It’s cold outside but this easy to make heating pad or wheat bag will help keep you toasty warm. Wheat bags are so easy to make, and they’re a great DIY gift idea too. Find out how to make your very own wheat bag, or heating pad.

Wheat bags can be used for recovery from sports injury, to reduce inflammation in muscles and joints, or just for a warm, snuggly comforter for cold nights. They’re very lovely to have on hand if your unwell in the winter, and needing something to help relax stiff and sore muscles.

Wheat Bags (or Heating Pads) Make a Wonderful Gift

I reckon the best thing about making your own wheat bag or heating pad is making them for others.

They make such a lovely gift, relatively quick and inexpensive to make, and a genuine gift of wellbeing. You could make these for Christmas or birthday gifts. But you could also just give them as a get-well-soon gift for a friend who is ill, or healing from injury or surgery.

And because heating pads really are so easy to make. I suggest making a half dozen or so of them at the same time. It really won’t take you that much longer to make. Then you can keep a couple for yourself and gift the rest to friends and family members.

What is the Best Filling for a Wheat Bag or Heating Pad?

Make your own heatbag

I’ve made these in the past and used wheat (you must only ever use buckwheat in wheat bags) however after a bit of research it turns out there are all sorts of things you can use, like corn and barley, in your heating pads.

But probably rice is the best option of all as it is both inexpensive and easy to get hold of. Always use a white rice such as Jasmine rice.

Rice also has the added bonus of smelling a little more pleasant than the buckwheat. I put about a ¼ teaspoon of cloves in my handmade heating pads and it smells wonderful!

What Filling Should You Never Use for a Wheat Bag and Heating Pads?

Although you can use other types of dried beans and pulses, there are some things not recommended to use in a wheat bag.

Dried beans, such as pinto beans and dried peas can be used. But they don’t hold the heat nearly as well as rice or buckwheat.

Oats, rolled oats and steel cut oats aren’t recommended. They don’t hold the heat well, and could be a burn risk.

Flaxseeds, linseeds, grape seeds and the like all contain volatile oils in them that are likely to go rancid if they’re repeatedly heated and cooled. Definitely not recommended.

What is the best material to use for making a Heating Pad or Wheat Bag?

You really must use natural fibres to make your heating pad or wheat bag. And you must avoid synthetic fibres.

Your heating pad will go into the microwave many, many times, maybe even 100 times or more. And they can get quite hot when you heat them. So you definitely don’t want to be heating synthetic material at that sort of heat for any duration. They may well melt, and could be letting off some nasty toxic fumes as well.

Natural fibres include cotton, linen, hemp or wool. The materials should be pre-shrunk so that heating them won’t shrink them further.

Materials to avoid in your heating pad or wheat bag include polyester, polypropylene and other polyester blends.

Top Tips for Making Your Own Wheat Bag or Heating Pad

These cute rice heat pads, or wheat bags, are super easy to make, but there are a few things to be aware of first.

  • Make sure you use 100% cotton as it will be going in the microwave and obviously being heated, so synthetic P6260174materials can be dangerous.
  • Don’t be tempted to over-stuff the heat bag. For the size I made (18cm x 28cm) I used 3 and ½ cups of rice.
  • When heating your bag for the first time you’ll need to keep checking the temperature, as microwaves vary in heating time, and each wheat bag is different. Mine take around 2 minutes to warm. So I suggest you heat it for a minute, and then in 20 second increments until it’s nice and warm. Once you know the correct time for your heat bag then you’re good to go.
  • Always heat up your wheat bag with a cup of cold water in the microwave to prevent the rice or wheat from drying out too much. This is really important to prevent burning.
  • Always let your heat bag cool right down to cold before reheating it.
  • Never heat in the oven.
  • Never use heat bags to warm up beds, like a hot water bottle. There is a very real risk or spontaneous combustion!

Warning About Microwaving a Heating Pad or Wheat Bag

I realise some of the tips above sound a little cautionary, but heat bags have been known to catch fire in the microwave. And there’s been cases of them catching fire in people’s beds too!

The two most important things to remember when microwaving your heat pack are:

  1. Always warm up your heat pack with a cup of water in the microwave, and heat them in increments. So heat on high for 1 minute, stop and check, give your heating pad a shake, then heat in 30 second increments until warm. Sometimes if the rice is still warm, they can heat up very quickly.
  2. Always let your heat pack, or wheat bag cool down completely before reheating. You’ll find your heating pad is sooo snuggly (especially in the cooler months) that you’re tempted to just heat it right up again. But this can be really dangerous. So just wait a few more minutes for the rice to cool completely, before heating again in increments as above.

Please take these tips seriously. Wheat bags can get really, really hot if heated for too long, which could cause a nasty burn for a small child. And none of us want to see that happen.

If you’re looking for more safety advice, then check out the Product Safety website for tips on keeping safe around wheat bags.

How to Make a Wheat Bag (or Rice Heating Pad) – Sew Version

How to Make a Wheat Bag-Sewing Version

What you’ll need

100% cotton material (for example quilting print)

Rice (preferably white short grain like Jasmine or similar) or buckwheat

A funnel

Sewing machine

Ground cloves (optional)

What to do

  1. Cut out two pieces of material the same size. Mine were 18cm x 28cm but you can make them bigger or smaller.
  2. Place them right side together and sew around leaving a 3 to 4cm gap. I sewed round twice as the rice I was using was a fairly fine grain but this isn’t necessary if using short grain rice.
  3. Feed material through the gap so the right side of the fabric is now on the outside.
  4. Using the funnel, fill with rice and cloves if you are using them.
  5. Sew across the gap as neatly as possible as this seam will show.

Now just heat your wheat pack in the microwave in 1 minute bursts until heated. Always let cool completely before reheating.


How to Make a Wheat Bag (or Heating Pad) – No-sew Version

How to Make a Wheat Bag-No sew version

What you’ll need

A pair of 100% cotton or woollen socks

Wool or twine

Rice (approx. 1 – 2 cups)

Essential oil (optional)

What to do

  1. Pour half the rice into one of the socks. Add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil. Tie the wool or twine around the middle of that sock to keep the rice secure in that section.
  2. Pour the rest of the rice into the same sock, add a few more drops of essential oil, and tie off the sock opening. This creates two sections of rice that can’t escape.
  3. Use the second sock to cover the first one completely, and hide the wool ties.

And that’s it! Put in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and enjoy.

Have fun making your own rice heat pads or wheat bags!

These really would make a great ‘get well soon’ present for someone who has a cold – especially if you included some homemade lemonade cordial on the side!

Check out our Grown ups: health and wellbeing section for lots more expert advice. And for 100s more crafting ideas, check out our Creative arts and crafts section.

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NZ fire service doesn’t recommend adding water in the microwave. The water doesn’t have long enough to turn to steam so can’t aid in the moisturising of the wheat bag and the wheat bag requires longer in the microwave

Jarrod Rendle

Hi Teresa, thanks for the heads up. I wonder if their advice has changed then? This was actually based on Fire and Emergency’s advice! https://fireandemergency.nz/assets/Documents/Files/Heads-Up-017-Wheat-bags.pdf

Jodie Samson

looks great and easy to do

Jarrod Rendle

Super easy. We’ve been using our rice bag A LOT this winter!

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