Heat therapy is defined as the use of heat in therapy, funnily enough. You can use heat to treat aches and pains, and a lot of people have found them very effective. You’ll often hear of using heat to bring down fevers, reduce the pain of cramps, and soothing sore muscles.
The method of heat therapy can differ from person to person, as it all depends on what you prefer and find the easiest to work with. Heat bags are simple yet effective, however, others find that whirlpool baths, heated wraps, and hot water bottles are other great alternatives.
Today we’re focusing on heat packs, though, as they’re generally the cheapest option and are incredibly easy to make your own. You might even find that you have all of the necessary materials laying around your home already!
Being able to make your own heat therapy tools at home will be incredibly beneficial in case you ever desperately need one and don’t have the time or means to go out and buy one for yourself.
In this article, we’ll be outlining the necessary equipment and steps that you need to take to make your own rice bags for heat therapy. We’ll also look at the different types of heat therapy packs and what they’re most beneficial for.
What You’ll Need to Make Your Own Heat Therapy Bag
First things first, you can’t make a heat pack without certain materials. The great thing about making your own heat pack is that you can customize your materials to your own preferences and tastes, so that you don’t have to be left with a subpar store-bought option as it’s all that you could find.
Let’s take a look at the three essential materials that you need to create a heat pack. If you want to beautify your bag after you’ve created the basic version, make sure that you have plenty of glitter, glue, and extra material. But for now, the basics are as follows.
The outer casing is responsible for holding all of the filling. As the filling is often small and loose things, your fabric will need to be durable and thick enough to keep it all inside without hassle. You should also opt for a fabric that feels nice on your skin, so you can apply the heat directly onto the area that needs the heat therapy most.
The fabric casing shouldn’t be rough, irritating, or itchy. You can either buy a nice sheet of fabric for this, or you can get creative with items around your house. Just make sure that the fabric isn’t too thin that you burn yourself, but not too thick that you can hardly feel the heat.
It’s worth mentioning that cotton fabric is the best option for microwaving, so we would always advise you to opt for a 100% cotton fabric for the outer casing of your heat therapy pack. Luckily, cotton is not too expensive, can be found in almost every room of the house, and is super soft against your skin.
The filling of your heat pack is what’s going to retain the temperature and keep the heat therapy working for longer. You don’t want to opt for something that is going to immediately lose its heat so that the pack is rendered useless almost immediately.
Luckily, there are a number of different filling options that you can use for a heat pack, and all of them are also microwave friendly. The most commonly used filling is most likely rice, because it’s cheap, you can buy it in bulk, and it retains heat well.
Dried beans are also very popular, although they are larger than rice and therefore may not be able to mold to the curves of your body as well as rice. Flax seeds and other small alternatives can be used, as well as grains such as oatmeal.
If you have a large punnet of cherries kicking around in the back of your fridge, now might be a great time to get them out and start eating! Cherry pits can also be used for the filling of your heat packs, and you get the added advantage of a sweet tasty snack.
An Added Touch with Aromatherapy
There have been studies that prove the effectiveness of adding a few drops of oils onto a painful muscle, as well as dried herbs. If nothing else, the smell of the essential oils or herbs will relax you and therefore your muscles, which is likely to aid the healing process.
Take your favorite oil and add around 30 drops into your filling. Alternatively, take a cup of dried herbs and sprinkle them into the mix. If you’re feeling particularly achy or are in some desperate need of strong aromatherapy, use a mixture of both herbs and oils!
Black pepper oil is a great option for muscle aches and stimulating circulation. You can mix this with ginger essential oil to treat harsher pains such as arthritis. Lavender oil can be used to treat headaches and migraines, and yarrow is said to reduce inflammation in the joints.
How to Make Rice Bags for Heat Therapy
Homemade Rice Bag for Heat Therapy
Heat packs are very simple to make at home, so grab your materials and follow the steps below. You can use this rice bag to heat up in the microwave, or you could keep it in the freezer for some cold therapy as well.
The rice bag for heat therapy is so simple to make it should only take around one and a half hours to make. That’s less time for you to traipse around shops looking for a pre-made one, and we bet it will be less expensive if you have all the materials in your cupboards already.
The great thing about making your own rice bag is that you can create any shape and size that you’d like, so you can customize it for your pain. Using a store-bought alternative might be too small for the area that’s in pain, making it much less effective.
Before beginning this process, we’d suggest that you determine the size and shape that you want your rice bag to be so that you can be sure to have enough materials in.
- Cotton fabric of your choice
- A bag of rice, enough to fit into your desired shape and size of the heat pack
- Thread for sewing
- Essential oils or dried herbs (optional, but highly recommended)
- Scissors, preferably for fabric
- Sewing machine or needle for hand sewing
- Take enough rice to fit inside your heat pack and place it in a large bowl. If you’re not sure as to how much you’ll need, we’d suggest six cups. You don’t want to use too much and waste a lot of rice, so you can always make more if the original amount isn’t enough.
- Add the essential oils or dried herbs to your rice. Let this sit for at least ten minutes to ensure that the aromatherapy materials are distributed evenly throughout the rice. Essential oils will need to be completely dried before adding it into your bag, so this could take anywhere from an hour to complete.
- Fold your fabric and draw the design of your rice bag onto one side of the fabric. We’d recommend drawing on the inside of the fabric so that you cannot see the pen marks on the final product. Another thing to make sure is that your pen doesn’t show through to the other side of the fabric.
- Cut the shape out, leaving around half an inch of fabric outside your penned line to account for the seam.
- Take the two pieces of fabric and place them together with the sides that you want to be seen on the end product facing each other. Sew these together along your penned line, leaving a big enough opening to add your filling in later.
- Turn your bag inside out so that the sides of the fabric you want facing outwards are doing just that. You should now have an empty bag that looks just like you want the final product to look like, just without the filling.
- Once your filling is dry, add your rice into the outer casing. You shouldn’t fill it too much so that there is some room for the rice to move and adapt to the contours of your body. This will allow the heat to reach every part of your body that needs it most.
- Sew the bag closed thoroughly, ensuring that there are no gaps along the seam. Rice grains are small, so it won’t take much of a gap for pieces to begin leaking out of the bag.
- Your rice bag for heat therapy is made! Now you can heat the bag in the microwave for two minutes. Take it out and either leave it to cool or blast it for another couple of minutes so that you can reach the temperature that you need.
- Place the heated bag on the area of your body that needs the heat therapy. Feel the soothing effects almost immediately, and keep it there for as long as you need.
Different Uses for Heat Therapy Packs
Heat therapy packs are very beneficial for a number of different reasons, which is why they’re as widely used as they are. Now that you know how to make yourself one, there’s nothing stopping you from making one for yourself and everyone else in your family!
Before you order your dried rice in bulk, however, let’s discuss a few of the best ways for you to use your heat therapy pack.
When you think of a heat pack, what’s the first use that comes to mind? Warming yourself up during the colder months is likely to be high up on the list. Use your heat therapy pack to warm you up when you don’t want to hike up your energy bill too much.
Heat your rice bag up and place it at the bottom of your bed before you intend on going to sleep. Once you get under the covers, the heat bag will have radiated throughout the bed so that the sheets are no longer as cold as ice.
If you make your heat therapy packs small enough - perhaps you have made too much rice mixture and don’t want to waste it - you can fit them inside your gloves of socks for some makeshift hand and foot warmers.
Just don’t put them on the bottom of your feet! The last thing you need is to burst a bag and have to walk over oily rice for the rest of your day.
One of the most common uses for heat therapy packs is for treating pain. Simply place a preheated rice bag onto the muscle that seems to be hurting and leave it to work its magic. Heat can reduce tension and stiffness in your joints and muscles, making it easier and less painful to move them.
Heat can also increase the blood flow around the targeted muscle. This can also lessen the pain that you’re feeling, and this will help to keep the pain away even after you take the rice bag away.
Heat packs are so flexible that they can usually conform to any shape, making them excellent for any pain you may be feeling. Say that your neck was aching and your large heat pad couldn’t bend into the crevice where the majority of the pain was.
Don’t lose hope! A rice bag would be able to easily adjust to the contours of your neck to ensure that you feel the heat everywhere that you need it the most.
While heat packs won’t be able to cure you of every sickness under the sun, they can be very soothing and comforting while you’re feeling less than great. The use of certain essential oils, such as tea tree or peppermint, will open up the airways to ease congestion, and lavender will reduce the pain from the illness-induced headache.
A heat pack will also keep you warm and keep the shivers at bay. Alternatively, you can use the heat pack to reduce a fever after you’ve kept it in the freezer for a couple of hours. Even if the heat pack doesn’t directly help your ailment, the comfort and relaxation that it brings you may help you fight it off quicker.
Taking Care of Your Heated Rice Bag
Rice bags for heat therapy are not too high maintenance, so don’t worry about a list of daily tasks that you have to complete to keep the bag happy. Simply keep an eye out for signs of aging or wearing.
If you don’t notice a hole in your rice bag before using it, you may find that it’ll burst and you’ll be left with hot rice all over you and your house. As soon as you see even the threat of the seam coming undone, make sure to sew it back together.
Make sure that you don’t overheat your rice bag in the microwave. While unlikely, there have been times where rice bags have exploded in the microwave and caused a freight to the user.
You should heat your rice bag up for a couple of minutes, to begin with, and evaluate the temperature after this time. If it’s still too cool for your pain, heat it up again in one-minute intervals.
Remember, you’ll be keeping your rice bag on your sensitive skin, and the heat will get more intense as you keep the bag on the area for longer. You may not think that it’s particularly hot right now, but the longer you have it against your skin, the hotter it will feel. For this reason, you don’t want to go overboard with the microwaving.
We would advise against heating your rice bag up for any longer than four minutes. The last thing you want to do is burst your heat pad and burn the rice, so be mindful of the temperature.
Don’t wash the rice bag in a washing machine, even on a cold wash. This will affect the rice and potentially lessen the effects of your aromatherapy materials. If you want your rice bag to be washable, you should create another washable cover for the rice bag that can be removed any time you need to wash it.
We hope that you’ve learned something valuable about rice bags for heat therapy from our article. Heat therapy can be a very beneficial and inexpensive method of pain relief, so it pays to know how to make a simple rice bag heat pack.
Before you collect all of your materials to make the whole family their own rice bag to practice heat therapy with, remember that there are a few variations that you can make with each of your heat pads, such as the filling and aromatherapy options.
There are a number of amazing uses for rice bags, so what are you waiting for? Grab a bag of rice and get crafting! You won’t regret it, trust us.