Natural heating pad, DIY Rice bags

Here in northern Indiana the past few days have been unbearably cold with temperatures as low as -18° with a wind chill of -45°.  I’m a cold weather person but this is a little to much…even for me.  We live in a drafty old house and one way we help fight off the chill is rice bags. My mom taught me to make these years ago and my family has never been without since. 

What are rice bags? They are simply cloth bags filled with rice. Yes, it’s that simple. Pop them in the microwave for 1-3 minutes and you have yourself a portable heating pad that will last about an hour. Super simple and cheap to make too.

These were life savers especially when my kids were little and it was cold out. They each had their own and before we left to go anywhere in the car they would heat up their rice bags and have some extra warmth on those especially cold days. Cold nights we slide them under the covers by our feet and before you know the bed is toasty warm. Sore muscles, aches, pains, and tension? Heat up a rice bag and let the warmth sink in. These are cheap and easy enough to make that everyone can have their own with no fighting over who’s turn it is. Bonus, you’re using very electricity to heat these up.

So now you’re thinking…OK already, just tell me how to make them! Well these can be as simple or as complicated as you want. Short on time or don’t like to sew? Fill a clean sock with rice (NOT instant rice!) about 2/3 of the way full, tie a knot in the end and… WALLAH! Instant rice bag!

Want to go fancier? Take any type of material from fancy cotton or flannel material to old t-shirts, sheets, or old towels and cut about a 8″ by 8″ square. If you want something longer for around the back of your neck than go 12″ by 6 “. Honestly size doesn’t matter. You can make these as small or as big as you like. Just remember it needs to be able to fit in the microwave.  Small 2″ by 2” bags also work great as pocket warmers.


Sew all the way around the fabric leaving a small opening to put the rice in. Flip your bag inside out so the seams are on the inside. Fill about 2/3 of the way with rice and sew the opening shut. That’s it. You’re done!

What? You want to go even fancier? OK, we can do that.  🙂  Let’s add some herbs. and/or oils. You can add a small amount of herbs to the bag or add some drops of your favorite essential oil. Here are some of my top choices:

Lavender, Chamomile, Mint are great for stress, insomnia and pain

Dried orange peel is my favorite for calming and relaxing children.

Peppermint, lemon grass, and rosemary help with stiffness and pain.

Cinnamon sticks and cloves muscle spasms and pain.

Honestly you can put whatever mixture of herbs and/or oils you want just remember that once you heat up the rice bags the smell will intensify! 

Until next time,