Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
Fill a tube sock with 4-5 cups or rice or until the sock is 3/4 filled.
At the end of the sock tie a knot and pull tightly so the knot can't come undone easily.
Optional: Add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice. Add a few sprigs of dried lavender or rosemary.
Place the rice filled sock in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. You can also place these in the freezer to make a cool pack.
These are great to put around a sore neck or on the small of a sore back. Also great during pregnancy. Make a few of them and put them on all your sore spots. These are much cheaper than the therapy bags sold in stores and work the same.
Note: Don't let the pack get wet.
By Stella Bella from Manchester, WA
I do this! It works great. I have lupus, my regular heating pad isn't as flexible. A friend shared this with me, been doing it ever since! Great post.
To make a nice heated rice bag, use fleece and make it as big or small as you like. Just put the white rice into the rectangular fleece bag and stitch it up. I'm sure you could also use a tube sock and just stitch up the end. Then you can put it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes to heat it up and put it on sore muscles or arthritis areas. (Also, our Chihuahua loves it to warm up in the winter). The rice keeps the heat for quite awhile and it is also moist heat. We have one rice bag from 15 years/ago that my mom made and it still works great!
I like barley and lavender for a great source of heat and a wonderful aroma. I have never heard of cherry stones, what a unique idea! On a different note, I opened up a beanbag type coffee coaster and found it was filled with birdseed! Aren't we the most clever creatures?
They are telling us we are going to get our first snow tonight here in Colorado and I was thinking that I needed to do something to warm up our bed to keep us warm at night when we turn down the furnace. So here is what I am going to do. I am going to get some of that polar fleece and make some bed warmers.
A lady at this site recommends using only field corn for safety reasons. She uses them in a hospital setting. I'm going to make one today for me freezing feet!
Take a tube sock of whatever size you would like and fill 3/4 full of instant rice. Put in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. You will have a natural heating pad.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
I am looking for instructions for making the bags that you can put in the microwave. The ones you use for aches and pains etc. What is inside and how do you clean them when needed?
PICO from ST. PAUL, ALBERTA
My sister made some of these with a medium weight cotton fabric. She used regular rice and added some essentail oil like peppermint and lavender. They smell great and are very soothing. Then she sewed a little pillowcase for it out of some old upholstery that was pretty. That way, when it gets dirty, you just take off the pillowcase and wash it.
Here's a coincidence! Not 30 minutes ago I finished two hot pads for my Chihuahuas. I used 100% cotton fabric and 100% cotton batting (thin). I cut 6 layers of fabric using a plate for the shape and 2 layers of the batting. Layer 2 fabric, 1 batting, 1 fabric. Sew around the rim of all and leave a 4 inch opening. Turn it inside out so the batting has fabric on each side. This gives you a low temp side with the batting, and a higher temp side with the fabric. I stuffed them with cheap, bulk rice and then sewed the opening shut. Popped them in the microwave for 90 seconds.
A word of warning--a friend put his nylon or polyester socks in the microwave to dry them after he got caught in the rain. They melted and started a fire in the room.
I've been thinking of finding a cotton shirt and sewing on a liner with vertical tubes to fill with rice. I'd have the tubes run around the shoulders and across the back. My bursitis just yells for it. --Stone in OKC
I love DIY! I've used rice in a sock, but have found it eventually, "cooks". Has anyone ever tried saving and drying out tea bags, (without staples), to use a a filler?
I use one filled with rice and it has lasted a long time but then it would probably depends on how often one is used and the time spent in a microwave.
Not sure about tea bags as some of "coverings" are questionable as to safety if placed dry in a microwave.
I did find some other suggestions for you to consider:
Also found a "comparison" test on 3 different fillers:
If you liked your present bag using rice then maybe you could just plan to make a new one every so many days/weeks.
I saw one today that was made of sand.....
I had a pattern for a heating pad that has a removable inner pouch that is filled with rice or clean kitty litter. It can be heated up in the microwave and used many times. I cannot find the information about heating times and was hoping your site would have that.
The website I went to said 75 seconds. However, microwaves vary greatly. I would start at 45 seconds and keep checking every 10-15 seconds. When you get the right timing, write it down so you remember for the next time.
Two minutes is usually the desired time if you stuff the bag with deer corn. I find the deer corn stays warmer longer. If you are planning to have a senior or elderly person use it, wrap a small towel around it before placing it on skin. Also it depends on the wattage on the microwave as well.
I need a pattern for a hot/cold neck pack. Thank you.
By cotygirl from Canada
I've made rice bags from muslin. No pattern, really. Here are approximate measurements, based on one of my existing rice bags.
I cut a piece of muslin about 12" X 11". Fold it in half to 6'" X 11". Stitch along the bottom (short) side and the long side. Turn right side out. Fill with desired amount of rice. Fold unfinished edges in, and run two lines of stitches (for extra security) along the last side.
When I've given these as gifts, I've made covers out of flannel. Just make it a little larger than the rice bag like a pillow case. I made a couple button holes and buttons on the open end to make it cuter and to help keep the bag from shifting/sliding out.
The quickest way to make a hot-cold pack is by taking a pillow case (made of cotton or 50/50 cotton-poly) then pour in one or 2 boxes or bags of any type of rice. (Minute rice OR regular). Then tie a knot on the end of this pillow case so the rice stays in.
To heat: Simply microwave it to heat the rice up. Usually for 2 or 3 minutes. You can also freeze it. But I prefer to instead use this rice-bag for only heating, then use a bag of frozen peas or corn for cooling. Buy 2 bags of peas & switch them out when the first starts to melt. When you no longer need the frozen peas (or corn) you can eat the veggies. (as long as they stayed frozen!)
I like the way you can take the warm rice-bag with you in the car, unlike a heating pad, this bag is portable!
If you know how to sew, you can turn the empty pillow case inside-out, then sew 2 seams up the middle of the pillow case 1 inch apart, then with scissors cut between the seams so you'll have 2 thin tubes, then fill with rice & knot the ends. If you use a pillow case you will have lots of room to move the rice around for your best fit & comfort. Buy your pillow cases at Second Hand at any Thrift Store or Garage Sale for 50 cents.
---> If they get dirty, simply un-knot the pillow case then dump the rice into a container & wash & dry the fabric then refill with the rice again. Easy, Fast & Cheap... Plus, if you are poor, you can buy the rice & frozen peas with Food Stamps & eat them when you no longer need the hot-cold packs!
* If you want a nice scent, add several tablespoons of Dried Lavender, Whole Cloves or slightly crushed Cinnamon Sticks to the Rice.
I have a zipper on my wheat bag. Can I heat it in a microwave?
By John H
I wouldn't. I would take the zipper cover off, and just heat the inside bag. If the zipper is all plastic, it might be fine, but I still wouldn't do it. I have gotten hot spots in my wheat bag that burn through the flannel cover when it has been slightly overheated. I think nuking the zipper is just asking for trouble.
I agree. What you might want to do is just pour your barley or the medium you heat in an old single sock. Then, tie a knot or sew it closed. No metal and no worries. Just a thought. PBP
I've made heat pads before and had no problem with them, but I do not remember what kind of rice to use. I'm concerned about fire.
I bought Carolina Jasmine enriched Thai fragrant long grain rice (Thai Hom Mali Rice) and Lundberg California white Basmati aromatic long grain rice. Does anyone know how safe these are?
By Marjae from NY
Mostly I've used whatever rice I had on hand. If I have to go buy some, I buy whatever is the cheapest store brand there. I've also mixed it with deer corn, dried beans, dried peas, lentils, almost anything like that is just fine. Never had a problem with any of it. Have fun with it. I just made 3 of them today!
I haven't done this for a few years, but when I did, I simply used whatever rice I had on hand. Honestly, I think I even used Minute Rice on occasion. :-) I just kept an eye on such as I was heating it in the microwave (usually less than two minutes) and it always turned out fine. As well, I was doing so super thrifty style and used clean, lone, tube socks as the casing. It's amazing how a clean, lone, tube sock filled with warm, dried rice can help a stiff neck!
I made a heat pad with rice, but when I first got it out of the micro wave it was sweating. Why?
By Cindy W.
Because rice has moisture in it, even though it seems dry. Incidentally, did you know that if popcorn was entirely dry, it wouldn't pop? It's that tiny bit of moisture that heats up to make it explode.
Over time, it'll stop sweating. I think with ours on about the 3rd or 4th use it stops that.
I use popcorn, too, but find that is does tend to pop in there, and also the smell from the heated popcorn bag starts to bug us after 20 or so uses, but not so the rice bags. We love these in our house all winter for taking to bed at night, and they make great Christmas presents!
I made a heating pad with rice out of a small square pillow case that I bought at the dollar store. I ripped out the zipper and sewed it up for microwave use. I used the pad maybe 20 times and then it exploded in the microwave. The rice was smelling like pop corn each time. When it exploded, the rice was burned. I used just plain white rice and heated it for up to 5 minutes each time as it was about 5 lbs of rice. And it wouldn't feel good unless it was heated for a few minutes then turned over and heated another minute or so. Has this happened to anyone else? What did I do wrong? Material type, type of rice? Heating length? (but I needed it hot, not just warm). Thanks.
I've been making, using and giving microwave heating pads to many people for the last 24 years and have never had this problem. I use feed corn sometimes called field corn. 50 lb bags for 10 - 15 dollars. Makes a LOT of heating pads. 5 minutes is too long. I think 5 pounds of rice is too much. I usually take a piece of printer paper (8 by 11) and use it as a rough pattern.
I use fleece which usually causes the pads to be a little moist sometimes. Sometimes I use cotton flannel. I fill the bags to just over half full, you don't want them too heavy. I tell people 2-3 minutes max. Yes these do smell a little funky at first but I usually add lavender buds, or essential oils. Lavender is nice and peppermint is really nice also. They stay warm for a very long time.
Cherry pits can also be used, you can get them online but I only use feed corn. You can just fill a sock up and tie the end and it will work. Ikea has these fleece/flannel blankets for like 2 or 3 dollars they have cut out pattern designs around the edges. You can make many heating pads and then make pillow cases for them with the decorated edges.
Very nice very "thrifty", loved by all . You can make many Christmas presents for under $20 yea! Microwave 2-3 min. If you live where it's cold heat one up before getting in the car and rest it on your lap, it will keep you warm till the car heats up. You can make them in many shapes and sizes. Also small ones for pockets, just heat them for about 1 minute. Oops! Sorry I got carried away. Oh, you can also put them in the freezer and use as a cold pack.
I also agree that 5 minutes was likely too long. I have one my neighbour made for me; it is filled with wheat and she put 3 or 4 cloves in it for the aroma. I have had the cloves overheat and char the flannel, and make a little hole. I only ever heat it for three minutes, and then re-heat for 2. Mine is about 1 pound, maybe two. I suspect that 5 pounds is too big, and parts of it overheated before the center got warm, and this caused your explosion.
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
I was also going to say to use rice. I would think it wouldn't be safe to microwave the silica beads and probably not the glycerin ones either.
You can use dried beans as well.
I am looking for instructions for how to make cow corn microwave heating pads.
By Barbara from Haverhill, MA
I make all of mine from long grain rice. It is comfortable and stays warm for hours. I use a hand towel and fold it in half to form the bag. you can fold it lengthwise for a long one to go around your neck or at the center to create a size that would do well on the knee, elbow, or small of the back. Use a heavy needle and thread. I sew mine on the machine and hand-sew the opening. Don't use a regular funnel to fill as it will be ever so slow and troublesome. I use a large heavy pc of paper bag and roll it to form a funnel with at least an inch to 1 1/2" opening. To heat, (I like mine hot) I use 1 1/2 min. per pound of rice. Hope this helps!
Just make sure the fabric you use is 100% cotton (or wool or silk)!
I just bought fleece fabric to make rice pack cover, but neglected to check fabric content. Must it be 100% cotton to be used in microwave?
By Jackie P
When making a microwave heating pad can it be sewn with polyester thread? I am afraid of the thread melting or over-heating and causing a fire?
By Elise L
Can you use vanilla essential oil purchased from the Dollar Store, or vanilla flavored tea bags, or vanilla scented potpourri in the rice heat pad?
By Carmela S.
The last two, yes. Anything you put in with a dry grain and esp' in a fabric bag must be dry. That sounds like a wonderful project though. Try peach and orange cinnamon tea and let us know how it went?
I saw the cutest pattern for a cold pack for kids that was made like a chicken (it reminded me of the owl patterns you see everywhere). It was so cute. I wanted to make some for my great niece and great nephews who are always getting boo boos. Now I can't find the pattern. Please help me find a pattern and help the kids with their boo boos.
Don't know about a chicken, but I use a Boo Boo Bunny. Instructions are here: http://familyfu oo-bunny-660989/
I stitch the face instead of use the glue on eyes and such so it is okay for the littlest child to use. Use it dry, wet, cold or warm to help whatever the boo boo might be. It holds an icecube very easily and absorbs the water as it melts. Good luck
I see the pattern for the neck band made from a sock. I was wondering if you have any other styles or shapes that I could try. The bands are the ones that you heat of make cold and are filled with rice.
How much dried lavender do you put in a rice bag, hot/cold pack?
By Jeannie Y. from Elizabethtown, KY
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Can you use polyester fabric for making the microwave heating bags?
By Becky from Tucson, AZ
I wouldn't.The fabric would probably melt in the microwave. I get my flannel baby blankets at the thrift stores to make them with. (01/04/2011)
I use socks that are without mates and put rice in them. I place one in a jar and fold the top around the lid of the jar and pour in rice. I leave enough room for a knot to be tied in the sock. Microwave until it is hot enough; I rarely go a full minute. I will occasionally empty the rice out and wash the sock and refill it. It is a good freezer rice sock too for booboos. I just like to use old white socks, the ones you get in the big bags at Walmart. They get really hot. I use them when I get an ear infection or have a really bad bruise. They fit to the body part when they are in the freezer they are not hard like ice and won't melt.
By Robyn Fed
I personally wouldn't! I agree about polyester melting in the microwave because it's made from plastics. Have you ever put certain plastic or Styrofoam food containers, or even plastic baggies, in the microwave for a couple or more minutes? Not only can and do they melt, but also emit fumes that are released during the melting process. Please use cotton fabrics. (01/05/2011)
I too use the cheapest rice in a cotton sock. You can mix some nice essential oil in with the rice before filling the sock then secure it at the top. I put it into the microwave until it's at a heat I can place on my body. The essential oil will stop the smell of rice when heated. Also, you can do two and place one in the freezer to use as an ice pack this is good as it does not freeze. Let us know how you go on. Helen xxx (01/06/2011)
I am going to make some therapeutic bags for heating and cooling muscles and injuries. I plan to use flax seed for filler. What is the best kind of fabric (heat resistant, yet breathes) for me to use as the outer shell?
By Trixee from Phoenix, AZ
I made rice bags years ago, and I used unbleached muslin. I heat them in the microwave. I've not had any problems. (11/22/2010)
Jersey knit, like from jersey t-shirt sheets works great too! (11/22/2010)
Rice would be better than flax seed. The flax seed is smaller and easier to burn if you have it in too long. Rice burns too, but not as easily. They all crumble with time. Stocking fabric is good. Buy tube socks and use them. Cut off at the ankle and sew it at both ends. (11/24/2010)
Flax seed will mold when exposed to moisture and the oils in it will probably turn rancid when exposed to repeated heat. I'd use rice, beans, or something dry. (11/25/2010)
I have a friend who sells these at a chiropractor's office locally. She recommends only using cotton fabric (denim) and cotton thread and then fills them with corn from a feed store. They heat evenly, stay warm longer, and the cotton will not flame out in the microwave.
I made microwaveable heatpacks using terry cloth and rice. I put Velcro across one end so the rice could be emptied out and the terry washed. I also made covers for this using different fabrics for the different seasons. Good luck. (11/26/2010)