Rice Bags

You may or may not have encountered wheat bags, fabric pouches filled with cleaned wheat grains that you can put in the microwave and warm up. They’re wonderful on cold nights and (providing you have a microwave of course), much less trouble than a hot water bottle. You can also put them in the freezer and use as cold packs for headaches and other pain.

What I didn’t realise was that you can also use uncooked rice as an alternative to the wheat. As rice is much more available than cleaned wheat grains, I thought I’d have a go at making one. After I finished, I felt the fabric was a bit thin and I also worried about stray grains of rice working their way through the seams, so I made a second bag and sewed the first one inside it. This allowed me to also make a more attractive seam at the top end. It looked really pretty and I’ll definitely be making more to give as gifts.

As these are homemade and not factory-tested, I’d recommend using them as cool bags. If you do choose to heat yours, please use with caution and follow the important safety tips below.

Rice bag

Finished rice bag

You will need:

Cotton fabric
Needle and thread
Uncooked rice
Scented oil (optional)

Step by Step

Measure out the size of your bag onto your fabric, twice, and add a 1 inch/2.5cm margin to all sides.

Pin the two pieces of fabric right side together, ready to sew. Remember to allow a tiny bit of extra space for the bulk of the rice.

Sew around the edges, leaving a 2 inch gap in the middle of the top seam.

Turn the bag right way out and use the funnel to fill the bag with rice. Don’t overfill it; the rice needs to have a little bit of room to move.

Hand sew the gap in the seam shut.

If you choose to make a second, outer bag, you can turn it into a removable cover by adding Velcro. Don’t use buttons; the bag won’t be as nice to cuddle if you do and they may melt if you choose to microwave it.

TIP: If you’d like to make a scented bag, add one or two drops of essential oil to the rice before filling the bag. Be warned, a little goes a long way!


  • When heating your bag for the first time, heat for 1 minute and test the temperature. Increase the time by 30 seconds until you find the optimum temperature for you.
  • We recommend not heating your bag for longer than 2 and 1/2 minutes. The smaller the bag, the less time it will need.
  • When heating, make sure your bag is the only thing in the microwave and is laid flat.
  • Only use natural fabrics. Cotton, fleece or flannel should be alright.


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One Response to “Rice Bags”

  1. Rabby 14 August 2013 at 5:37 am #

    Ah, I do love these! My mum bought several of the wheat-filled variety for all of us girls at a crafts show several years back and they have been a staple in all of our homes ever since. When heated they are particularly incredible for relieving menstrual cramps, which was our primary reason for wanting them!

    What’s lovely about them, too, is that my mum’s first bag, which she got from a different vendor eventually tore, so she too created a new bag for it. And this time, she made it thin and elongated so that she could put it around her neck when she had neck or shoulder pain! It’s lovely how the wheat lasts from one bag to the next, becoming recycled and ever-useful.

    If someone is leaning towards the wheat ones rather than the rice, I can say from experience that the gentle fragrance they emit when heated is lovely, like the calming scent of oatmeal!

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