Simple Answers for Healthier Families
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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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
Ever made your own heating pad before? Leave us a comment and be sure to share this post with a friend!
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Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a wife and 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.
I love these! As a family of five (three children 6 and younger) we mostly use these for stomach aches. Whatever the reason or cause of a belly ache, the kids ask for their ‘belly bags’ to be warmed so they can put them on their belly to feel better. I have another scented one with my favorite spices to be warmed and put around my neck after a long day at work. The kids and I just decided to make some for Christmas gifts…perfect timing on this post. Thank you Wellness Mama! I have never been disappointed with your ideas, remedies and recipes.
I love the idea of adding spices for scented bags! What do you use and how much would you recommend?
For my 12 kids, I used to fill emptied cotton animals. When hey got bigger I switched to leg warmers lined with a thin sock… My kids, grandkids and even my great grandson are still using them. I like the texture of rice but prefer flax as it can deliver moist heat also and dries out well.
A little felt pad with essential oil is easy to change out.
Can brown rice be used
I have several smaller ones of these with a rice/lavender mix for headaches. Another rice one of similar size to yours sits in the freezer ready for aches and pains.
We also have a larger one full of beans to add some weight when laying down with an achy back or upset tummy– my boys love it.
With all of them, I have oven dried the beans and rice beforehand for mold prevention.
Which beans worked for you?
Do you know how to heat one in the stove or toaster oven? We don’t own a microwave.
I’m not sure how it would work in an oven unless you maybe wrap it in aluminum foil.
Put it in a glass baking dish and bake on 300 for 15 minutes.
I’ve heated up cotton rice packs in the oven, just make sure to use a pan with a lid. I’ve also used my rice cooker set to low for smaller packs, and I’m guessing that a crock pot might work too. I usually check it about every 5 minutes or so, and shake to make sure it is warming evenly.
At what temperature would you say for a palm sized bag and for how long? I’m wanting to make something special for my friends that are homesteading in Arkansas–they don’t have plumbing let alone a microwave. This seems like a perfect present for them and I’d like to add a cute set of instructions in their letter.
I agree, Joslyn. Microwaves are dangerous and I wouldn’t have one in our house. I’m sorry a natural site like this even espouses one.
I’ve written about microwaves here: https://wellnessmama.com/3736/microwave/
Omg. That’s scary. We’ve been using microwaves at home and at work for over 30 years with no side effects
Which essential oils (and how much) would you add to the rice for aromatherapy benefits?
Peppermint, Lavender, Spearmint, Rosemary, Chamomile, Lemongrass. Any of these would be good for muscle pain and relaxation. Approximately 20 -30 drops total of essential oils for an entire bag of rice. Be sure to mix and spread out and allow the rice to dry for an hour or so before utilizing.
Can you keep adding essential oils to the pack? Maybe have an inner bag and then Velcro the outer cover so you could add more oil?
This would be a good idea. Trying to figure out how to clean mine. It’s a very large one and needs washed. Wondering if I should just empty it,wash it and load with fresh rice.
Did you use instant rice or the uncooked? May have missed this answer, how long do you heat it’s? Thanks, love your post!
I am assuming it is regular rice, not instant rice since it did not specifically say instant. Also, the directions say to heat up for 60 seconds. I am going to try this when I get some rice and heat 30 seconds and then another 30 seconds just in case. Microwaves vary and I have a big old monster with a lot of power.
I’ve always stuck mine in the microwave for a couple of minutes. It gets really hot but it lasts longer. It smells like cooked rice but it still works.
I love to make these for people and have made many. I once made one for a friend of mine, but someone in her family had a rice allergy. I did a little googling, got creative, and instead used coffee beans. Not coffee grounds, but it turns out that the beans work the same way as rice! Great alternative, and it smells even better. However, I’ve also used essential oils in mine, and so far only peppermint works in coffee beans. When I use rice, though, I can add lavender, peppermint, orange, lemon, etc- depending on what I need/want. As far as the problem with the rice falling to one side, I sew mine into sections (make the general shape, fill about 1/3 full with rice, sew a line, sew another 1/3, sew a line, and then fill the rest of the bag before sewing it shut). This is helpful in keeping the rice evenly distributed. If you have worn fabric, holes are less of a mess if you sew in sections. Just a few thoughts to add to the bucket!
It smells like cooked rice because it is.
My wife and I have used the rice-filled “Bed Buddy” from WalMart. It’s so much nicer than a heating pad.
Thanks to you I now know how to make our own, and I know it can be frozen and will help my wife with her hot flashes. Wonderful!
Thanks Wellness Mama!
I love these rice packs and have made several. One time after a move, my rice bags were still packed so I filled my hubby’s sock with rice and popped it in the microwave to heat up. Well, heat up it did and caught fire. Imagine my surprise and disappointment. I think something unusual must have caused this to happen, however now I watch the bag heat up in the microwave (from a distance of course) thank you wellness mama for all of your information.
I believe the reason it might have caught fire was the fact that the sock was not 100% cotton. The other materials in the blend are what most likely caught fire.
This is so simple and helpful. We have one similar to the one you used in college. Will this DIY version work as a cold pack as well?
I’ve made and used these for years, I’m a grandma now, I love them since you can customize them, like if you have a problem area where you like heat all the time neck ect, you can customize one to fit that specific area, I have problems with lower back pain, so I make one with ties so It travels with me as I go about my day. you could use velcro, I can’t stay sitting all day when all I want is that warmth, usually on cold winter days.
My mother in law made me one of those probably 20 years ago. I didn’t like how all the rice would move to one end or the other, depending on how you held it. I helped her improve on the design. She always made hers with kitchen towels. I had her take the towel, fold it in half and sew baffles in the towel. The towel gets sewn on the sides but one end stays open where you can pour the rice in the baffles. Once filled, the remaining end gets sewn. This way the rice stays spread out pretty well and it covers a larger area.
I wish I knew this before I made my own one (well.. a gift). Another alternative like beans or seeds might be even more pleasant and affordable.. Anyone has other suggestions? I tried seeds and I find them awesome and we have them at home for our birds 🙂 and don´t forget to add herbs or essential oils for aromatherapy 🙂
Has anyone ever used wheat berries?
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