Nothing’s worse than sore muscles. Whether you strained yourself at the gym or pulled a muscle bringing in the groceries, those aches and pains seem to never go away. Lucky for you, there are some simple methods like using a heat pad that can provide instant relief!

Sure, you could go out and buy a hot pack from the store, but you might have all the tools you need to make one right at home! These DIY methods will save you money and provide you some entertainment in the process.

How to Make a DIY Heating Pad

Thesprucecrafts.com

Making your own heating pad is easy and can be done with items you probably already have laying around at home. All you need is some rice, a sock, and a couple minutes out of your day!

Here’s how to make a DIY heating pad:

  • Step One: Find a clean cotton sock to use as your heating pad’s cover.
  • Step Two: Pour plain white rice into the sock until it’s about 3⁄4 full.
  • Step Three: Add any heat-safe aromatics to the rice, such as dried lavender or eucalyptus.
  • Step Four: Tie a knot in the sock.
  • Step Five: Replace the rice whenever it starts to smell burnt.
  1. Step 1

    Find a large, clean sock to use as your heat pack. The sock must be made from 100% cotton, otherwise the fabric can melt in the microwave. Try to use a sock that is tightly woven so rice doesn’t fall through any holes.

  2. Step 2

    Using a funnel, fill the sock with plain white rice. Make sure you aren’t using instant rice, or it can cause your heat pack to get moldy.

  3. Step 3

    If aromatherapy is your thing, now’s the time to add some dried herbs like lavender or eucalyptus. Make sure any aromatics you use are heat-safe so they don’t melt or burn!

  4. Step 4

    Tie a strong knot at the opening of the sock. For good measure, consider adding a second knot. This will keep the rice contained so it doesn’t spill out when you use your heating pad.

  5. Step 5

    If you use your heating pad often, be sure to replace the rice every couple weeks. Eventually, the rice will burn after being put in the microwave too many times. If you don’t replace it, your heating pad will start to smell.

Once your heat pack is assembled, you can use it immediately. All you need to do is stick it in the microwave for about a minute, depending on your heat settings. Try starting with 15 to 30 second intervals to make sure the heat pack doesn’t get too hot or burnt!

Sometimes watching is easier than reading. Take a look at this video to see the process in action!

Safety Tip: Hot packs should never be used on infants or as a treatment for serious injuries. Always consult your physician to see if heat therapy is safe for you.

How Long Does a Rice Heating Pad Stay Hot?

Rice heat packs should stay warm for approximately 30 minutes. However, exact times will vary depending on your microwave and the size of your heat pack. If your heating pad starts to cool off and you want to use it again, you can put it back in the microwave for 15 second intervals until it warms back up.

How Do You Make a Homemade Heating Pad Without Rice?

If you don’t have rice, you can make a homemade heating pad by putting dried beans in a clean cotton sock. You can also place a wet washcloth in a microwave-safe freezer bag and heat it in the microwave. Simply wrap the pack in a towel and apply it to your sore muscles for 15 minutes!

If you’re old-fashioned and don’t have a microwave, you can also put a damp towel in the oven at 300°F. Only keep it in there for about 5 to 10 minutes depending on how thick your towel is! From there, you can carefully remove it from the oven, let it cool if it’s too hot, and put it to use!


Disclaimer: These methods should only be attempted by adults and require extreme care to prevent burns or injury.

Geekdad.com

Why Do Heating Pads Work?

Heating pads work because the warmth increases blood flow to your muscles. When your muscles are sore, it’s usually because there’s a buildup of lactic acid. This can happen if you overwork your body while exercising, doing household chores, or finishing up yardwork.

Applying heat to the affected area can increase the blood flow, which in turn reduces the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. Once the lactic acid starts to disappear, you’ll usually feel some relief!


Here’s how heating pads work:

Not all aches and pains can be remedied with heat therapy. It’s important to consult your physician to make sure you aren’t worsening a condition.

Chicago Tribune

How Long Should You Wear a Heating Pad?

According to Michigan Medicine, you should wear a heating pad for 15 to 20 minutes for back pain. Depending on the type of muscle strain or injury, you may want to consider alternating between hot and cold therapy. If you go that route, you should wait several hours in between.

As tempting as it might be to cuddle up in bed with your heating pad, you should avoid that at all costs. Falling asleep with an electric heating pad can be dangerous. Not only does it increase the amount of time the heating pad is in contact with your skin, but it’s also a fire hazard. Your best bet is to set an alarm for 15 minutes if you’re concerned about falling asleep while you’re using a heating pad!

Disclaimer: The information above is for entertainment/educational purposes only. It is not official medical advice, and you should contact your doctor for specific tips on how to relieve your pain. Quality Logo Products® is not a medical provider.

Amazon.com

Are There Battery-Operated Heating Pads?

There are quite a few battery-operated heating pads on the market! They make great gifts for someone who is always on the go. There are several styles varying from one-time use all the way to cordless electric heating pads. The kind that you need depends on your lifestyle and how the heating pad will be used.

Most battery-operated heating pads are rechargeable and connect to a small power bank. Depending on the heat setting, rechargeable heating pads will stay charged for approximately two hours. Once the battery runs out of juice, you simply recharge the power bank and your heating pad will be ready to go for the next time you need it.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have a Heating Pad?

If you don’t have a heating pad, try taking a warm bath. The heat will promote blood flow to your sore muscles and increase your circulation. Plus, you’ll feel extra relaxed in the process!

Here are some things you could use if you don’t have a heating pad:

  • Icy Hot
  • Electric blanket
  • Warm washcloth
  • Hot water bottle
  • Sauna
Source: Amazon.com

Icy Hot

Icy Hot is a topical pain reliever that you can find at most drugstores. It’s helpful for providing relief for minor discomforts like aching joints. It works because the menthol causes your skin to feel cool and then warm, which can stimulate the nerves in your skin and temporarily block pain signals!

Source: Target.com

Electric Blankets

Electric blankets are very similar to electric heating pads, but they’re much larger! They are great for staying warm in the winter or for soothing aching muscles. If you’re in a pinch, you can fold up your electric blanket and place it on the area that hurts the most. Remember to never use an electric blanket while going to sleep or for longer than 15 minutes!

Warm Washcloth

Soaking a washcloth in warm water is a great way to provide short term relief for aches and pains. Simply wring out any extra water and apply it to your sore muscles! While you may have to warm it up more frequently than a heating pad, it gets the job done.

Hot Water Bottle

Hot water bottles are necessities that everyone should have in their medicine cabinet! You can fill them with warm water and the insulation will keep the water warm for a long period of time. You can also use hot water bottles to warm up your sheets in the winter!

Sauna

If you have access to a sauna, try spending some time in there to relieve your aches and pains. Saunas can help your body release toxins and offer relief for your sore muscles. However, note that experts say you shouldn’t spend time in a sauna for any longer than 20 minutes!

Note: You should consult your physician before using a sauna. They aren’t safe for all age groups and can worsen certain medical conditions. Quality Logo Products® is not a medical provider.

If you don’t have a heating pad, any of the above should get the job done! Of course, one size doesn’t fit all, and you should ask your doctor if these methods are safe for you. The last thing you want is to make your condition worse, so it’s best to ask someone who specializes in that area.

The Bottom Line

Heating pads can be expensive. By making one at home, you’re not only saving a bunch of money, but you’re also using your motor skills in the process. The result is fast relief, and of course, the pride of a job well done!

References

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How Does Heat Soothe Pain? (2014, October 4). Retrieved May 7, 2020, from
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Beurer Portable Wireless Heating Pad. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2020, from
https://www.overstock.com/Health-Beauty/Beurer-Portable-Wireless-Heating-Belt-Pad-with-Convenient-Storage-Bag-Rechargeable-Pain-Relief-HK67/30295823/product.html?AID=10668447

Murphy, L. (n.d.). Make This DIY Heating Pad for Aches and Cramps. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from
https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/diy-heating-pad-4688999

Denmead, K. (2020, January 22). Geek Daily Deals January 21, 2019: Sunbeam Heating Pad Back Wrap fo Just $26 Today! Retrieved May 13, 2020, from
https://geekdad.com/2020/01/geek-daily-deals-jan-21-heating-pad-2/

Corona, L. (2019, October 08). The best microwavable heating pad. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from
https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-wellness-the-best-microwavable-heating-pad-20191007-story.html

Beurer Portable, Wireless, Heating Belt Pad with Convenient Storage Bag, Rechargeable for Indoor and Outdoor Use, Pain Relief, Grey HK67. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2020, from
https://www.amazon.com/Beurer-Portable-Convenient-Rechargeable-HK67/dp/B074H484VH

3 ways to make a homemade heating pad. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2020, from
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323346

Use Heat or Ice to Relieve Low Back Pain. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2020, from
https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw47901

Icy Hot Extra Strength Pain Relieving Cream, Temporarily Relieves Minor Pain Associated with Arthritis, Simple Backache, Muscle Strains, Sprains, Bruises, and Cramps, 1.25 Oz. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2020, from
https://www.amazon.com/Icy-Hot-Relieving-Temporarily-Associated/dp/B005R1XDDI

Twin Electric Microplush with Sherpa Bed Blanket Charcoal Gray – Biddeford Blankets. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2020, from
https://www.target.com/p/electric-microplush-with-sherpa-blanket-twin-gray-biddeford/-/A-51074914

Spine. (2019, March 08). Is Icy Hot Effective At Relieving Back Pain? Retrieved May 14, 2020, from
https://www.brainspinesurgery.com/is-icy-hot-effective-at-relieving-back-pain/

How Much Time to Spend in a Sauna. (n.d.). Retrieved May 14, 2020, from
https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-in-a-sauna

About the author

Kelsey Skager

Kelsey is a master of promotional products with over five years of marketing and industry experience. She is proud to have been featured on ABC 7 Chicago News and NPR.