Thermal Rice Heating Pad with Removable Cover Tutorial

Have you ever used a thermal rice bag? Basically, it is heating pad made of rice.

I love to use rice bags to warm up my feet in a cold bed and to soothe achy muscles. Just microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn and keep away from moisture. 

Thermal Heating Rice Bag

Rice bags can also be used for cold therapy. Just place the rice bag in a plastic bag to keep the moisture away and keep in the freezer over night.  

I have made hundreds of these rice bags because I used to sell them in boutiques and on Etsy. Since I am no longer doing that, I will share my trade secrets with you!

For the insert, I usually use the cheapest white rice. A good alternative is brown flax seed. It holds the heat about the same and feels a little smoother in the insert. For a little bit of aromatherapy, I put in about a tablespoon of dried lavender buds. 

To make a nice Thermal Rice Bag with Removable Cover, you will need:

1/4 yard flannel or cotton for the cover

1/4 yard cotton or muslin for the insert

2 inches of 3/4 inch wide sew-on velcro

5 cups of white rice

Fabric Cut for Rice Bag

For the Rice Bag Insert, cut two pieces of muslin or cotton that are 6 1/2 x 19 inches.

Place the fabric right sides together, and sew together three of the sides. Leave one of the short sides open. 

Making The Rice Bag Insert

Turn it right sides out. Split the insert into 3 sections by marking a line every 6 1/4 inches from the bottom. 

Making The Rice Bag Insert

Fill the bottom section with 1 1/3 cups of white rice. (My daughter really loves to help with this part.)

Making The Rice Bag Insert

Close the section by stitching along the drawn line.

Making The Rice Bag Insert

Repeat for each section. Close the top by folding the fabric down inside and stitching close to the fold.

For the cover, cut two pieces of flannel or cotton that are 7 1/2 x 22 inches. (or 7 1/2 inches x the width of the fabric)

Place the fabric right sides together, and sew together three of the sides. Leave one of the short sides open.

Making The Rice Bag Cover

Fold down the open section 1/4 inch, then fold it down again 1 1/2 inches. Press. 

Making The Rice Bag Cover

Stitch close to the first fold as shown in the picture. 

Making The Rice Bag Cover

Stitch on the velcro.

Making The Rice Bag Cover - Sewing on the Velcro

Making The Rice Bag Cover - Sewing on the Velcro

Making The Rice Bag Cover

Turn right side out and put the insert in the cover. 

Making a Thermal Rice Bag

Now you are all ready to enjoy some heat or cold therapy! This thermal bag is the perfect size for your back, shoulders, or stomach. 

These are great as gifts for friends or family, especially in the cold Winter months. 

Have fun quilting!


  • Hi Nancy!
    Yes, I have microwaved my bags with velcro closures many times and have never had a problem. Thanks for asking!

    Becky Smith
  • Is the Velcro closure on the outer sleeve safe in the microwave?

    Nancy Kuriki
  • Hi Crystal! Thanks for the comment!
    As long as the lavender is completely dried, it should be fine to heat. I have heated heating bags multiple times with dried lavender and it has worked just fine. I have never used essential oils. I have kind of strayed away from them because the rice needs to stay dry. So I am sorry I can’t help you with that. I would try putting a couple drops of essential oil in a bowl of dried flax seed and give it a couple times of heating up and cooling down to see what it does. Keep a close eye on it.
    Hope that helps!

    Becky Smith
  • Thanks for sharing your pattern. Just curious about the lavender being safe to heat. I just ordered a #12 bag of flax seed to make a couple to try. Also I’ve seen people soak the rice or flax in essential oils. I was wondering if that could be flammable as well?


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