How To Make A Microwave Heating Bag

SuppliesInstead of using electric heat pads & blankets or hot water bottles for your aches and pains, these microwaveable packs are just the ticket!

They’re known by a few different terms such as: bed buddies, stress busters, rice or magic bags, corn cozies–but they’re basically all the same thing.

These serve a dual purpose as you can also keep them in the freezer to use has a cooling pad or freezer pack when needed.

If you’d like to learn how to make them, you’ll find a tutorial below along with tips for different kinds of fillers to try and directions for using them.

Introduction:

No pattern is necessary, simply cut two pieces of cloth in the size/shape you wish (leave a seam allowance about 1/2″). More detailed instructions are found below.

Some prefer regular square shapes, others prefer tubes or more rectangular shapes. Experiment, whip up a few different sizes and shapes to try.

These are really easy to whip up as well as cheap!

Filler Options

  • Uncooked rice
  • Wheat
  • Feed corn
  • Buckwheat hulls
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Beans
  • Flax seed
  • Cherry pits

You can also add the following to the above for a soothing, fragrant sack: Spices, herbs, essential oils.

  • Ideas: lavender, rose petals, ground cloves, nutmeg, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, peppermint oil, crushed mint
  • If using: Mix herbs, spices and essential oil with choice filler (such as rice) and let sit in a sealed container for a few days (occasionally stirring). This will help set and distribute the fragrance a bit.

Fabric Options

  • Cotton: (plain, prints, flannels, denims)
  • Alternate ideas: old socks (sew or knot end closed), washcloths, old towels

You can also make cozy, removable & washable outer pouches, this is especially nice to do when giving as gifts.

  • Fabric Ideas: use old towels, fleece, velour knits, pretty fabric prints and flannels (don’t microwave anything other than cotton fabrics). The softer & fluffier & better!

Instructions

  • Cut and sew the fabric in the size and shape you want (usually a large washcloth size works well).
  • Leave an inch or two open on one side so that you can fill pouch with your choice of filler (about 1/2 to 3/4 full, more or less as you prefer). You don’t want it too full though, the sack should be able to mold itself around your body when you apply it.
  • Once it’s full, sew opening closed either by hand or machine (keeping filler pushed to the opposite side of bag while sewing).

If wanting a removable cover, just sew a “pillowcase” idea with your soft, plushy fabric by making it a little larger than your pad and leaving an open end (make sure to finish off ends by sewing a hem). Or you can add a strip of velcro to close it. Careful: Make sure to never microwave this cover unless its content is full cotton. Remove cover to wash as needed.

Filler Suggestion For Headache Soothers

Rice (or other grain listed above) and a mix of:

  • Dried lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Betony
  • Rose petals
  • Cloves
  • Rosemary

Directions For Use

Heat for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on size. Do not leave unattended “just in case” the filler smokes or starts on fire. As a precaution, you can set a cup of water inside along with it to add moisture or spritz sack lightly with water first. If you add spices and herbs, this is a good idea to do.

If You’re In a Pinch:

  • If you need something “now” and don’t have time to sew one, try filling a ziploc freezer bag (use the microwaveable kind) 3/4 full with uncooked rice, seal shut. Zap it for a minute or two then wrap in a hand towel and use as needed.
  • You can also fill a clean tube sock, tie closed the open end, heat and use as needed.

Caution:

These are glorious to use for aches and pains, or just to pamper yourself after a long, hard day–but be careful before applying to body. Shake it first, feel around and check that it’s not too hot and won’t burn, especially when using on a child.

Related Posts

10 Homemade Playdough & 5 Fingerpaint Recipes Embarrassed By A Dirty Microwave? See How Easy It Cleans!

Comments

    • kelly
    Reply

    Hi i was just wondering if there are other things you can add like eucalyptus in these ? Does it have to be the oils or can you use the real thing???

    • ROBIN
    Reply

    I WORK IN THE HEALTH FIELD AND WANT TO MAKE SOME HOT PACKS FOR SOME CLIENTS, I NO TO USE 100%COTTON BUT NOONE HAS RELLY SAID ABOUT OATMEAL I WOULD LIKE TO USE OATMEAL ,SO ANYONE THAT HAS USED IT DOES IT HOLD ITS HEAT ? DOES IT SMELL BAD WHEN HEATED ? DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW LONG IT WILL LAST BEFORE YOU HAVE TO REFILL IT?

    • Sarah
    Reply

    Question! I hope someone still gets on here! Which filler do people usually prefer? And when using scents such as lavender, do I use oil or actual leaves?

      • Jolyne
      Reply

      Hi Sarah, filler preference is subjective. I have both a rice & a corn one. I LOVE the corn one because I really love the smell. Sometimes I heat it up just to smell up the room even if I don’t need a heat pad. My boyfriend, however, dislikes the smell & much prefers the rice one. There are many posts above explaining how to use the scents.

    • Amanda
    Reply

    I have used rice as well and have found it to be wet and the smell displeasing. I was given an herbal pack 11 years ago that is still WONDERFUL. I believe it is filled with whole and ground flax seeds and what smalles like chammomile… or tea??? but I am taking some of the contents to Whole Foods to be identified. It doesn’t get damp when heated and has never smelled foul. It has accidently been washed twice and was also thrown in the pool by my 3 year old who sleeps with it nightly- and it still smells wonderful and is in incredible shape… maybe flax seed is the way to go…

      • heather
      Reply

      Dear Amanda,

      Can you tell me what the contents of your bag was as identified by Whole Foods?
      I would really like to use this to make my own bag, it sounds so great.

      Thanks!

      Heather

      • Julia
      Reply

      Did you ever find out? Sounds like that filling is amazing!

    • Dee
    Reply

    The easiest and quickest way to make a Microheatbag is…fill a tube sock with rice,,tie the end and heat!

    • JenniferAnne
    Reply

    i noticed lots of people asking about the “DO NOT’S” but not many responces. i did try using the link to the saftey tips site posted above, but it was not working. i would REALLY like a list of the DO’S and DONT’S as i had planned on making several for christmas gifts. i have made one by putting rice into a sock and have had no problems other than a slight rice smell. i am looking to do something a little prettier for the gifts, ANY advice would be greatly appriciated or can someone point me in the dirrection of a working saftey page? Thank you very much!

      • Tipnut
      Reply

      Hi JenniferAnne, the link is working but it may take a moment to load. If it isn’t working for you, the site may just be down at the moment. I can’t copy the info from the page to here due to copyright laws. For anyone wondering what link we’re talking about, it’s on the web archive here.

      • Debbie
      Reply

      I use Flax seeds. They work better then rice and molds to the body much better then rice. By using Flax seed you don’t need to deal with the smell that you get by using the rice. I get the Flax seed at Trader Joes for $2.50 or so but the bag can make 2-3 bags depending on the size. The Flax seeds have no smell at all and you can add lavender oil or any other smells. I have mixed a couple of whole clove or even some herbal tea the the seed.If you want to keep the mice from getting to it you can add a couple drops of Tea Tree oil which also helps when you have a cold! To find a list of “DO NOTS” just go on-line to sites that sell them and I’m sure you will find a list. Hope this help!

        • Dina
        Reply

        Debbie – I made a bunch using the flax seed from Trader Joes and one of them caught fire. Ever have this problem? I purchased one over ten years ago and it still works fine. I’m afraid to make another with flax seed but really don’t like the feel of corn or rice.

    • Naomi
    Reply

    Growing up, we had a store bought Wheat Sack for over 20 years. Best thing ever. Now ive left home and going to make one with the Leg of an old pair of Jeans.
    The store bought one, is all natural and is made from, what i think, is Calamanco Fabric. The thick one with the lines in it?
    It held heat for up to an hour and even more when you and the Heat Sack is wrapped up in a Doona or towel to keep in the warmth. And in the whole 20yr i used to, it never attracted mice or anything. Never smelt when heated. And has never scorched or burnt even though i carelessly overheated it plenty of times when i was younger.

    I cant wait to make one!
    Also, i know that Priceline and other Cosmetic store have, over the years, sold a Lavendar scented Heat Teddy. Bought one as a gift about 5yrs ago and recently, saw the same thing in a store last month.

      • Naomi
      Reply

      Sorry, i think i mean Corduroy!

    • Dianne
    Reply

    Look people. Do not under any circumstances use a microwaved wet cloth, in a plastic bag, with a towel wrapped around it as a heating pad for anyone of any age. This can cause severe burns, especially in small children and elderly. I have seen this happen to many times. My CNA class instructor has instructed us not to do this and so has an RN of 30 years.

    • Jessica
    Reply

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My back pain is acting up, but my heating pad is looking rather scorched. I was originally looking for DIY instructions for a hot water bottle and could not find anything sustainable. You may have saved my sanity with this post. Thank you again!

    • Joy
    Reply

    I’ve been using three rice bags. One caught on fire last night. The microwave caught on fire and the entire garage stinks. Spritzing the bag with water sounds like an essential safety tip.

    • Misty
    Reply

    Would like to thanks everyone for their wonderful input…I have read each and every comment and found it all to be very helpful…although I am still uncertain on which filler I will end up going with but at least I can say I am less loss- as now I do know some of the what NOT to do methods now!

    • Leta
    Reply

    i have several bags of rice that I made out of pillow cases several years ago… channeled with long stitches and circles…filled with long grain rice. I love the bags hot and hot…and have seriously scorched them thru the years I have had them…but have not had a fire…not put water in the microwave…so love the rice because I have had a lot of success…and yes it can smell like cooked rice…but is that bad??? :}

    my massage therapist said she made them with flaxseed…so I started looking and found this discussion…all I can say is WOW…never knew there was so many options. Thank you guys for all the input…

    i would love to know if there is anything that holds the heat longer than rice…but I guess unless you tried putting everything in a ziploc bag and did a “scientific” test … it would be a guess if one holds heat better than another…

    • kenna
    Reply

    So… which hold the heat the longest?

    It’s for for a stray cat who won’t come inside the house(can’t have him anyway). But it has been freezing outside and I worry for him & others who I might make them for every night as well. So, length of heat retention is key here.
    And he would probably prefer something stinky… all animals do! Lol! Especially my dog… Gotta love that lightening fast roll they do so eagerly yet so lovinlgy into that invisible stink pile in the neighbors yard before you can even blink!… and always right after a bath too!

    Anyway, so which hold the heat the longest?

    Thank you all for the great info.

    Sincerely,
    If this plan work out, you can call me,
    The Toasty Kitty Bean Bag Hag…
    or something clever… but you can leave out the “stinky” part… Well, most of the time anyway.Lol!

    • Edith
    Reply

    i wanna make one because i have menstrual cramps
    but i dont know what type of fabric
    and How Long Does It Stay Warm?

    • Julie M
    Reply

    I made heating pads using a mixture of rice and fax seed. I put them in the freezer for 3 days then took out to heat. It has no other additives. When the pad is microwaved it smells like cooked rice. Herbs and spices are offensive so thus only the rice and flax seed. What should I have done differently?

    • Jenny
    Reply

    Janet I think I put 4 drops of peppermint in one bag and 6 drops of lemon is another bag.

    • anne
    Reply

    I made one tonight with dried great northern white beans and added 2 mint tea bags into a tube sock. It works wonders for my headache.

    • Janet Fairchild
    Reply

    how many drops of esstional oil do you put in with rice…and how do you do this

    • Jenny
    Reply

    Has anyone put herbs in these??? Do you just put the herbs in with the rice and let sit in a ziplock bag for a few days and then remove the herbs before putting in the cotton bag??? I am making these for christmas presents. I am using lavender and anise with a few drops of peppermint oil. Thanks

    • Tiffany
    Reply

    * This may help with keeping the smell out*
    I always put my heat bag in a microwave safe bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Keeps the good smell in and the smell of the pop corn I just popped out 😉
    My bag is filled with rice. I love it. Keeps my happy when pregnant.
    Also, sewing a few lines down a square shaped bag, starting and stoping an inch or two from the edges, helps keep the rice from falling all to one side.

    • Brandy
    Reply

    Megan—
    my mom makes them all the time and NEVER put them in a ziplock bag. She has one that is over a year old and it is fine.

    • Megan
    Reply

    I was considering making one of these for my grandma for Christmas and nearly everywhere I looked said to put the pouch holding the corn in a Ziploc freezer bag to keep it clean. I couldn’t help thinking that even with a pillow case the bag would be uncomfortable and if I were to make a fun shaped pillow (like say a horse) the freezer bags would be awkward.

    Are these bags necessarily required? If so is there another, more comfortable, option?

    • Gayle
    Reply

    I tried white beans lastnight about 15 minutes after finding this site. They held the heat for a long time but the smell made my hubby extremely sick to his tummy. I’m in need of finding something he can stand.

    • Kim
    Reply

    What kind of flax seed do I use golden or dark?

      • Bella
      Reply

      Flax seeds go rancid quickly.

    • Crystal
    Reply

    I have made these in the past using rice. I made a cover using a hand towel folded long ways like you would for display in thirds, I then sewed the ends and then in three places along the opening. Also in the ends of the towels I put a loop of cord as handles. I then made a cotton bag to fit inside filled with rice. These lasted a long time for all that I made them for and the towel was easy to remove and wash plus I could replace the rice bags easly when they wore out. I am thinking of making a diffrent type as the rice tends to fall to the ends or channeling the rice bags to prevent that issue. I have seen a square U shape heating pad in the mall that was channeled and layed flat but it was over 50 dollars!! I know I can make that much cheeper and so that is my next project.

    • Kami
    Reply

    Could anyone tell me if cotton-polyester thread or polyester thread will be okay for sewing the bags?

    • Rene
    Reply

    Just used a hospital tube sock, filled it with oatmeal, tied a knot at the end and heated it for a minute! Works great. I had a store bought one, then my dog got to it and tore it open!

    • Marie
    Reply

    I use hard wheat from the produce store in nsw australia. They told me to separate the big bag of hard wheat into smaller bags. Place in freezer for 2 weeks. This will kill any bugs.Use 100% cotton, heat for 1-2mins & check till you work out your microwave, heat maybe up to another minute. It is a good idea to spray with water and / or place cup with water in mircowave

    • Lainey
    Reply

    I make heat packs and fill them with the lupin seeds that grow locally here in Western Australia. Lupins are a legume that grows all over the world, the seeds are quite rounded, so they move freely inside the heat packs. I discard any seeds that are flat or discoloured. The heat seems to last for ages, great to warm the bed on those cold winter nights. I usually cover them with a polar fleece “pillowcase”, the actual heat pack is made with thick cotton calico. I also make channels in the pack, it stops the seeds from all rolling to one end and they seem to heat more evenly in the microwave. I also add some dry lavender flowers inside the pack for that lovely relaxing scent. Great for pain relief too.

      • Bec
      Reply

      Where do you buy the lupin seeds from? I really want to use them as my filler, we live in Perth.

    • Jenny
    Reply

    I have a problem with weevils eating and breading in my wheat and rice bags.
    Does anyone have a solution or alternative filling so I can avoid this problem?
    Your help would be appreciated.

      • Tracy
      Reply

      Maybe try storing them in Tupperware, i.e.: Modular Mates

      • app103
      Reply

      Store them in the freezer. (also store rice you plan on eating in the freezer and it won’t get buggy, either)

      • Sandy
      Reply

      My friend told me to put several bay leaves in with my wheat and rice to prevent that.

    • haley
    Reply

    these heating pads are awesome but you have to be careful about how much rice u put in cause if its to heavy it ciyld tear the fabric and its cool if u make handles to put on them

    • HRNamaste
    Reply

    I have an old one of these bags that I received as a gift a number of years ago. Recently it has been smelling really bad after heating it up so I have been looking for either a replacement or tips to make my own. After I read over the comments here I unstitched the bag I have and dumped out the contents. I found numerous types of beans (including coffee beans) – but despite the corn-type smell, there was no corn in my bag at all. After rummaging through my cupboard I found a bag of dried black beans, a bag of dried black-eyed peas and a half a bag of dried kidney beans. After smelling each bag for any type of odor I picked the black beans and the black-eyed peas, mixed them together with some dried lavender and put them in a glass microwave safe bowl for “testing”. After heating the contents in the microwave for 2 minutes, the beans were dry, warm and had no foul odor.

    After that I decided to test the kidney beans on their own because they had a slight smell. I put them in a separate glass bowl and again heated them in the microwave for 2 minutes. Totally different result! The beans came out wet/moist and they were stinky! I’m going to stick with the black beans and black-eyed peas and forget the kidney beans. I have posted this as a courtesy for those who are considering making these with kidney beans, but I think I would just test anything you were considering using in the microwave first just to see what it will smell like or if there is any water content before you use them in your heat pack.

      • theresa
      Reply

      thank you thank you thank you for your experiments. this is exactly answering my question. i too have pack of experimental “stuff”—now i can just cook and eat them.

    • Cam Jeanneret
    Reply

    2/25/2010

    This kind of heating pad for who does have a microwave.
    Use a thick fabric ( Canvas ) , sew a bag with many channel.
    Fill with SAND . Put in the pot of water and boil .
    Wrap with a towel when you use them.

    • Patricia
    Reply

    Could anyone tell me if I can safely put epsom salts inthe bag with long grain rice as a fill. I read mineral salts on one website but wasn’t sure if epsom salts is the same?

    • thoughtful
    Reply

    I have had a few of the pillows and have been reaserching ways to make them and ive read alot about the cherry pits but I began thinking about it and i was looking around (just simply glancing around)and i saw a bag of oranges… do any of you think it would be possible to make these with orange seeds???

    • megs
    Reply

    Hey I know it’s not relaxing but I have filled teddy bears with coffee beans for some of my friends(we are college students and can’t afford our heating bill) and they love them because they smell so good esp the hazelnut and french vanilla.

    • Sandaili
    Reply

    Lentils work but they get moist when you heat them in the microwave. Also they don’t seem to hold heat that long, about 20 minutes depending on how hot you make them. I think after a few times of heating they won’t be as wet…I didn’t put in a glass of water and the pad was very moist. These were dried lentils about a year old.

    • Amanda
    Reply

    I’m using old ripped denim jeans. I have about 5-6 pairs with odd holes and rips in them. They are unable to be patched and fixed so this is a great idea!! Also, I don’t own nor want to own a microwave. You can heat the packs in the oven if you wrap them in foil first and heat them on a lower temp, like 200-250 for about 15 minutes.

    • blair
    Reply

    would it be possible to use polyfil pellets for stuffing? I have an almost full bag and am looking for the perfect project to stuff.

    • nila
    Reply

    Can i use green lentils as a filler? i have 2 bags of lentils sealed bags but i think they are old. will it work?

    • Lynn
    Reply

    I have made these microwave bags with tube socks and I just tye them. I use extra long grain rice. I have never had any problems at all of any kind. I am very cold blooded and my husband doesn’t like electric blankets. I heat up either 2 socks for 4 minutes, 3 socks for 5 minutes, or 5 socks for 8 minutes. It depends on how cold it is. I put them in my bed about 5 minutes before I go to bed and it is so great. I put one where my feet are and line them up in the bed so every part of me gets warm. I can’t wait to go crawl in my bed on cold nights.

    • Sarah
    Reply

    What is the difference between the fillers? Is rice the best? I was wondering which one keeps heat the longest and which one smells the least

    • Barbara Toohey
    Reply

    My sister made some using some old whole coffee beans. I loved them. Great, providing you like coffee smell!

      • kity
      Reply

      don’t use coffee beans and if you do, don’t put them in the microwave too long cause they will burn!!!

    • renee
    Reply

    i just bought some feed corn for my bags, but it is obviously not all completely full pieces…do i need to separate them from the odd shells?

    thanks,

    • april
    Reply

    question – i have only read about using 100% cotton, but what about 100% wool? i was making a small pillow with hand-felted wool for a friend and thought of making it into a heating pad. does wool not microwave well? otherwise i could make the wool pillow into a casing for a heating pad insert. i appreciate any feedback. thanks!

      • Nana Teresa
      Reply

      I think if I were you I would use the wool as a cover rather than the actual heating pad since wool in itself is highly flamable. Or at least thats what I have heard anyway.
      Good Luck.
      Nana T.

        • Bennetto
        Reply

        I have to correct your comment about wool. Wool is not flammable. In fact if you hold a flame against it, the flame tends to deflect around the wool. If you do manage to get the wool to catch fire, it will self extinguish very quickly. That is why fire safety uniforms (eg fire fighters, racing car safety suits etc. ) are made of wool.

    • Angie
    Reply

    About the rice…I have heard you really need to make sure it is the long cooking (not minute rice) style of rice. This helps to prevent it cooking up if it is slightly moist in the microwave.

    • Candi
    Reply

    So I tried dry pinto beans with lavender essential oil last night. Beans still kind of give off an odor…darn it! The only other thing I can think of is birdseed. Anybody have any idea about a filler with no strange smell?

    Candi

      • Bella
      Reply

      My spouse and I were standing over a pile of grain on our guest bedroom’s closet floor. He said with a slightly agressive tone, “Mice!” to which I countered, “Yes, but they don’t come with their own grain they come for your, and I sure don’t store grain in the bedroom closet! After thinking for a minute, I remembered we had just moved into this house. The people who lived there before us had a bird. I was confounded that they could have missed their seeds, their movers miss their seeds, our movers miss their seed, and us miss their seeds, but there it was on the floor of our closet. After cleaning it up and searching around the closet to be sure it was all gone, we discovered a small hand-sized bean bag frog that had been given to us when we moved. Well, all I can say is that thing was ripped to shreds! Yep, that’s where the grain had come from. Thus I would caution, if filling these with enticing food products, storage in a mouse proof container is critical.

    • Candi
    Reply

    I have been making these for Christmas gifts and it’s soooo fun!

    I have made rice one’s and deer corn one’s so far. I’m looking for a filler with no odor now. I was thinking about dry beans but I don’t know if they hold heat as long. Has anyone tried the dry beans yet?

    Thanks!

    • Jackie
    Reply

    Hi I was at a craft show today and my daughter fell in love with a stuffed animal that was filled with this stuff and smelled of lavender and was warm. Only problem was they were $30. I thought well I could make it.But after reading all of this I am not sure what to put in it and all the stuffed animals I looked at said polyester fibers. Where do I find a Stuffed animal made of 100% cotton? I would love any ideas you have. I want to make one for both of my daughters for Christmas. Thanks in advance.
    Jaclynn

      • Laura
      Reply

      I bought bags of “stuffing cotton” a year ago from a quilting website. I don’t remember exactly which one, but you could google it and possibly find it. If you have any sewing skills at all, you could open up the animal and replace the fibers with cotton.

      • Dawn
      Reply

      I know that we have a “Mother and Baby source” store that offers stuffed animals made of 100% cotton. Maybe you could google that store and see if you could have it shipped to you. They are really cute and would feel great too.

      • Jolyne
      Reply

      You can purchase any stuffed animal, then open the seam down it’s back, pull out the stuffing in the body only, & replace the seam with a zipper. Then make a hot/cold pack like the ones discussed here. Your daughters can unzip their animal & heat (or freeze) the pack only, then zip it back in.

    • Cathy
    Reply

    I made these a few years ago as gifts and am planning on making them again this year, but want to use a different filler. In the past I used Feed Corn which worked very well, but it was a lot of work preparing the corn. I bought the feed corn at a farm implement store in a huge 50 lb bag. Brought it home, had to wash it (since this corn is fed to cattle it is not clean has a very grainy, dirty smell to it). After washing it I was told to bake it in oven on low heat for several hour. The corn filed bags worked great and all who received them loved them, but they do smell like popcorm when heated.

    I also tried rice as a filler adding essential oils. The smell was overwhelming. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I may have I added too much oil. I know I did not let it sit for several days like suggested above which may have been the problem. I didn’t care for how the rice heated as well as the corn.

    This time around I was hoping to make them out of a different filler that has “no smell” when heated and was hoping to find the answer on your website. Has anyone tried the dry beans? If so, what were the outcomes. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    PS: I made my outer casing out of brown polar fleece cut in the shape of gingerbread men. I tied a red ribbon around neck and attached the instructions. Very, very cute!!!

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