Fresh Family Meals Made for Everyday Life

Tutorial: Hot/Cold Rice Packs

Project At-A-Glance
DIY, Sewing10 minutes
Solve lots of boo-boos with these hot/cold rice packs. You can make them in 10 minutes with just a few dollars worth of ingredients!

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In our house, we try to use natural remedies first for ailments before tapping into the more modern treatments that are available to us. It’s not that we shun Western medicine—not at all—it’s just that we’d rather try to figure out something a little more natural before we turn to more drastic measures. And while there are a lot of awesome home remedies out there, there is one that rises above them all in our house—the rice pack.

wrist rice pack

If you’ve never heard of a rice pack, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. A pack. With rice in it. Some folks do rice socks (just fill a clean sock with rice, and sew or tie it shut), but I actually like doing pretty little fabric pouches for my rice.

Why rice? Well, the rice is (a) affordable (b) malleable—meaning you can shape the pack around whatever body part is a-hurtin’ and (c) holds both heat and cold. You can stash your rice packs in the freezer, and they are cold. Or pop ‘em in the microwave for a few seconds, and—BAM—they’re suddenly transformed into a cozy, warm hot pack. I also, personally, find something really nice about the texture of the rice in fabric, too. It’s soothing (kinda like this scene from Amelie). You might find me just playing with these rice packs sometimes. Maybe.

rice packs

The rice packs work for an incredible number of ailments. Itchy bug bite? Put a rice pack on it. Sprained your ankle? Rice pack. Migraine? Rice pack. Eyes itchy from allergies? Rice pack. Stubbed your toe? Rice pack. Bee sting? Rice pack (after you put onion on it—there is a chemical in onions that helps slow down the immediate sting). Excruciating back pain during labor? Rice pack (or two).

rice packs

I made my rice packs into boring rectangles, but you could have some fun with these as make them in fun shapes, which I think would be especially awesome for kids. I’m new to this whole parenthood thing, but I’m assuming there are a lot of childhood boo-boos that could be helped with a star-, dinosaur- or puppy-shaped rice pack. You’d follow the same method listed below, just instead of cutting your pieces into squares or rectangles, cut two shaped pieces.

Alright, let me show you how to make some rice packs. For each rice pack, you’ll need:


  • 9” x 9” square of fabric
  • Funnel
  • Rice
  • Scissors, thread, sewing machine, iron, etc.

rick pack materials

First up, take your square of fabric, fold it in half, right-sides together, and iron it flat.

iron rice pack

Then, head to your sewing machine, and you want to sew all the way around the open edge, except you want to start about an inch and a half in from the fold. That gives you a little opening to turn the fabric right-side-out and to funnel in the rice.

sewing rice pack

Now, because these rice packs are mushed and squished and used pretty roughly, I like to reinforce the seams. There are a number of ways you can do this. You can zig-zag stitch in the seam allowance. You can use a serger. You can use pinking shears. I ended up using one of the overlock stitches on my machine.

overlock sewing

rice pack

Now, turn the pack inside out.

rice pack

And press to where it looks all nice and smooth.

rice pack iron

Then, place the funnel in the opening, and start pouring in the rice.

rice pack

Don’t fill these up too terribly tight. Like I said above, you want them to be able to mold around your body—you don’t want them to be so full of rice that they are rigid. I used about two pounds of rice for three rice packs.

rice pack

Go ahead and fold in the opening, and pin it shut.

rice pack

Thread a needle with some coordinating thread, and start stitching the seam opening closed. There are a few ways to do this. You could use a ladder stitch (which is what I did). You could also just use your sewing machine to close the entire end with a top-stitch (although, the more full your pack is with rice, the more difficult this will be). Whatever you do, I recommend actually going over it two or three times. This little seam will be the one “weak” spot in the pack. And you really want to reinforce it.

And then that’s it. You’re done!

rice packs

You could also do scented rice packs by tossing the rice with your favorite smelling essential oil before filling. A warm lavender-scented pack over the eyes would be a great way to help you get ready for bed. And scented rice packs make awesome gifts or stocking stuffers!

Do you have a go-to home remedy in your house?

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

49 Responses
    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Tracy! Yes, these can be heated in the oven or toaster oven. Of course, we recommend that you don’t walk away after putting it in there! Check it frequently to figure out how long it will take to get to the temperature you want. As long as you’re careful, it should be fine!

  1. Samantha

    I love this! I just wasted $10 at Walmart for a Hot/Cold pack and the junk thing blew up the first time I went to use it, Yes i followed the heating instructions.
    What do you recommend heating this Hot/Cold Pack at in the microwave?

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Samantha! We typically recommend heating it in 15 second intervals until you find the heat level that works for you. Hope this helps!

  2. Candi

    These look awesome! I’m having shoulder surgery soon and looking for ice pack ideas. Does it matter what kind of rice I use? Is instant/5 minute rice ok?

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Candi! Generally I would say it shouldn’t matter what kind of rice you use, but I’m wondering if the instant rice would break apart easier because of the way it’s processed. That’s the only think I can think of as a possible reason for not using it—all the handling of the rice packs might make the instant rice break up into smaller pieces.

      The main things you’re looking for are something that won’t spoil and something that will feel nice. Some folks even use split peas or lentils instead of rice! So I think as long as you’re okay with the possibility that the instant rice might break down a bit, it should be fine. If you try it, let us know how it goes!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Lauren! Yes, these can be heated in the toaster oven. Of course, we recommend that you don’t walk away after putting it in there! Check it frequently to figure out how long it will take to get to the temperature you want. As long as you’re careful, it should be fine!

  3. Lisa M Smith

    Awesome idea. I have so much rice in my house from the pantries lately. I think I will make some of these. I do have one question though. When putting it in the microwave, what would you recommend on how long to put in for?

    1. Cassie Johnston

      Not long at all—30-40 seconds will make it plenty hot enough. In fact, I’d recommend testing it in 10-second intervals until you know how long your own microwave takes to warm them up.

  4. Tina Wolf

    My daughter is making these for school. Every years the 4th grade has a business adventure project and the kiddos have to come up with business ideas. At the end they have a sale and sell there product to parents, family and school staff. My daughter came home and said this is what she wanted to do, so we will be spending the weekend making about 40 of these bags. Excited to spend quality time with my mini me. Thanks for the extra ideas these are amazing.

  5. I never considered wrapping some fabric around a rice pack and microwaving it. This would be perfect for all the back pain I’m currently in. I’ll have to remember to pick up some rice from the store soon.

    1. Julie @ Wholefully

      Quilting fabric is usually cotton, so that would definitely work. I suspect flannel would as well, but I’m not sure about fleece.

  6. Janice

    How long do you put them in the microwave? Sorry if you said it and I missed it. Thanks for sharing this. My girls and I will be making them!!!

    1. Cassie

      It depends on the power of your microwave—I’d start with 15 seconds, and then add an addition 15 seconds until it’s hot enough for you. 🙂

  7. Kay

    What a great ideas from everyone!
    Whole clove sounds really good, I do have question about why black peppers?
    how about cinnamon?

    I was thinking of making it and adding Peppermint or wintergreen Essential oils for gift for men who has a lot of pain. any thoughts?

    thinking of making few small ones to keep in the freezer for little ones bump head or nose in the gym at the church.

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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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