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How To Make Microwaveable Heat Packs

I love being warm–probably more than anyone I know. I have a Heat Dish and I put the blow-dryer in my bed for a few minutes to warm it up before I hop in at night. When I visited my parent’s (very cold) home, I used one of their microwaveable heat packs, and I decided I needed one of those too. Cue sewing machine!

These are super simple to make and work wonders when it comes to soothing sore muscles and staying warm. I absolutely love mine.

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Microwaveable Heat Packs

Supplies:

Field corn/whole corn (or any kind of rice)

-Fabric

-Sewing supplies

Ready for an easy DIY project that you can use anytime you are cold or sore? Of course you are! This post is all about how to make microwaveable heat packs. They are super cheap to make and can be used over and over.

Step One

Decide what size you want your heat pad to be. A rectangular one works great for warming feet and soothing a sore back, and a long skinny one is heavenly to drape around your neck. Cut two pieces of fabric into the size and shape you want your pad to be. Remember to account for a seam, as this will shrink your heating pad by about 1/2 inch. This is a great sewing project for fat quarters.

Ready for an easy DIY project that you can use anytime you are cold or sore? Of course you are! This post is all about how to make microwaveable heat packs. Check them out!

Step Two

Put the “wrong” sides (the sides you want to end up on the outside) of the fabric pieces together and start sewing around the outer edge, about 1/2 inch in. Don’t sew around the entire thing, you will want to leave enough space to be able to turn the bag inside out. Your seam will account for about 2-3 inches.

Ready for an easy DIY project that you can use anytime you are cold or sore? Of course you are! This post is all about how to make microwaveable heat packs. Learn more here!

Step Three

Using the space you have left, turn your bag inside out (so now the “right” sides of the fabric are showing) and fill the bag with your corn or rice. Fill the bag about 3/4 full. You will want it to be flexible, so don’t leave it jam-packed.

Ready for an easy DIY project that you can use anytime you are cold or sore? Of course you are! This post is all about how to make microwaveable heat packs. It will be your new favorite item!

Step Four

The last step is to sew up the hole in the bag. Tuck the raw ends inside the bag to create a small seam. Stitch the hole shut and backstitch to make it’s secure.

Ready for an easy DIY project that you can use anytime you are cold or sore? Of course you are! This post is all about how to make microwaveable heat packs. You won't believe how much you love them!

Step Five

Heat and enjoy your microwaveable heat pack! I love mine.My rectangular one takes 3-4 minutes to heat in the microwave. The time will vary depending on the size of your heat pad and your microwave.

Let me know how you made yours.

134 thoughts on “How To Make Microwaveable Heat Packs”

  1. I added some ties to the ends and tie my heat pack to help with low back pain. It’s the best I love it,use it almost daily.

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  2. Sone more question, what is written on the blue tags? I’d like to give these as gifts, any special instructions I should iclude?

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      • I have always used rice and it never cooked the rice, you can use these for months without changing the rice. I also put a few drops of lavender for some calming aromatherapy.

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      • You really should use regular rice. Not the pre cooked or minute rice. If you used that that could be the problem. You also don’t want to get them wet.

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      • I suffer chronic migraine headaches and have used rice bags for years in the microwave. You have to use long grain rice, that you cook, not instant or minute rice. You cannot put water in the microwave or have any excess moisture in the microwave, otherwise your rice will cook. The smell is just the rice getting hot, but unless it is getting soft, it isn’t really cooking.

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  3. The best heat packs I’ve ever used were filled with cherry pits. I’ve used them for a years. They aren’t affected by the heat of the microwave and actually give off a somewhat moist heat. Periodic gentle handwashing the packs, in their linen slipcovers, seems to recharge the moisture.

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  4. You can also use bulk bird seed. I use millet or flax seed I buy at a Feed Supply store. If you go to a co-op you can buy lavender flowers in the bulk section and mix those in for a better scent or crush up some cinnamon sticks and mix those in.

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    • I made a microwave bowl for a lady and she burnt a hole in it. She could no trembler how long to leave it in oven.
      Do you have any idea is a safe time limit?

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      • I usually heat it for about 3-4 minutes!If it’s not warm yet then put it back in in 30 second to 1 minute intervals so you don’t over heat it!

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  5. I use rice and a couple of drops of essential oils. If you don’t get the bag wet, the rice won’t cook. I also make a second pouch, leaving it open on one end, to slip the bag into. That way you can wash the outer bag. (I learned the hard way — I gave one (without a pouch) to a friend who put the bag over her eyes while she laid down to get rid of a headache. When she got up, she realized her eye makeup was on the bag so she tried to wash it. Whoops.)

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    • I made the rice pouch, then a “sleeve” pouch…after heating the rice i wrapped the rice pouch in a dryer sheet and slipped it into the sleeve. it was wonderful and you get 2 or 3 uses out of the dryer sheet.

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  6. I have one that I purchased from a friend and before I microwave it I add about 10 drops of blended jasmine aromatherapy oil on it. Jasmine is good for relaxation. Be sure to buy the already blended oil. I’ve had mine now for 5 years and it’s still going strong. I have a long rectangular one that is divided verticall into 3 parts so it’s lovely to use around your neck, along your spine when lysong down as well as around your hips back or front either for lower back pain or even those nasty period cramps.
    I think I’m going to make me a few pretty ones over the holidays
    And then also as Christmas gifts. My repeatable been bag has been a lifesaver during many migrains and I’ve always felt I need more than one.
    Great turorial

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  7. Have always wanted to make heat packs, yet didn’t know how.
    Will definitely be making a few.
    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

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  8. Thank you so much for the great tutorial. I also appreciate all the suggestions that I’m reading in the comments especially about using the outer bag.

    Someone asked what the card says. I didn’t see response but I also am interested in knowing. Thank you so much

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  9. I’m just wondering about the safety of heating these in the microwave…..I have shop bought ones which have been tested but have often thought about making my own to get a perfect shape, but worried about starting a fire x

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  10. Thank you for your tutorial. One tip, I always make the actual head pad out of calico cotton, and then make a cover to enclose it. Use velco, snaps etc for the enclosure of the cover then you can remove the cover for washing.
    Make small square heat pads to pop in kids pockets for on the way to school.

    Ideas for heat pads are limitless, you just have to use your imagination.

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  11. Just remember to replace the filling grain or beans before they become tinder dry. .. Probably every year or two depending on how much you use them. I was warned by a fire brigade person that this fire starter can and has happened to the unwary.

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    • Elaine, you are absolutely correct! If you start with the wrong sides together you will end up with the “wrong” side out on the finished bag! I would hope that the author would read the comments and make the correction for those who are inexperienced with sewing.

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  12. I keep mine in the freezer for when I need a cold pack but then if I need a hot pack just take it out and microwave until warm.

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    • I was going to say the same thing. I actually store mine in the freezer. When you put it in the microwave and heat it you will end up with moist heat.

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  13. I too would like to know what the card says. I want to make these for my women’s ministry meeting in October and would love to add a little instruction card or something like that.

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  14. I use the cherry pits for a heat therapy pillow in my business. Here is a link to where to purchase the cherry pits.
    thecherrypitstore.com When I first open the bag of the pits, it gives off a really nice fragrance, almost like cherry wine. They will last for years and not go funky on you!

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  15. I make mine with calico and make a pretty bag from cotton to put it in. My sister has a chronic bad back so see uses them every day. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  16. I use wheat, wheat’s a good grain to use and reasonably priced. I also made extra covers so they can be taken off and washed after a few uses (my wheat packs have 2 covers). They’re better than hot water bottles, when they lose their heat they’re not uncomfortable like hot water bottles are. Wheat packs are so good to snuggle up to on cold winter nights as well as for aches and pains in the body.

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  17. I was making these on a regular basis for friends and family using field corn or rice. Problem is if they are not kept in the freezer when not in use they will attract bugs.

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  18. I’ve made many of these heat packs in different sizes and shapes – horse-shoe shape for the neck, wide long ones with longer ties for the back and little, narrow ones for the sinuses etc.
    I use 100% cotton cover, fill to a floppy consistency with flax seeds and make an external, removable cover for hygiene. Never smells and feels sooo wonderful

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  19. I love the rice bags and have made them for years. For a nice smell, I open a few tea bags and add the tea to the rice… When it heats, it smells great! My favorites are Sleepy Time and any herbal Mint tea…

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  20. Some great comments here. For a quick solution, grap an old sock( you know the ones that the washing machine ate their mate) and fill with rice and tie a knot in it. Men’s socks work best. Also works wonderfully for a new puppy or kitten to keep them warm and something for them to cuddle up to in their new house. Even better if it has the smell of mum or siblings on it.
    Wheat or rice with a few drops of lavender works wonders with a headache.

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  21. Made a narrow long heat bag 10 yrs ago, using organic wheat, corduroy material. Length from neck to sacro joint. Use regularly to wrap round neck, knee, shoulder or lay on it. The rice never smells cooked. Heat on high in microwave approx 2 1/2 minutes but NEVER LEAVE alone.

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  22. I love these , I’ve made several myself using the lavender I grow in my yard and I’ve filld them with rice . There is a trick to keeping these lovely things during the warmer months . I keep mine in clip lock bags in airtight plastic containers . Otherwise the mice find them irresistible . I’ve lost a few to mice in one hit .

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  23. I made this type of heating pad in 1990 but used whole Buckwheat instead of rice which was purchased at a grainery.

    The time needed to microwave depends upon the size of the filled bag. A very small pad, such as for hand warmers, may only need 1 minute….but the smaller sizes do not hold their heat as long. The regular size….8″ X 10″ was 2 to 3 minutes depending on the strength of the microwave. That size maintained a nice heat for 20-40 minutes. If tossed under the covers of the bed, it seemed to stay warm most of the night. Made a huge one that was wonderful but ended up heavy….heated it longer but it stayed warm a very very long time.

    ALWAYS posted a warning about leaving an overheated pad on oneself or using it on infants or anybody unable to move it away. If it is too hot and feels uncomfortable, it can cause burns. For the neck pads, used a “C” shape ….worked nicely around the neck.

    Summertime, we kept 1 or 2 in the freezer for those hot afternoons or impossible to sleep nights.

    Buckwheat lasted over 10 years….but not 20. It could depend up how it is stored.

    The grains were inside a white bag that looked like a small pillow and was sewn shut. Used flannel as a “pillow case” which was washable.

    The cherry pits sound marvelous!!!! Can imagine the smell. Someone said coffee beans….yummmm! Great ideas!

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  24. I bought one made with flax and I love it’s ability to mold around area to be applied however it is expensive. I found that as the bag ages it needs less heat. It also was scented with lavender for relaxation. Before this one I got a homemade rice bag and loved it too. It was not scented and still smells like rice cooking but I’ve learned to overlook it because of the relief it brings. I’m always afraid of adding scented oils but I guess I just need to add less and then more. My rice bag is over 20 yrs old and my flax one is at least 15. The filling is definitely getting smaller because of regular use. Time to make new ones. I’ve wondered about fabrics. Should I stay away from flannel or chenille because of the burn factor ? I like mine very warm, hot even, to last 20 min of use time. Have you ever used flannel or chenille? Thank you for your time.

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    • Spend the extra and get flax seeds. Each seed holds oil, which heats better. With the other fillers mentioned, you will get mold before long and who wants to be inhaling that??? Just not healthy.

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  25. So I made one and it lasted for quite some time except for one issue… when the rice gets old it makes little worms apparently and they came out through a small hole in the cotton fabric…. how do I preserve whatever I place inside so this doesn’t happen??

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    • YOur rice came with the bugs, they hatched just as flour will sometimes do. Don’t buy that brand or from the same store. I would store in an air-tight container or ziplock bag.

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  26. Just read your instructions. Wouldn’t you put the “right” sides of the fabric together and sew around the edges, leaving an opening??

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    • Wrong side, meaning the inside of the bag is exposed as you sew so that when you turn it inside out the seam is inside and the “pretty side” is facing out.

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  27. For a cover I thought an envelope type would eliminate the necessity for snaps or Velcro. Also, pillowcase style could allow the pad to slip out. Looks like a Christmas gift kinda craft! ?

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  28. I purchased corn from the feed store (smells wonderful) and bought oven mitts from the Dollar Store. The hand shape of the mitt made a perfect size for head or back! It was a good project for me and my granddaughter, as she learned to whip stitch the opening.

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  29. I’m interested in making some of these with rice.. I’ve made one in the past & its huge & heavy.. Too much to use anywhere other than compression heat on the back.. I love the ideas of everyone’s comments.. The C’s, U’s etc… My question, what are some good measurements for each bag? Back, neck, arm, hands etc that you guys are going with in order for the bags to be usuable without needing a crain to lift them? Lol

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    • Coffee Beans???? Wouldn’t they smell divine? Has anyone used them? Someone asked earlier, but I didn’t see a response. Thank you!

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    • Sure you could. Just make sure that it’s not so old that it rips easily. Then it would fall apart after a few uses and you would have a grea big mess.

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  30. Which essential oils would you recommend to use for a special needs child who is tired and cranky by the end of the day? Something to lighten the mood a little. I’d love to hear from anyone who has ideas and/or experience with such.
    Thanks!

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  31. I used to have a “biscuit/muffin warmer” basket that came with one of these type items. You’d heat it up in the microwave and stick it in the basket with a square cloth over it, add the biscuits, dinner rolls or muffins, etc. and cover with the flaps. I bet these would work well for that too! Another gift idea!! Thanks for the tutorial.

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  32. I’ve been making mine for years using rice whole grain white and lavender buds. You can buy lavender buds at Walmart in a big bag or any hobby stire. I fill whatever amount of rice I’m going to use then add at least a cup of lavender for the larger sizes. I don’t use oils. When you heat the bag it will bring out the aroma and gently squeezing the bag all over will disberse the scent as well. When not in use I store them in a gallon zip lock bag and that helps maintain the scent for years. I love the relaxing feeling from the warm bag and the beautiful scent.

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  33. I also did not like the smell of the rice, but I have the nose of a dog and smells really bother me. I am currently trying dried beans i.e. Navy beans……not as much odor. BTW, the first of the post says you are using hair dryer to warm bed. Do NOT put it under the covers!!! I caught a bed on fire as a kid trying to warm my bed with a hair dryer. Vent gets blocked and over heats!! Luckily i screamed fire as curtains were just starting to burn and my dad got the fire put out!!!

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  34. has any one have the pattern to share my system will not let me download tour PDF
    DOWNLOAD VERY FRUSTRTED CANT GET ANY PATTERN

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  35. I made these for Christmas gifts for family several years ago. I went to the feed store and purchased a 50 lb bag of milo (seed) for about $12.00. Milo is a very small round seed that works very well in heat packs, and it is lighter than rice, wheat, corn or beans. I made each family member one out of green cotton to keep in the freezer, and one out of red cotton to heat in the microwave. I also used upholstery cotton so they would be extra durable. The size of my finished cozies are 11″ long by 4.5″ wide, with loop handles on each end. I knew my gift was a hit when I saw my youngest sister with her two heated cozies tied front and back from her belt loops to help with menstrual cramps! This is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

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    • Great idea, thanks! I think the one I purchased years ago at a craft fair was made with this, or possibly buckwheat and I was trying to figure out where to buy that in bulk.

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    • I’ve never had any issues with cotton. The only time that it got kind of weird is when essential oils were added and then it was put in the microwave too long.

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  36. In NZ we only use nonsprouting wheat (chook feed) and put a half glass of water when bag is in the microwave. Interesting to see the different types of usage.

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  37. Another use – put in the freezer to use as an instant ice pak. I always have one or 2 in my freezer to use on those bumps, scrapes and bruises, especially for kids. They are easy to hold on the injured area and work great. I use long cooking white or brown rice and make them out if flannel or lightweight fleece.

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  38. I use long socks fill with rice then yie off the end great for using on lower back and around my neck to keep sock cleaner I made a flannel cover for it that can be removed and washed

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  39. The idea is wonderful!! I used an old sock filled with very coarse sea salt for a warmer. I’ve been using this for years, but never warmed in microwave. I warmed the salt separately and then put in the sock and tied a knot to secure. This soothes the sinusitis pain very well. I’m not sure the salt will warm in the microwave, but I can try. I’ll collect some cherry pits for future, like this idea the most.

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  40. Many are asking about washing the bag. Just make a plain cotton container for the rice,etc.. then make some different outer sleeves with a draw string to hold in the rice bag. The outer sleeve can be taken off and washed . And please test at seconds intervals on how long to heat. Start at 30, it will depend on what size and contents are. You don’t want it to catch fire by overheating

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    • I’ve never tried that before… I don’t think the sand would heat up as well though. Maybe someone else here has tried it?

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  41. Your rice packs are adorable,looking up close though it looks like the fabric is thicker then just plain cotton.Did you use a quilted fabric?Or is there batting with the fabric?Love the look,more then just a thin piece of fabric.I look forward to your response ?

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