DIY Rice Heat Packs
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If we’ve ever been in the same room together in the winter, you’ve heard me complain about being cold. I’m always cold in the winter and I. don’t. like. it. I really, really don’t like going to bed at night in the winter and sliding my feet down to the bottom of the freezing cold bed. All winter long, I find myself going to sleep with my legs crisscrossed and my feet tucked under my legs at the knees. How crazy is that?! Then I remembered reading about bed warmers in the “olden days.” A bed warmer was a pan on a stick. You’d put hot coals in the pan and slide it between the sheets to warm them up before you got into bed. Brilliant! I decided it was time to make some new fangled bed warmer DIY rice heat packs. And you know me, I had to turn it into an upcycled project.
Last year I found these slacks with fun, cheerful fabric at a thrift store. I used part of one leg to make an upcycled wine gift bag. I’ve been looking at these slacks for a year, wondering what would be the perfect project for them. So when my crazy brilliant idea to make rice heat packs came up, I knew that I wanted to use these red aloha fabric slacks. I read that you should use cotton fabric and thread in making heat packs since you heat them in the microwave. Fortunately, these slacks are 100% cotton.
How many times can you use a rice heating pad?
You can use these rice heat packs for:
- Muscle aches
- For back pain from surgery (this is one of my favorite practical tips for recovering from an appendectomy) and for recovering at home, too
- Menstrual cramps
- To warm bedsheets in the winter
- To warm cold feet or hands
DIY Rice Heat Packs
Confession time. I’m not a seamstress and I am a bit of an impatient crafter. You should probably plan and measure the size of your heat packs before you cut the fabric. Bu-uut I didn’t. I simply laid the bag of rice next to the pants leg and eyeballed my measurements. I wanted the heat packs smaller than the full bag of rice. I also eyeball allowed that I’d have to cut the angled part of the leg to square up my heat packs. So, if you want to craft like they did in the wild wild West, do what I did. But otherwise, plan and measure before you cut your fabric.
I sewed a 1/4 inch seam around the outside of the rectangle, leaving a 1 1/2 inch opening for turning the pack right-side out. I clipped the corners before I turned it.
You can make DIY Rice Heating Pads using $1 bandannas.
Once the bag was turned right-side out, I sewed a seam on the right side about 1/4 inch in from the edge, but still left the opening. I sewed the second seam to reinforce the edges and to keep any wayward grains of rice from working their way out of the heat pack. Then I filled the heat packs with rice. I started with the funnel, but found it got clogged up too easily so I used an index card as a homemade funnel. I simply filled the heat pack comfortably full. I needed enough wiggle room to be able to sew the opening closed, but other than that, it’s a personal preference how full you fill the pack.
I added a tag with instructions on how to use the DIY heat packs. Tip – Add a cup of water sitting next to the rice heat pack in the microwave to keep the rice and cotton from scorching.
I was able to get 7 microwaveable heat packs from this 1 pair of pants. But remember, I’d already used part of one pant leg for my wine gift bag. I think you could get 9-10 from an entire pair of pants.
I had so much fun making these floral DIY rice heat packs that I ran to my stash of clothes to repurpose (don’t tell me I’m the only one with a pile of clothes just waiting for a repurposed project!) and grabbed these cotton flannel pajama pants. The fabric is soft and I thought the pattern would work better for a guy.
The grey and white stripped flannel heat packs turned out just as charming as the floral ones.
Then because I can be a bit craft-crazed, I grabbed these bags that came with new sheets and pillowcases I’d just bought. They’re 100% cotton fabric and very soft.
They made smaller heat packs. I’m charmed by the simplicity of these white cotton heat packs. “Charming” appears to my thought when it comes to these heat packs.
I can’t wait to give these as gifts, but first I chose one for each bed in our house. No one will have to sleep with their legs all twisted up under them this winter in my house, thanks to these DIY rice heat packs. I lo-ove them!
More DIY Rice Heat Packs
DIY Rice Heating Pads from Bandannas
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.
I am also not a super fan of cold. I often have cold feet and cold hands and find that I cannot go to sleep until they are warm! This is an easy and frugal way to get warm and go to sleep! Great idea!
Thanks, Cynthia. I am so with you about needing warm hands and feet to be able to fall asleep.
I didn’t realize you made them from an old pair of pants. That makes them even better. All the more reason to pin. Thanks Susan.
I want to find 5 more of this same pair of pants, Darlene. I love the fabric and it makes me happy to recycle.
Next time, instead of a funnel, cut soda bottle in two (horizontally). The top, with the mouth of the bottle, works great as a funnel for larger things. For example, I use one for filling my bird feeders. Scoop the bird seed up with the bottom portion of the bottle and use the upper part as a funnel to pour it into the feeder.
How brilliant, Kaye, and it uses a recycled soda bottle! Thanks for the tip.
What a great idea. Did you think about adding some lavendar in with the rice. It make them soothing as well as warming.
What a great idea, Julie. I’m on the look out for some more pretty fabric, so I’ll add some lavender in the next ones I make.
Thank you for this gift of these ideas,I do small heat bag(rice bags) for the kids to use in there little gloves,school,ballgames,keep our little angels warm.you can make out of there old receivIng blankets,school colors,the teenagers really do like them at the ballgames.good luck, bless you..
Thanks for sharing your wonderful idea of making handwarmers, Linda. I’m excited to hit my thrift store and see what fabric I can find to appeal to the younger crowds.
You’re on familiar turf with my sister-in-law; she makes these rice packs too, but she infuses the rice with lavender or cinnamon oil, whichever one recipient chooses, and uses the packs for therapeutic purposes. “Ahh,” arthritis or aching muscles murmur. “Just what we need!”
I can see where adding scents would make these rice packs that much more special. Cinnamon sounds heavenly! Thanks for the tip, JJ.
This is a GREAT idea… love up-cycling!
Thanks, Cassandra. I love up-cycling, too (may even be a bit addicted to upcycling 🙂 )
I’ve made these for quite a few years, but I make a separate bag to hold the rice that way the outer bag can be washed if needed. I also have added dried herbs from my herb garden such as lavender, lemon basil, rosemary, cinnamon basil, or anything you might find soothing or refreshing to the bag of rice, the heating of the rice bag activates the scent of the herbs, you can research herbs to see which ones are relaxing etc and mix up your own concoctions! Just some more creative thoughts !!
I love the idea of making a separate bag for the rice so that the outer bag can be washed. Brilliant! Adding dried herbs is also a wonderful idea and great way to personalize each rice heat pack. Thanks for sharing your tried and true tips, Sheli.
Does it take a whole bag of rice for one, and can you also use these as ice packs?
It depends on how large you make the fabric bag, Dallas. I was able to get about 6 rice packs out of one bag of rice. I haven’t tried them as an ice pack, but that’s a good idea
If you keep the rice bag in the freezer then it is ready all the time. If you need a heat pack then just take it out of the freezer and microwave.
Shirley, that’s the perfect solution! Thanks for sharing.
I buy hand towels and cut them in half. Then proceed to make 2 rice bags.
That would make the perfect sized heat pack. Thanks for sharing your tip, Pat.
I LOVE your rice-filled heat packs! I also enjoyed your un-fussy directions; I, too, am an eyeballer! Quick and easy, fun crafts that turn out well are my kind of projects. Thanks!
Thanks so much, Nancy. Sometimes I don’t feel like a serious crafter, but to be honest, I’m just to busy to be fussy. 🙂 Enjoy!
This is such a great idea. My mother had one given to her years ago, and I’ve been trying to get a pattern for it ever since. I’m looking forward to seeing what else you may have in store for me to try.
So glad that you found my tutorial, Cindy. Have fun creating!
I love this idea , May I add It will last longer if you make a little removable cover for it that you can wash!Make different covers so you can change them . Something soft and cozy for a cover.
Making different covers that you can change out is a wonderful idea, Cathy! Off to whip a couple up now. 🙂
I make rice bags, i first make a liner dividing it into sections so the rice won’t end up in one place. Machine them closed. Then make the outside covering. You can make them any size you like, long ones are particularly useful for putting round the neck.
Love the sectioned idea, Gwendoline! I think I feel another tutorial coming on!! 🙂
These are the best to give as gifts. They are also useful for tooth aches, sprains and muscle aches.
Oooh, hadn’t thought of using them for a toothache! Great idea, Marie.
I would not want to put anything in the microwave that had spent time with my feet
That’s a great point, Margaret. 🙂 You could make an extra cover that you slip over the heat pack and wash between uses.
Thank you for sharing this upcycled craft. It’s an amazing, cheap way of making fantastic usable gifts. They look great. I’m going to invest in some packets of long grain rice and maybe some ESSENTIAL OILS … I can’t wait to get going.
Thank you, Lisa! The essential oils are a great idea. Enjoy your warm and great smelling heat packs. 🙂
I have purchased these in the past and the only problem that I had was that they did get dirty after a while, so I am planning to make them as guy gifts for Christmas (after I racked my brain for ideas for men. This seemed perfect and inexpensive, and who doesn’t need them for aches and pains. I will probably use velcro to close the covers, since I think that is the easiest. I am using upcycled clothing, but also, I have some cute cotton and flannel fabric that I can use.
The velcro closure is a great idea. I’ve seen people who have created a cover with velcro that can be removed for washing. Happy crafting, Cathy.