How to Make a Heating Pad for Aches and Cramps

DIY Heating Pad

A blue sock filled with rice on a light wood background.
The Spruce / Lauren Murphy

Whether they’re from an injury, illness or just a long and tiring day, aches and pains are bound to happen. Feeling regular pain and discomfort is a huge burden and might even prevent you from doing things you love. But there’s hope! You may not be able to avoid them indefinitely, but you can find respite.

You can find relief from aches and pains by applying heat to the painful areas. Heat encourages blood flow, which supplies oxygen and molecules that help speed up the healing process. Plus, the warmth feels incredibly soothing on sore muscles.
Healing and relaxation is just a DIY craft away. Heating pads are, by far, the easiest way to apply heat to specific body parts. Store-bought versions often look drab, but with DIY you can create a simple heating pad that matches your own personal style.
Surprisingly, the secret ingredient is rice. This popular grain absorbs heat well when microwaved and because the grains are so small, allows the heating pad to twist and turn with ease, contorting to fit around whatever body part needs relief.
Here’s how to make your own DIY rice-filled heating pad. Microwave required!

Gather Materials

A bowl of rice, a red plastic funnel, a bottle of essential oil and a blue knit sock on a wood background.
The Spruce / Lauren Murphy


  • 1 large sock
  • 5 cups uncooked rice
  • Lavender essential oil (optional)


  • Funnel

Prepare and Fill the Sock

A funnel willed with rice grains inside a blue sock.
The Spruce / Lauren Murphy

Transporting the rice into a flimsy sock can be a difficult and sometimes frustrating process. That’s where the funnel comes in. Use a large funnel to easily guide the grains of rice into the sock. Fair warning—this is a slow process. Just keep slowly adding more and more rice until the sock is about three-quarters of the way full.
Make sure to use a sock without any metal threads in it that could ignite when microwaved. The best material to use is 100% cotton, which, thankfully, is an easy-to-find sock material.

Add Essential Oil

An open bottle of essential oil on a light wood background next to grains of rice and blue fabric.
The Spruce / Lauren Murphy

This step is totally optional, but encouraged!

Studies show that lavender may be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression and restlessness. It’s a soothing scent that encourages calm and peace of mind. If you’d like to add the soothing power of lavender to your heating pad, add a few drops (about 10) of lavender essential oil to the rice either before or after you funnel it into the sock. Not only will your heating pad smell amazing, it will help you relax.

Tie a Knot in the Sock

A sock filled with grains of rice and tied closed.
The Spruce / Lauren Murphy

Once you’ve filled the sock with rice to your liking, take the end and tie a secure knot. Start by wrapping the end of the sock around two of your fingers to make a loop. Then, pull it through the loop tightly. If you’ve ever tied a water balloon, use the same method. Then, cut off excess fabric with scissors.

Soothe Soreness

A DIY heating pad made from a sock on a light wood background next to grains of rice, a bottle of essential oil and a small candle.
The Spruce / Lauren Murphy

Microwave the finished product for about 1 minute (or less, depending on the strength of your microwave). It should be warm to the touch, but not hot. Then, apply it to areas with aches and pains and prepare for ultimate relaxation! Up the R & R factor by lighting a scented candle and turning on some soothing music.