Homemade Heat Packs

Therapeutic heat packs can be quite helpful to treating aching muscles and other ailments. You don't need to buy an expensive one at the store, when you can easily make one at home. This is a guide about homemade heat packs.

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Warming Rice BagsThis simple little bag can help relieve anything from minor pain to major pain. Simple and easy to make and use and with the harshness of cold weather it can alleviate pain associated with arthritis. Consider making one for someone who needs pain relief. Makes a wonderful Christmas or birthday gift for young or old.

Approximate Time: 20 minutes


  • sewing machine
  • heavy material
  • regular rice


  1. Cut a piece of material 15 inches long by 6 inches wide.
  2. Turn it to the wrong side and start stitching from one corner almost all the way around.
  3. Leave one small side open for stuffing. (I normally sew this twice to ensure the rice doesn't come out.)
  4. Turn the bag inside out and run a stitch through the middle. Leave about 3 inches so you can pour the rice in each tube like area.
  5. Start filling with dry rice and fill until about 3 inches are left at the top. Turn the ends of the top over and stitch it together.

Heating instructions:

With everything safety comes first. Only use a microwave to heat the bag. Do not put the microwave on longer than 3 minutes.

If hot to touch allow to cool or wrap in a towel. Apply to areas that hurt for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Doctors usually recommend 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.

If you smell the rice you probably have the temperature too high. Take it out immediately.

These make wonderful gifts for older adults who suffer aches and pains regularly. They are much safer than a heating pad.

Rice bags can be made in any size or shape. Smaller ones are used for headaches and earaches. Larger ones are great for back, arm and leg pains. Some Ladies like them during their cycle to help relieve the cramps.

Enjoy making a small gift that can last a lifetime if taken care of.

Do NOT put in water. If it needs to be cleaned use a vacuum cleaner to clean it. If you are really obsessed with cleanliness put it in a pillowcase or make a cover just slightly bigger than bag and cover your bag.

You may want to make one in several sizes to keep on hand for yourself or family. Enjoy the comfort of warmth in painful areas.

By Gem from VA

CommentMoreRead More...Was this helpful?Helpful? Yes

How do you make herbal heat and cold packs with rice or feed corn? Does anyone know of easy patterns for these?

Beverly from Fall River Mills, CA

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I made my first rice hot/cold pack today and lo and behold, hubby hurt his shoulder. I heated the pack up and it was great. Except, it smelled like cooked rice. I wasn't sure I wanted to use any scent, because I wanted them for my migraines, and odors make me ill during a migraine. Will this odor go away in time or will it always smell like Uncle Ben is here?

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I use rice for my heat packs, but have found it breaks down too fast. I make these heat packs for my Chihuahuas. They are used a lot and heated up frequently.

By Karin

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I use wheat. and it holds the heat for a long time. Been using one for years. Just don't over cook it. Microwave 1 to 1 1/2 mins.

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How do you prepare the rice for use in hot packs?

By Bev

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You don't have to do anything to the rice. I put a sock in a jar and fold over the top of the sock over the mouth of a jar and just pour it in the sock. Then I tie a knot in the sock.

Don't use any kind of metal tie such as a hair elastic with a little metal piece on it or it will ruin the microwave. I always just tie a knot in the sock. Then microwave for about a minute or so.

They can get very hot so be careful if you are using it on someone else.


Robyn from Tennessee

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My friend has frequent joint pain and I would like to make her a rice heating pad, but she does not have a microwave. Is there any other way to heat the rice heating pad? I think the pad would catch fire if she tried to heat it up in an oven! Any solutions out there? (She won't buy a microwave.)

By Linda W.

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Hair dryer?

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I want to know if I can use plastic beads to fill the bags?

By Elizabeth

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You can also use dried corn kernels. Smells like popcorn when you put it in the microwave.

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Can I use silica gel beads as filling for a microwavable heat pack? Or, I've heard of glycerin beads, but can't locate them. Any ideas?

By vcates from South Jordan, UT

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Hi there! We use men's tube socks or women's knee high socks for heat packs (one of a pair that remains with no holes or tears) and fill with dried white or brown rice or dried barley. Works like a charm and if the sock happens to rip, we save as much rice or barley as possible, boil it up and add it to our dogs' food before starting all over with another stray sock. Can't get much thriftier than that! :) Good luck!

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I want to make my own heat packs as Christmas gifts. Some have posted that they use rice, others use flax, some use oatmeal, etc. The ingredients don't cook or go rancid, etc. after use?

Also, which ingredient can I use for scent? Some say lavender turns after being heated and there were a few scents that didn't work at all.


By BeachMouse from Canada

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

The only thing I use is rice, beans or both. No, they do not go bad or rancid as I've had mine for at least 5 years and use it over and over.

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What heat pack filler stays hottest the longest?

By Christiana

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I use a mixture of rice and beans and my heat pack always stays warm at least an hour.

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I would like to make a bean or rice heat pack, but I have a few questions. What fabric should you use? Are they safe for children? How long do you microwave them? I wanted to make them for my nephews for Christmas, who are both just under two years old. I worry about them chewing on them. I wanted to make a 2-D pattern of an animal. Any good suggestions on shapes or cut outs to use?

Kayc from Rochester, MI

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Hi Kayc,

I make and sell the rice bags and I make them out of fleece, then microwave them 2-3 minutes. You get a nice moist heat with the fleece and you can find all kinds of patterns. You can also put them in the freezer for the little boo boos the little ones have. Make them any size you want. I make most of mine for adults and they are 12 inches by 12 inches. Good luck from another Michigander, Barb

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I would like to make some homemade heat packs, but I would like to use felted wool. Does anyone know if this would pose a fire problem in the microwave? Also, I would like a lighter material than rice to use as a filling. Any suggestions? Perhaps millet?

Joyce from IN

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

For not so nice looking packs, I have also used a rice filled men's athletic sock. Just nuke it for about 3-4 minutes to use (make sure the animal/human won't be touching it or it is wrapped up at first because it will be hot!)

Works wonderfully when we have a cold snap and the furnace can't quite keep up. Not only do they add heat, but humidity, which makes the air seem warmer and for many pets is very important. We have used these for keeping warm finches, parakeets, hamsters, our iguana and us. They also work great in our dog's crate, though we just usually let her sleep with us on night's like that.

The rice can start to smell burnt, but we have found it doesn't make a difference.

If you want nicer looking packs, you can use the sock filled with rice as the inner layer and make the nicer, outer layer removable for washing.

Have fun!

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What type of corn do you use in a heat pack?

Deej from Phoenix, AZ

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Buy feed corn at a feed store; sometimes it's called deer corn. Be sure and microwave the corn you're putting into the heat pads... not a long time, maybe a minute or so. I didn't microwave the corn and imagine my surprise when I saw these bug-like things in the closet... it was weevils hatched from the corn. Good grief :)

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Can you use oil such as eucalyptus in a homemade heat pack with rice?

Terri from Tacoma, WA

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Yes you can use oil with your heat packs. What I did was use lavendar essential oils and poured just a drop of two directly on the rice. The scent lasted a long time and was more pronounced when placed in the microwave for warming. Remember, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should never use essential oils on their skin.

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  • 1 part dried lavender flowers
  • 1 part dried eucalyptus buds
  • 1 part buckwheat seeds
  • 1 pouch fashioned into two sections


Sew fabric into two equal sections leaving ends open. Divide ingredients into either end and sew shut. For stress headaches heat in microwave for 30 seconds. For migraine headaches place in freezer and then apply as necessary.

By Suzanne S.

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Crafts MiscellaneousMay 26, 2013
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