighty if something it’s on is aching….

      1. Nickie Avatar
        Nickie

        Katia – It could be a host of different issues, hormonal, circulatory, nerve problems, even auto-immune. I would have it checked out. I get something called Raynaud’s Syndrome, and it’s freaky especially in winter to see my feet look like they are on a dead person, all white or blue/purple. If it is nerve problems, be careful using hot packs that you don’t burn yourself. I have done it a few times on my own….

        Also Wellness Mama – How long do these packs last (repeat use wise) and also can you only make ones for hot and ones for cold? Because doesn’t the rice get wet inside the pack? I love this idea and want to make them but have ideas for different details and wonder how they work.

  19. Dawen Avatar

    Honestly, you don’t even need a kneehigh sock for a rice sock heating pad. I made one from a mateless crew sock (that’s not even stuffed all the way!) and it’s the perfect size to cover my menstrual cramps. Granted, I’m small and skinny, but if you’re making them for kids too – well, they’ll be smaller than me 😉

3.87 from 52 votes (51 ratings without comment)

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