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Hot/Cold Compress

By: Samantha Palacio for Journey to "Green"

Relieve aches and pains with this hot/cold compress, a sewing tutorial from Samantha Palacio for hot rice bags that can also be chilled in the fridge. These make great gifts, especially during the winter.

Hot/Cold Compress


  • Small amount of fabric
  • Rice
  • Sewing supplies


  1. I cut out my fabric and sewed it into a mini pillowcase (it's about 8 inches long).
  2. I filled it with rice and stopped about 1.5 inches from the top for easy sewing.
  3. I pinned it together to sew to insure that the rice stayed in place.
  4. I also sewed the opening closed TWICE for extra hold.

Hot/Cold Compress

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I have made a number of these, and usually direct the user to microwave them for 30-60 seconds at first, then to suit their personal taste. Dry rice doesn't "steam", so it's not really an issue. I also put a few drops of essential oil in with the rice - but cinnamon or rosemary sticks work well also, and create an aromatherapy situation when you warm them. I've found the fabric should be a tight weave to keep the rice inside, but you can make a "case" for it to be washable. Flannel works really well and is soft on the skin...

This site is new for me but if I see as many things as useful as this hot/cold compress suggestion with instructions, and such a thoughtful and inexpensive gift to make, I will be on probably every day that I am able. Thank you.

I've made these before; try making then the size of your palm, they are great for keeping hands warm in cold weather outside.

I sew mne up and then sew around the outer side to reinforce it. Also, I make a pillow case to match, that can be removed. Then it can be washed. I keep it in the freezer; then if I need a cold pack for swelling, it's ready. If I need it heated for inflamation and sore muscles, like a sore back or neck, I throw it in the microwave for a few minutes; it depends on the power of your microwave.

moist heat is the best for aches and pains, I make mine out of corn bought in a feed mill.

have made loads of these over the years but purchased men's white tube socks to hold my rice ... double sewed and then made a cover for it so the cover could be washed

I have made these but I don't think I would use rice as the fllling. I think it might 'steam' or create moisture. I used flax seed which I purchased at a local 'milling' store. I purchased a tiny bottle of fragrant oil and put a few drops into the flax seed before I sewed it shut. I had Lavender for the ladies, Maple Syrup/Brown Sugar for the kids, and Magnificent for the gents. I suggested 1 to 2 minutes, no more, for the adults. One minute for the kids is usually enough.

When mentioning the minutes, I meant the HEATING TIME IN THE MICROWAVE. SORRY. Valerie

have made hundreds of these over the past 10 yrs or so and rice works great, never had a problem with steam

Rice bags are heated according to their size. One that fits in your hand is usually heated for about 15 seconds. Try heating small bags for 10 to 15 seconds at a time until they turn out to be the temperature you want them to be. Never heat one larger than hand size for more than a minute at a time until you find out how long it takes to get it to a comfortable temperature. Large ones, the size of your back for instance, could be heated for about 2 minutes or less at a time. Another thing to consider is the depth, or thickness, of the rice. Just use common sense and err on the side of caution.

I assume these are heated in microwave, but for how long and what temp/power?

my mom used to make these"magic bags" in all sorts of lengths and width which she gave as gifts. When I use them now, I still think of the love she sewed into every stitch and that and the heat gives me comfort!!!

my fauther in law has something like this but his goes on his shoulders that sounds ok but this sounds beter

Great idea, simple and easy to make. Can make any size you want, can afford to make multiple sizes . Just an all around good idea. Thanks for sharing!!!

I made one of these and family just loved them. They are easy and fun to make. I am going to make them for gifts from now on. Thanks


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