Microwave heating pads, often filled with rice, are used to soothe aches and pains. This is a guide about microwave heating pads.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
If you want a really simple and quick microwave heating pad, this is a frugal way to throw one together.
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
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. Have kids or anyone decorated it with stamps or clothing paint.
By Linda from Decatur, IL
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!
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.
Make a square out of polar fleece and fill it with clean kitty litter. These then can be popped into the microwave and put in our bed to warm it up before we get in. Since the kitty litter will hold the heat, it should keep us very warm this winter.
By Debra in CO
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Here are questions related to Microwave Heating Pads.
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
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!
I am looking for instructions for how to make cow corn microwave heating pads.
By Barbara from Haverhill, MA
I found that if you place a small cup of water in the microwave as you heat your rice bag the rice will get that burnt smell and it helps with the moist heat. Also, I made a fleece sleeve cover for my rice bags, it helps hold the moist heat in longer .
Beans, and cheery pits work best, as they are a larger grain and hold their heat longer. Does anyone have any ideas for non-stop use . I injured my back and I am non-stop using my rice heating pads and the microwave heating is slower when you are trying to heat up more then one heating pad.
I thought of setting up a steaming pot on the stove top to set more then one heating pad in so I would have instant heated pads on hand as one or more cooled down. But I'm not sure if that would actually cook the rice or not?
I need a pattern for a hot/cold neck pack. Thank you.
By cotygirl from Canada
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 made a heat pad with rice, but when I first got it out of the micro wave it was sweating. Why?
By Cindy W.
By Jennifer 11/12/2011
Rice has a moisture content that comes out when microwaved. Lots of people dampen the rice bag before heating so you get a moist heat which is soothing for chest colds and sore muscles.
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.
By Linda Kennedy01/31/2012
Don't know about a chicken, but I use a Boo Boo Bunny. Instructions are here: http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/boo-boo-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
How much dried lavender do you put in a rice bag, hot/cold pack?
By Jeannie Y. from Elizabethtown, KY
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
I don't know about the rice, but I do know that deer corn works great. The corn has a moist heat and holds up very well, no worry about fire.
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 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.
By Louise B.09/07/2013
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.
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
By Eileen M.09/19/2013
That should not be a problem since you're only heating it for a minute or so in the microwave.
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.
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
By ollie (Guest Post)10/06/2006
For a medicinal heat pack for arthritis and rheumatism, dry roast in a clean pan equal amounts of fine diced old root ginger and rock salt till the ginger is golden and dry. Make a thick cotton case large enough to hold the mixture so that when flat the heat pack is 1 inch thick and seal. Make another as a washable case to put over it.
This can be heated in a microwave oven for 1 to 2 minutes to the desirable temperature. Do not over heat as salt can retain high heat and cause burns on fragile skin. Place on affected areas to soothe the pain. Store in dry cupboard when not in use.
By Marinelle Stone12/05/2005
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
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.
I take a terry cloth tea towel. I fold it in half length wise. I then sew it in thirds. I then fill it about half full of field corn in each of the three pockets. I then double stitich around the towel.
I heat in the micowave about 4 miniutes. When it no longer keeps the heat or it gets dirty, throw it in the washer. Lay it out to dry (DON'T) put it in the dryer.
This works great on a knee as it is big enough to lay on the top of the knee and around the sides. Enjoy!
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
Tips and ideas for making your own heat pack. Post your ideas.
By Judi in Orlando
Microwave for about 5 minutes--times vary remove.
Then wrap inside a towel or pillow case (05/23/2005)
By Lucie Mclaud
I've made my own. If you can sew a straight stitch on the sewing machine, you can too. Measure the area where you will want to apply the pack. If for example the area is 12 inches by 13 inches, you will need a piece of material 25 inches by 27 inches. You will have about a 1 inch seam. take your material over to your ironing board. With the wrong/inside of the material facing you, fold the 'top' edge of the material down about an inch & iron it flat. Do the same with the 'bottom' edge of the material. Now with the 'right'/outside of the material together, fold the maaterial in half. Pin the short side together, so you will have an envelope effect. Straight stitch the pinned ends. Turn the 'envelope' inside-out. Press the envelope flat. (All this ironing makes the sewing easier as it makes your project lie flat & easier to sew.) Fold the envelope in half & iron it,then fold the half in half again & iron that. Take some pins and put them where the ironed folds are. Go to your machine & sew from the top down to the first corner on your right. When you get to the corner, lift up your pressure foot, leaving the needle in the material, turn the material so you will be sewing along the bottom edge. Sew slowly so that when you get to the place where the pins are in the ironed fold, aso you can swivel the material & after having removed the pins you can sew from the bottom to the opened top. When you get to the top, you now have sewn in a U shape. Swivel the material so that you can go back down on the line you have just sewn to the bottom. When you get to the bottom swivel the material so that you are sewing along the bottom edge until the next set of pins in the middle fold. Sew up & down again & make another U.Now you have 2 'pockets' completed. Do this twice more and when you come to the top on the left side you will have 4 'pockets'.
Now you can fill them with rice. I use Jasmine rice as it doesn't have an old musty smell after a few uses (my rice packs have been in the microwave about 500 times. I've tried adding lavender to them but haven't been able to get the right preportions.) I use the top I've cut off a plastic coke bottle for the funnel. Fill the 'pockets' about half-way full. Carefully lay the pack down so that you won't spill all the rice out. Push the rice down to the bottom of the pack & pin along the top edge of the rice NOT the top of the pack. Use as many pins as necessary so the the rice does not escape & get in the way of you're sewing the final seam across the top. I always make one row of stitching across the top & then make another row of stitching just to make sure. I have wrapped them in a towel on occasion to keep them from getting dirty. But I finally make 'covers' for them. Now stick them in the Microwave & ENJOY. (06/05/2005)
I also use about a half-bag of that scented ground potpourri (for sachets) you can buy at WalMart in the crafts section, per heat-pack. (It comes in lavender and other scents like Gardenia and Cinnamon.) Mix up about 2 cups of the oatmeal with 1-2 cups of the flax, and the sachet-potpourri, and fill about 3/4 full in a long sewn-together tube of fabric (about 30" x 6 or 7" folded in half), then sew ends together.
Microwave for one minute on high at first -- then just 30 seconds to warm it up each time after it starts cooling down within that same hour. I wouldn't live without these in the winter -- and I LOVE how they smell so great too! (11/08/2005)
By Ruth V
BUT, a zillion years ago, an old Italian Grandma helped me out by heating "kosher" salt in a pot and filling a white cotton sock with it. She sewed the top and that was it. Of course now you can heat the sock with the salt in it in the microwave. I never used any scents, just plain old "kosher" salt. (12/31/2005)
We have all seen those microwave heating pads selling in the stores for big bucks, and I always thought "Boy I wish I knew how to make one" They look so easy to make. So my new friend Wendy gave me the "directions" and it is easy enough to do and so helpful to those of us who get cold easily or have sore muscles.
It's pretty easy to make a wheat bag heating pad. All you need is some strong material like cotton, canvas, or tartan, as long as there's no give in it, so it doesn't stretch. Keep in mind, it needs to be pretty thick so when the wheat is heated (and it gets pretty hot) that you don't burn yourself.
Once you pick your material, cut a square about 18" each side and fold it in half so it's inside out. It will be oblong shape. Stitch down one short side and the long side. A sewing machine works best as you need short stitches close together, so the wheat doesn't come out. If you stitch by hand go over it again to make sure the stitches are tight. Next, turn it the right way in so the seam is on the inside. You will need to buy some Flax seed or Wheat. They need to be the whole kernel. Fill the bag about 1/2 way, then stitch the one side that is left, sealing it tight.
If you are handy with sewing, and don't mind a little extra work, you might want to divide the bag into sections, maybe in 4. Put in 1/4 of your seeds then stitch the bag 1/4 of the way up, drop in another 1/4 of the seeds and stitch those in, repeating for the rest, so you will have 4 compartments full of seeds, instead of one big one. Then you will have seeds fairly distributed throughout your hand made heating pad. This isn't necessary, but a great tip.
At this point, if you desire, you can use essential oils to sprinkle on the material for aromatherapy.
You will need to microwave it for about 2 minutes.
* Please note all microwaves are different, so please "test" it a few times for more or less time to see what works for you. Please use caution when first using it, as it might come out of the microwave very hot. It stays warm for a couple of hours. You can also put these in the fridge/freezer if the cold is better for you.
If you want, you can make these any shape you like. For example, a horseshoe for your neck or a heart for a child to hold when going to sleep, etc. You can make these as big or as small as you desire. Just remember that you are going to need as many seeds as it takes to fill 1/2 the bag. Usually about 1lb is enough for the 18" bags.
These heating pads make great gifts for yourself or for others. They can be reused time and time again.
Good luck making yours.
About The Author: Christine Miserandino is a writer, motivational speaker, and patient advocate from NY. Her writing has been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines, medical newsletters and television media. Check out http://www.ButYouDontLookSick.com to read more of her articles, and to receive her monthly newsletter.
Mary Lynn (07/10/2005)
Harlean from AR (03/28/2007)
From Manny in Australia (09/17/2008)
Need instructions to sew hot/cold packs made from dried beans or rice and aromatic herbs for neck or muscle aches. Have some time during surgery recovery to make these as thank you gifts.
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?