How to Make Rice Bags for Heat Therapy: A Beginner’s Guide

Heat therapy can work wonders for your aching bones, stiff muscles, bad circulation, stress, tension, and more. [1] Electric blankets and heating pads can bring instant relief; hot water bottles are a great bedtime companion, but have you ever thought about creating your own microwaveable heat therapy pack?

These heat therapy packs are basically a bag filled with something like dried rice or beans. The pack can be heated in the microwave for heat therapy or cooled on the freezer and used as an ice pack.

These packs can be used to treat all manner of ailments, but the best thing about them is how easy they are to make. We made some at home and were surprised at how effective they were. If you would like to know how to make your own, then take a look at our easy tutorial.

Introduction

The first thing you need to decide is the shape and size of your heat pack. What shape should you go for? It does not really matter. As long as the pack is big enough to fit the area you need to treat, the shape can be anything; circle, square, star, unicorn? When you have your shape in mind, draw it on some fabric (twice), and add a 1/2 inch around the outside for the seam. We will go into more detail in the tutorial.

Filler Options

  • Uncooked rice (the cheapest variety is fine)
  • Grains such as wheat, buckwheat, oatmeal, and barley
  • Feed corn or beans
  • Seeds such as flax
  • Cherry pits

Fabric Options

You could go out and buy yourself some fabric, but old fabric you have around the house would work too. Try to use fabrics which feel good against your skin and will not irritate you. You should keep in mind that you should only use cotton fabric in the microwave. Choose whatever fabric looks and feels good for you.

cotton napkin

Aromatherapy Options

When it comes time to choose your aromatherapy options (if you wish to), you can use any oils or dried herbs that you like. Use between 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oils or a cup of your favorite herbs. You can use both if you wish. We love to use lavender, rosemary, and chamomile for relaxing. Peppermint or ginger work great as stimulants.

Dried Herbs for a Rice Bag

Things You'll Need for the "Massage Gear Guru" Style Heating Pad

  • 20 to 30 drops of essential oil (a single oil or a mixture)
  • 1/4 yard of fabric
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • 1 cup of your favorite dried herbs (individual herbs or a mixture)

Essential Oil Heat Pack

Step 1
Take 6 cups of dried rice in a large bowl and add your essential oils. Make sure to add the oil evenly around the rice. Wait for ten minutes and then use your hands to thoroughly mix the oil. Allow to dry for an hour.

Step 2
Draw your design onto your fabric (twice) and cut. Make sure that the design will fit comfortably on the area you are targeting. For example, your neck will need a longer design than your lower back.

Step 3
Place the two pieces of fabric together, with the outside sides facing each other. Sew the two pieces of fabric together on three sides. Stick your hand inside and pull the bag inside out, so that the sides you want on the outside are now outside.

Step 4
Fill the bag with your rice and essential oil mixture. Do not fill the bag more than two thirds full. This will give the bag flexibility.

Step 5
Sew the remaining side together to close the bag.

Step 6
Place the bag in the microwave and heat on high for two minutes. Check the bag. Heat for longer if needed or allow to cool. Place on the needed area and enjoy some heat therapy. Place the bag in the freezer to cool and use as an ice pack for cold therapy (great for recent injuries or strains).

Dried Herb Heat Therapy Pack

Step 1
Place 6 cups of rice in a large bowl and add a cup of dried herbs. You can use whichever herbs you like. You can use one herb or a combination of a few.

Step 2
Draw your design onto your fabric (twice) and cut. Make sure that the design will fit comfortably on the area you are targeting. For example, your neck will need a longer design than your lower back.

Step 3
Place the two pieces of fabric together, with the outside sides facing each other. Sew the two pieces of fabric together on three sides. Stick your hand inside and pull the bag inside out, so that the sides you want on the outside are now outside.

Step 4
Fill the bag with your rice and herb mixture. Do not fill the bag more than two thirds full. This will give the bag flexibility.

Step 5
Sew the remaining side together to close the bag.

Step 6
Place the bag in the microwave and heat on high for two minutes. Check the bag. Heat for longer if needed or allow to cool. Place on the needed area and enjoy some heat therapy. Place the bag in the freezer to cool and use as an ice pack for cold therapy (great for recent injuries or strains).


If you do not own a sewing machine, then check out this video for a great alternative.

How to Use Heat Therapy Packs

  • Place on your back to rid yourself of pain. By placing heat on your muscles, you will reduce stiffness and soreness. The heat helps to relax the muscles, and it also boosts your circulation. The combination of the malleable muscles and increased blood flow will help to relieve pain. Use on your shoulders and neck too. In fact, use on any part of your body which has pain.
  • What should heat packs be used for? Getting rid of the cold, right? There is nothing better on those cold winter nights than snuggling up with a ball of heat. There are times when the heating just won’t cut it. There are times when you just cannot afford to blast your heating through the night. Take your heat pack to bed. Cuddle up to it or place it under your toes. The perfect way to stay warm all night. Stay warm and enjoy better sleep.
  • Treat sicknesses, such as colds and flu with a heat pack. They will keep you warm, and they will also keep your muscles warm. Take away some of the aches and pains and speed up your recovery.
  • Use the heat pack as a foot or hand warmer. If you make them small enough, you can fit them inside a glove. Place a large pack under your feet in a cold car or when you have returned from a snowball fight or winter hike.
  • Always remember to take care of yourself and you heat pack. Check for any holes or frayed stitching. The rice can get hot inside, and you do not want to get burned. Also, check after heating that it is not too hot for yourself or anyone else who is using it.
Jeanette Lynn
 

Jeanette has been a professional massage therapist since 1998. She devotes her life to helping those who suffer from musculoskeletal pain. She's also a Pilates instructor and has a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).

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