Rice Bags

As I write this post, it is -13 degrees outside with a wind chill of 32 degrees BELOW zero.  I am hunkered in and very grateful for a warm house and the ability to stay in it today.  A friend was here visiting my boys this weekend and was going back home to Ohio which is under the same deep freeze.  He told me his apartment heater can’t keep up when temperatures go below freezing much less below zero.  I reached in my basket of rice bags and sent one home with him with instructions on how to use it.

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Our rice bag basket – note the mateless toddler sock on top.

Probably about 15 years ago a little girl that was over at our house told me her mom gave her a rice bag when her tummy hurt.  She then proceeded to describe it to me and I MAY have made my first rice bag that very night, or at least very shortly thereafter.  It’s a very simple project.  Sew together two rectangles of COTTON fabric (Cotton doesn’t melt.)  Fill it about ¾ full of rice and stitch it shut.   Microwave this lovey for 2-5 minutes depending on its size.  Now, tuck it in your sheets, lay it on your lap, wrap it around your neck, use it wherever it’s needed.  A 7” x 10” bag heated for 4-5 minutes and tucked under blankets will hold heat for several hours.  It is incredibly comforting to sore tummies and sore muscles.  When you get those way over-tired chills that nothing short of a hot bath will get rid of, a warm rice bag will chase them away.  I’ve made them square, rectangular, long and snaky (great for necks) and in a pinch, I’ve even filled a cotton sock with rice and tied it shut.

Many years after I’d started making rice bags for my family, a friend introduced me to the DELUXE version.  A rice PAD filled with rice, but sewn in little squares and with cloves and allspice berries sprinkled in the rice.  I’m very possessive of my rice pad.  They are a little more difficult to make, but still not too hard.  A nice size is about 15” x 18”.

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Here are pictures of a two-faced rice pad I made for my Minecraft-loving great-nephew this past Christmas.

Here’s how to make a rice PAD :

Sew two pieces of fabric together around 3 sides.

Turn down ¼” of top (unstitched side) and stitch edge.

Turn bag right side out then sew columns about every 3 inches.

Put maybe ¾ cup of rice (with a few pieces of whole clove and whole allspice) down each tube.  Pack the rice as tightly as you can then pin across the top of the rice in each tube.  (Stray pieces of rice can break your sewing machine needles.)

Now make a line of stitching about ½” above the pins.

Repeat the process until you reach the top of your tubes.

I like to do a tight zig zag stitch across the top to finish the bag off

rice PAD construction

Other uses for your rice bag:

  • If you store your rice bags in your FREEZER, they make great COLD presses to use for injuries.  (Store them in a heavy Ziplock freezer bag so they don’t pick up freezer smells.)
  • We have used heated rice bags in our cooler to help keep hot dishes hot.  Works great!
  • I have been known to put a hot rice pad beneath platters of food on the table to keep the food warm.
  • Rice bags make great gifts!

Whether you make a rice bag, a rice pad or a rice sock, I hope you give this a try.  Let me know what you think.  Stay warm and cozy this winter.


4 thoughts on “Rice Bags

  1. The rice pad is big enough to lay across your lap, but it is only about an inch thick. (It cools off faster than the thicker rice bags.) I just fold it in quarters to put it in the microwave. Sometimes I will rearrange it in the middle of the microwave time so it can absorb heat more evenly, but I don’t know how necessary that really is.


  2. I was very grateful for the warm rice bag you shared w/me last Saturday. My thin blood (a mixed blessing) was so chilled. Your warm rice bag immediately warmed me up. Thanks for your wonderful hospitality. I really enjoyed myself!


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