DIY Heat Pack

September 27, 2012 | DIY

I had a belly ache the other day and decided a heat pack would be the only rememdy… except we didn’t own one. Cue sad face.

So I went hunting for a DIY. There are stacks out there, but this one on The Johnston’s blog was what I referenced before I started. You can make so many versions of this once you know how – like not creating segments, adding different oils, or even adding herbs and tea. I decided to give the segmented pack a go, and added lemongrass oil because I had it here with me.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Cotton Fabric
– Matching thread
– Sewing machine
– Scissors
– Uncooked rice (I used 2.5 – 3 cups)
– Essential Oil (optional)

Step 1.
Cut your fabric into two strips about 16″ x 7″ (40 x 18cm). With right sides together, pin and sew 1.5 cm (5/8″) in from the edges, leaving a small gap of around 5 cm (2″) on one edge.

Step 2.
Trim corners, turn your bag right-side out and use a pencil to push out the corners from the inside. Iron.

Step 3. (optional)
Measure and mark out your bag into 4 equal sections along the length. You want to sew these dividing lines, but not right to the edge – leave around 2 – 2.5 cm (~1″) free on each end. Sew each line. I also then ran a top-stitch around the edge (quite close to the edge), but still leaving the gap open.

Step 4.
Pour your rice into a bowl and add a few drops of essential oil. Mix.

Step 5.
Using a funnel (if you don’t have one, make one from paper), gradually fill your bag with rice. If you decided to go for the sectioned bag, it will take a bit of work to feed the rice equally into each section.

Step 6.
Once your bag is as full as you’d like it, fold in the open edge of your hole and top stitch it closed.

Step 7.
Once you’re ready to use it, put the bag in the microwave for up to 2 minutes and enjoy! OR you can keep it in the freezer for a cold pack :)

*Note: Some blogs I read recommend putting a glass of water in the microwave with the heat pack to stop the rice burning. Also never leave the heat pack in the microwave unattended, and be very careful removing it from the microwave as it could be quite hot.



  1. love this diy as i’m about to have a baby and there’s a million pain associated with that! i only wish i had a microwave, because after a quick search it’s apparently a fire hazard to heat something like this up in the oven :(

  2. ffadmin

    Oh that’s a shame! I can imagine that when you’re pregnant you need to make life as comfortable as possible! But yeah, I wouldn’t recommend putting the pack into the oven unfortunately :(

  3. We used a rice sock during labor. I wish I had made this pretty thing instead!

  4. Beautiful DIY!

  5. Another great tutorial, thanks! In my youth, we had heat packs made of cherry pits. And we would put them in a little cavity (called cavette!) especially built for them in the tile heater.

  6. This is lovely! Normally heat packs are so boring, and what you really need is something pretty (and functional) to help take your mind away from the pain.

  7. I love this. I too love my heat/cold rice pack. Your DIY has inspired me to make another. The only thing I might change is to use a towel. The one I have now as made this way by a friend and the towel just makes it so cozy! Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Nooooo! Do not put a cup of water in with it! I make these for a living and rice cannot have water in with it! It becomes too moist and the rice starts cooking then moulding! If your worried about burning them stop it half way and wriggle the rice around and resume. No water! You usually do this with wheat bags but rice moulds too easy! I also instruct mine to be heated on a plate to keep it clean and away from moisture residue from food on the microwave bottom!
    Also, I do one side cotton one side corduroy so when it’s first out if the microwave you can use the corduroy side and as it cools use the cotton side to keep up the warmth!

    • ffadmin

      Ohh, thanks so much Lila! That’s great advice, I’ll be sure to mention it above too. I also love that you do one side corduroy, what a great idea!! :)

  9. Kerri

    Love this. I have a store bought version. The only thing I would add that I love about the store bought one is handles. Long ones so it’s easy to apply heat to your back or shoulder or tie together for a knee.

  10. PattyQ

    I have one made out of a sock monkey sock… I love it.. it wraps around your neck and feels so cozy…. my granddaughter wants to sleep with it every time she spends the night with us. Its also got lavender buds in it and smells heavenly!

  11. Judy G

    I have made these and love them. I also put handles on them to make it easy to get out of the microwave. For Christmas one year I gave them to my grandchildren with their names on them. They love them, use them most every night.

  12. […] there’s a definite chill in the air these days! Craft your own home-made heat pack to keep you […]

  13. These will make great home-made Christmas presents!

  14. Sarah D

    Love this! It would make a great Christmas, Mother’s Day or other holiday gift :)

  15. Love this! Great idea for Christmas presents. Can’t wait to try. Have one daughter pregnant and one runs alot….perfect!

  16. Kristin

    For Rachel, I read on another tutorial that you can boil a pot of water, cover it with the lid and then place the pack on the lid to get warm. You would just need to make sure to keep it out of the line of the steam release valve if there is one on the lid. You could also go the double boiler method and put a bowl over the boiling water and put the pack in that to absorb the heat. These obviously take longer to get it warmed up, but will work if you don’t have a microwave. Good luck!

  17. What is the best way to care for these? How long do they last? Can you keep putting them in the microwave every day no problem? Thanks for the tutorial!

    • ffadmin

      Hi Jessie,
      From what I’ve read, there are a few things you can do to care for these bags. Firstly – put them on a plate in the microwave when you heat them. Also many suggestions around the web are to put a glass of water in the microwave with the heat pack when heating (however a reader below has suggested not to do that). As far as I know it should last for a few years, and there shouldn’t be any problems heating it everyday (however, keep an eye on it while it’s in the microwave – never leave it unattended). Hope that helps!

  18. Thanks! I made them! You can see mine here:

  19. LMC

    Finally after years of use, my rice became too hot last night and began to burn (horrible smell). I just wanted to add that I heat mine (i have many) just as i am leaving the house on cold mornings to place in my lap in the car until the car heater becomes warm – – alternating my hands from the steering wheel to the hot pack! Also I go to bed with one each night in the winter….. you don’t wake up hot like you would if you fell asleep with an electric blanket left on too high.

  20. Joanne

    I have made many of these over the years, but use corn instead (“cow” corn from the grain store). They can last quite a long time.

  21. […] going to keep warm with a homemade rice pack made from recycled flannel PJs. This tutorial does a good job in showing how to divide up the bag […]

  22. Wanda

    I recently made these as a fundraiser and used corn. they are amazing for pain. I used corn from the feed store in mine and it works well. We raised a lot of money in the hours we had our table set out. (all for a cancer charity). I wish we would have put handles on them. That is a great idea! WE sectioned ours after it was put together, but only because we were in a hurry and forgot. Still it was easy to do with pins.
    I agree do not put water in the microwave with rice. You do not want moisture in the air with the rice. I do add a cup of water in the microwave of I am heating leftover bread. (but that’s another story.

  23. Gina

    Thanks for the tutorial, I did a quick search online and found a few results, but picked yours to follow as it and your whole website all looks soo lovely, and is now a favourite site :) just finished mine and about to heat it up for the first time!

  24. You can you flaxseed too. I made one filled with it, and it’s great.

  25. […] these things…worth having a microwave just for these… DIY Heating Pack – via pinterest These would make really nice gifts!  19 DIY Spa gifts – […]

  26. […] pattern I used for the DIY heat pack is from a great Australian craft blog called Fellow Fellow. It’s very easy to follow and has lots of lovely pictures like the one to the left. (On a side […]

  27. Jerica Hansen

    Can the essential oil be substituted for just regular dried lavender??

  28. Arlene

    Remember, very important, to use long cooking rice, never quick. It will burn and stink to high heavens. I,ve made these for everyone I know over the years and find the best fabric in the scrap bins at fabric stores, pay next to nothing and get the best bits. Soft Disney prints fot kid etc. Enjoy, easy, little pillow of comfort.

  29. Thank you for this tutorial! I am going to make one for my daughter – and have linked to you on my site –

    • ffadmin

      Thanks Theresa! Have fun making one for your daughter! :)

  30. Tamara

    I have made lots of these using flax seed. I had also heard about rice, but corn is new to me. Thanks for all the advice and suggestions in the comments.

  31. Mary Burry-Ndwiga

    I’m just wondering if I can use green coffee beans…. now, before everyone starts telling me how expensive it would be, I live in Kenya and we grow coffee so I spare a few kg. I have heard of people using cherry pits as well.

    • ffadmin

      Hi Mary! Wow, how cool that you’re from Kenya! We were only just there on holidays a month or so ago :) I honestly don’t know whether green coffee beans would work… Perhaps try microwaving a few on a plate to see what they do first? I’m sorry I can’t be of much help!

  32. Alex

    Thanks so much! I’ve made one and it’s a life saver during that time of month, and for muscle aches after sport! Lovely :D

  33. […] Heat Pack […]

  34. […] Full DIY Tutorial at  […]

  35. […] I followed the tutorial here: […]

  36. Juanita

    Awesome thank you for the inspiration! I it a cold and snowy day today, just got back from picking up all the tuned and waxed ski’s and snowboards and felt like I had a need for a heat bag. Have been saving a couple of old pairs of jeans to make them and voila! Cut the legs off sewed them and headed out to our bin and got some corn to fill them. A farmers wife must be frugal! Gonna put everyone’s name on them so there is no squabbling! Thanks again!

  37. Pam S

    Great site! When you sew the sections, you say stop about 1″ from the edge. Do these just stay open? Does the rice go from one section to the other? Not a big deal, just didn’t quite understand that step. I see you do a top stitch all around. So that step should be done, also?

    • ffadmin

      Hi Pam, yeah the sections just stay open to each other, so the rice goes between them. You could also close them off if you wanted. I top stitched, but it’s up to you if you want to or not… it was easier to close the hole that way ;) Good luck!

  38. […] are a number of various tutorials out there for heat packs. I used the one I found on fellow fellow as a starting […]

  39. katja

    Love it. Great tips in the comments! I had the problem with rice that only needeed 10min to cook, and they are done, in one minute microwave… i must find other rice and hope it stays dry. Love it for my muscles (i have a muscle desease, SMA).
    I m going to make a few as gifts!

  40. Pam S

    Thanks so much for the instructions…I’ve made 2 already, and we just love them. Better than paying $20-$30 at a craft show!

    Going to send one to my daughter in Australia minus the rice! too expensive! She can just get rice, fill it and sew the small opening. She will love it. This is what she missed from home (USA).

  41. Kendra

    This idea is absolutely adorable! I’m hoping I can find some cute fabric at home in preparation for making one of these for my sister for Christmas!

    I also have a question regarding the second border of stitching I saw in your first picture. I understand that I’m supposed to stitch around the edges of my fabric with the right sides together but it looks as though your finishes product has a second border around the outside? Is this correct? If so, is it for added security to make sure the rice doesn’t pop out or the bag doesn’t burst?

    Your reply is greatly appreciated!

    • ffadmin

      Hi Kendra – yes you’re right! I must have forgotten to mention it in the post – sorry! The extra row of stitching around the bag isn’t necessary at all, it was more because I’m terrible at hand-stitching the opening closed, so instead I stitched around the outside so that, at the end, I could just turn under the seam and stitch it closed using the machine (not having to do an invisible stitch). Does that make sense?? :)

  42. Ellie

    try using cherry pits. You will be able to wash them without the pits getting destroyed. Smells much better then rice or dried corn. Just put in microwave for about one and a half to two minutes. You can also put them in the freezer for a cold pack.

  43. shae

    Has anyone try using sand instead of rice?that’s what they use in physiotherapy.just a thought

  44. Kate Fouch

    I make these also but I make a slip cover for them that i can take off and wash. My husband likes to put them in bed on his feet. I also do not put any scent in them because of allergies and aversions to scents.

  45. hailey

    i love this!!! i live i michigan so its very cold im using this for trick-or-treating c: one question though, how long does it stay heated?

    • ffadmin

      Hi Hailey! I haven’t used mine for a little while (it’s mostly too hot in Singapore!) so I can’t be sure, but I’d say about 15-20 minutes :)

  46. BarbaraHowell

    I will make some of these today. Ill stuff them after a trip to the grocery store. I have one I bought at a Fall Festival years ago. I keep in the freezer in a plastic bag (to keep it clean) and pull it out for a cold compress or microwave it for moist heat.

  47. Terry

    These were introduced to me as ‘Rice Mamas’. We used a sock and put rice in it and microwaved it. Then used them to keep newborn orphaned kittens warm. When they cool down they don’t get cold like a water bottle would.

  48. Peggy Deaux

    I will be making pairs of these for Christmas gifts. One in a blue winter motif & one in a red hot pepper motif. That way the recipient will have one hot, one cold.

  49. Kay

    Wow thank you for a great tutorial. i made one tonight and filled it with wheat and lavendar drops. Smells fantastic and is currently on my sore shoulder. Thanks again.

  50. Julie

    I LOVE this diy!! I just made my very first heat pack using your instructions and it went really well!! I also LOVE the fabric you have here, did you happen to buy it online?? I WANT it!!! :) Thanks :)

    • ffadmin

      Hi Julie! So glad to hear you made one and it was a success! Unfortunately I’ve had that fabric for so long now that I can’t remember where I got it from.. I’m so sorry!

  51. Paula

    I don’t know why coffee beans wouldn’t work for the lady from Kenya. I have a warmer with “beans” in it which a friend gave to me. It works fine. I’ve had it for years. Warming those coffee beans would smell heavenly to a coffee lover too. Thanks for a tutorial so we have step by step. The comments have been outstanding.

  52. Jane Payton

    My stepmother made me & my husband, one of these using deer corn instead of rice, however she only divided it in half, so gravity was a problem. I carefully divided it into 4ths and sewed it up, now it works much better. She also made a cover for them that can be washed when needed. I keep mine in a ziplock bag in the freezer and my husband’s, also in a ziplock is in the cupboard to be used in the microwave (he likes ‘hot’ peppers so the fabric for his has peppers on it). Lol

    • ffadmin

      What a great idea having one in the freezer and one in the cupboard.. love it! Thanks so much for sharing, Jane :)