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How to Make a Heat Pad in a Trice

Updated on December 17, 2014
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I Made A Wheat Heat Pad Fast

How to make a cheap, easy heat pad at home yourself. Heat pads, or heat packs, are used to relieve pain when suffering from a variety of conditions such as arthritis, rheumatic pain, sciatica, bursitis, sore muscles and muscle spasm, sprains, daily stress.

Simple and effective, they come in many shapes and forms but all have the same quality - they are designed to retain gentle heat and sit comfortably on the body. Use them for back pain, earache, stomach ache and period pains as well as muscle spasms. They are also safe and comforting to take to bed to help you sleep.

One popular form of the heat pad is the grain heat pack. They can be filled with rice, rye or, as I did, wheat.

I made my emergency, and practically free heat pad from a cotton sock filled with wheat. If I'd thought more quickly I could have added lavender, rosemary or other scented and soothing herbs. It was so effective that I would like to pass the tip on to you.

So that's where are those lost socks go!

My socks hanging on the airer gave me the idea of making a cheap, qhick and easy heat pad
My socks hanging on the airer gave me the idea of making a cheap, qhick and easy heat pad | Source

How My Home made Heating Pad Came About

The story behind the sock!

This homemade heat pad came about through a moment of need. Well, they say that necessity is the mother of invention and in my case it certainly was.

My son got up one morning with a stiff and painful neck and I had to act fast. No time to go to the pharmacy or buy anything on line. He needed something to ease those painful muscles there and then.

After looking around for creams like 'Deep Heat' and finding none, I remembered a friend had bought a 'wheat heat pad' that she put into the microwave to warm, and then put onto her painful back. I'd done a similar thing to ease back pain or a sore stomach with a hotwater bottle in my youth.

I did have wheat and looking helplessly around the room, shouting for someone to "get me a little sack" or something, I spotted the washing hanging on the pulley to dry.

A sock! That was the answer.

I grabbed a cotton one, worrying that a nylon one might 'melt' in the microwave, filled it with grain, tied a knot in the top, popped it into the microwave for a few minutes, slapped it onto son's neck and wound a scarf around it to keep it in place.

My son went off to school suitably cherished and came back 'healed'. I think this was a good job done!

What you need to make a heat pad
What you need to make a heat pad | Source

What You Need to Make Your Heat Pad

I refined my prototype sock wheat heat pack a little

I refined the design a little by doing away with the knot and I sewed up the top of the sock instead.

  • Cotton sock
  • Wheat - rice, rye or other grains would also do as well
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Thimble (not shown in the photo because I couldn't find mine in time)

Put the heat pad around your stiff neck or whatever part of the body is aching
Put the heat pad around your stiff neck or whatever part of the body is aching | Source

Put Your Wheat Heat Pack Together

In other words fill your sock with wheat and and sew it up!

Loosely fill your sock with wheat. It should result in a sock that can be laid across the body and take up that shape; don't over-fill and make a sausage!

Sew up the sock, then, pop it into the microwave for a few minutes. Check every now and then to make sure it's not too hot. It should be just nice and warm. Place on the afflicted area and secure. As my son had a sore neck I wrapped a scarf around it.

Not very elegant but it worked. If you have time, you can always make more highly crated pads suited to a particular body area: for exaple a little sack with ties to tie around your waist for back pain or the sock could be sewn into a scarf for your neck.

How Heat Pads Work

(I asked a Doctor!)

Put at it's most simple: heat relaxes the muscles and removes the spasm. Heat pads and creams can be used for arthritis, rheumatic pain, sciatica, bursitis, sore muscles and muscle spasm, period pains,sprains and normal daily stress, but please read the warnings below. It can help lower back pain caused by strain which creates tension in the muscles, restricting proper circulation and resulting in pain.

How heat pads and creams work:

  • They relax the muscles and decrease stiffness increasing flexibility
  • They dilate the blood vessels of the muscles
  • This increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles
  • They stimulate the skin's sensory receptors which decreases the transmission of pain signals to the brain

A Word Of Warning

Heat Pads are Safe

No risk of scalding or burning

When I was young we had water bottles filled with near-boiling water to warm us up in bed, but you never knew if or when the bottle would burst.

I now use a hot brick, heated on the stove. Safer than a hot water bottle, but not very comfortable in bed and no good at all for draping around the neck or tucking into the small of the back.

Use this only for simple short-term relief for normal aches and pains. For chronic and long-term medical problems, always consult your doctor. Using heat pads, whether it's my sock or the commercial products listed below, can be detrimental to your condition.

Don't use heat creams and heat pads together as this might overheat the skin.

More Sophisticated Heat Packs

For those of you who want more than an old sock!

These Grain Heat Packs are Great for Kids - Cuddly and reassuring

Just what you need to soothe and comfort a child.

Aroma Home Hot Hugs, Lamb
Aroma Home Hot Hugs, Lamb

This hot hugs lamb toy has an insert which has been infused with lavender and chamomile pure essential oil to help soothe and calm. Heat it in a microwave to make it really cozy and warm.

 

Nugglebuddy Aromatherapy Rice Heat Pads

These pretty Nugglebuddy rice heat pads produce moist heat which soothes and relaxes. The raw grains of rice may seem dry but they do contain moisture in the form of water which is enhanced by the manufacturing process, according to the producer. To reduce the loss of moisture these bags should be cooled and stored in it's original packaging.

Use these heat packs to reduce pain, to warm yourself, (put your cold feet on your pad!), and take it to bed with you to snuggle up to.

Nugglebuddy pads can also be put into the refidgerator and used as a cold compress. This is true of many of these products, and the cold and warmth can be used effectively together. You can even get Nugglebuddy pads for pets.

Three Herb Microwavable Heat Packs - Wonderfully aromatic, sleep-inducing herbs

This heat pillow is stuffed with sweet hebs to soothe, relax and to help you sleep.

Do Heat Pads Work? - Have your tried them?

I'm a skeptical wee soul by nature and I'd like to find out what you all think about how well heat pads work. I think that they help me, but it could be just psychologically - which is enough I think, at least. What is your experience with using heat to relive pain in any shape or form?

(I've put a separate poll in for heat creams, see below)

Has a heat pad helped you?

See results

Heat Creams for Pain Relief - We had 'Deep Heat' cream in the house when I was young ...

... so you can see that this is a tried and tested remedy for musculature and other pain, but do heat creams work and how do they work?

These creams are rubbed onto the painful areas, and the massage itself could do some good. The creams often include menthol, Eucalyptus oil, Methyl Silicate and turpentine oil amongst other ingredients. The menthol is a natural anesthetic which numbs the skin. Eucalyptus oil stimulates the circulation causing the skin to warm up. Methyl Silicate both increases blood circulation and is an anesthetic. Turpentine oil is has natural healing properties.

Do they really work? Well, they do feel warm and people feel better.

Do Heat Creams Work? - Have you tried them?

Do you think that heat creams heal and reduce pain?

See results

© 2012 Barbara Walton

Leave a comment for me - I'd love to hear from you

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    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 3 years ago from France

      Thanks for dropping by, LluviaDeArte. It is a nice and comforting feeling to have a bit of heat where it hurts and I'm sure it does some good. While it's nice to have the sophisticated bought heat pads, if you're strapped for cash or need one urgently then the 'grab a sock and some grain' method is great. Let me know how yours works out.

    • LluviaDeArte profile image

      LluviaDeArte 3 years ago

      This is incredible. Even for beginning crafters and what a super useful item. This will also relieve cramps. I am making one tomorrow!Thank you for writing this!

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @TonyPayne: And so simple too, Poddys. I just love it when something works well, is simple and practically FREE. Many thanks for this little story.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I suffer with back pain sometimes, and my microwaveable pad really does make a difference when I am suffering. Actually when my wife was away on vacation in February and I was cold in bed as well as sore, I found that it really helped my backache as well as to keep the bed warm. They are really useful.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @Wendy L Henderson: They are very comforting and effective, aren't they. Very safe too - no chance of scalding or burning. Thanks Wendy.

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 5 years ago from PA

      We have a heat pad filled with rice. It works great. Just a minute or two in the microwave.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @Gayle Mclaughlin: Well, it's nice to have these pretty things, but if time or money are tight - give me the sock!

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @gottaloveit2: Neither would I. I'm not very good at ministering to the sick and tend to think you put up with minor ailments and they'll go away, but I was pushed into action and was really pleased with the outcome!

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @gottaloveit2: Neither would I. I'm not very good at ministering to the sick and tend to think you put up with minor ailments and they'll go away, but I was pushed into action and was really pleased with the outcome!

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 5 years ago from McLaughlin

      This is such a great idea! And it is even better because you made it out of necessity! Blessed!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I would never have thought of making my own heat pad.