Rice Heat Therapy
Raw rice can be used to make homemade, reusable heating pads to relieve pain from muscle soreness, period cramps, knee pain and other problems. Rice bags are safer than electric heating pads because they lose their heat gradually, whereas electric heating pads can catch fire during use or cause a drop in blood pressure if used for too long. Rice bags can also be infused with herbal scents for aromatherapy.
Sewing Rice Bags
Rice bags are usually made from squares or rectangles of unbleached muslin, a beige-colored cotton cloth. Cut a piece twice the size of your intended rice bag, fold it over and sew around two and a half sides, leaving room to turn it right side out. Another option is to divide the rice bag into quarters, allowing for more even distribution of the rice. This is done by adding a small amount of rice to the bag (turned right side out), then sewing around it before filling another quarter. Regardless of whether you use chambers, don’t fill the rice bag more than half full with rice.
Cover your rice bag with a slipcover (or “pillowcase”) made from a colorful fabric. This serves to protect the rice bag from getting stained or dirty and to help it hold its heat. The best choice for covers is flannel, which is soft and comfortable on the skin. Use a Velcro closure, if desired, to hold the rice bag inside the cover.
Always use fabrics made from 100 percent cotton for your rice bag and cover. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester can be a fire hazard when heated in the microwave.
Make sure to use long grain white rice, not instant rice (which has been cooked and then dried) or brown rice (which goes rancid more quickly). Another option is feed corn (not cracked corn, which dries out too quickly). Because it is a larger grain, feed corn holds heat longer than rice.
To add a nice scent to your rice bag, mix a dry herb, such as lavender, or a few drops of essential oil, such as peppermint or tangerine, with the rice before adding it to the bag. However, essential oils can go rancid, lose their scent quickly or start fires. Be very careful when using them in the microwave.
Using Rice Bags
Heat rice bag in the microwave for one to three minutes, until it is warm but not overly hot. Rice bags can stay warm for over an hour. They can also be stored in the freezer for reusable cold packs, although they tend to warm up very quickly. Discard your rice bag if it gets wet or starts to smell moldy or rancid.