Heating Pad : Make one easily to treat pain

When the big tanker truck came and hit my car on a highway I was more concerned about the fact that we (me and my daughter) were alive. My heartbeats raced like it was going into a palpitation fit and I ignored the small tinkling I felt on my neck. But two days later the same tingling was all that was on my mind because it had developed into a pain.

I googled and found it is called a whiplash injury. One site suggested I try a heating/soothing pad on the injury. And the effect of that heating pad on the injury was nothing short of a miracle.

I suppose I did not have severe whiplash injury (Thank God for big mercies) which would have required extended professional care and much worry. The pain went away with regular use of the soothing pad used alternatively with heat and frozen. And now I am a convert.

heating pads

Who would find a use for heating pads/soothing pads?

The heating pad can be heated up or frozen and can be useful to reduce pain and discomfort in many instances. Arthritis, menstrual pain, after pregnancy comfort, leg cramps, back pain, muscle pain, spasms, stiffness, swelling, stress-related pains and headaches, for fighting cold nights; many reasons why you may need that soothing pad. For some one who has yanked a muscle this is a heaven send.

Anyone who uses the gel cold packs you buy from stores, could do with this pad. The gel packs are very effective but expensive and sometimes you want something nice and warm. The frozen packs lose their effectiveness fast but the hotness of the heating pad stays for longer. You can also add aromatherapy oils which can soothe you.

The first heating pad that I made consisted of an old sock filled with grains and heated. In fact, that would do very well for oneself. But if you want something pretty, this would not do. A pretty heating pad is the easiest gift you can make and when given to a person who needs it, he will be thankful for his entire life – it is that useful and effective to fight pain

Heat loosens the muscles and relieves pain but sometimes you may need a cold compress and heat may even cause damage For eg. you should not apply heat if you have redness in the area  or inflammation or damaged tissues. You can use the same heating pad for this purpose by freezing it in your freezer.

How do you use the heating pad?

The pad is kept in the microwave and heated for 2 minutes or so. If freezing, keep it inside the freezer for sometime wrapped inside a plastic bag or inside a ziplock bag. Use it on the sore/welling/ paining area – on top of a fabric, not directly especially if it is really hot/cold. Use it for some 10-15 minutes till the heat/cold is no more, with a few second intervals in between.

You can dab a little aromatherapy oil (diluted) / massage oil of your choice on the area and apply the pad till the heat gets cooled/ cold gets heated.

Any massage oil which contains magnesium oil works great for pains. You can also create your own massage oil with any of the following essential oils like eucalyptus, clove, cinnamon, rosemary, juniper, peppermint, ginger, cypress, wintergreen, black pepper, all supposed to be good for muscular pain relief because of their analgesic nature.

Remember that essential oils should never be applied directly on the skin without proper dilution. And some may be allergic to them.

What can you fill the heating pad with ?

Rice is the most common filling used inside the heating pads, though you can use Lentils, beans, corn, wheat , flax seeds, millet, barley– so many choices to fill the pad with. They all have a special smell when you heat them. Corn kernels will smell like popcorn, wheat will smell like bread, rice and flax seed do not have much smell, but beware rice will burn fast.

Corn kernels are big compared to other fillings so some may not like it because of its rough texture, but it can hold heat for a longer period than other fillings. Flax seeds are small enough and feel nice as they move inside but may get rancid inside the bag after sometime ( No experience as I do not use ; flaxseed is costly).

Additives to add inside the heating pad

You can add some potpourri or dried lavender, chamomile, bay leaves, lemon leaf etc to the filling to get a good smell from it. Or add a few drops of aromatherapy/essential oil. (Ensure that the oil added would not burn when heated)

Lavender oil is the most relaxing and calming oil. This Stress reliever can make you feel less pain. Its antifungal properties can also be good inside your bag. Lemon oil is great as it is stimulating, calming, and sleep-inducing. Orange oil is an antidepressant and has a sedative effect.

I have a small vial of orange oil I got from an apothecary which I decided to use. The smell of the oil is divine.

The way the oil is added makes a difference to its retention. Keep the filling in a plastic container with a lid or a ziplock bag. Pour 3-4 drops of oil into this and shake. Keep tightly closed overnight / 24 hours. Put this filling inside the heating pad cover.

When heated, the oil produces a nice aroma which is very soothing. 

How to make the heating pad

Making the heating pad is not much of a sewing instruction as such and some might even feel I am insulting their sewing intelligence. But for those who would like to know here it is

The filling will have a separate bag. You will be making another outer bag to pretty it up. Use cotton and never synthetic fabrics for both the bags. You can use cotton for the inner bag and cotton or flannel or even velour for the outer bag

I have made a rectangle shaped bag but you can make it any shape – triangular shape, neck pillow shape with a curve etc.

Cut out a piece of fabric  8 inches wide and 20 inches long. This will make a rectangle bag which fits the microwave just right but You can make a longer one by increasing the length or make it less wide by making the width 5 – 6 inches

Do not use synthetic thread – use only cotton thread.

Fold it by the middle, right sides together.

Stitch along the long sides and 3/4 of the short edge. Turn the bag rightside out.

heating pad

Fill the bag with the grains/beans. Fill only 1/2 to 3/4 of the bag. Take a hand sewing needle and thread and use invisible stitches (Posts on Invisible stitches ; the slip stitch) to sew the opening closed

Make a Cover for the original bag

Cut out a fabric 9 inch wide by 22 inch long.

I have used my fabric scraps to make a patchwork piece and did some embroidery. Embroidery will perk up the most boring heating pad. 

heating pad tutorial

For more flower embroidery designs check out this post.
Fold the fabric piece by the middle rightsides together inside as you did earlier 

heating soothing pad

Sew the long edges . Turn the bag right sides out

Put the bag with the grains inside this outer bag and now take the hand sewing needle and thread and stitch the opening shut.

heating pad

Carefully turn the edges to the inside and sew the opening shut the same way – with invisible stitches. If you find the bunching of the filling to one side inside annoying one remedy is to make a channel of stitching lines inside (stitch these after filling the bag partially till you make 2-3 channels)

How long does the heating pad last?

You can use them for as long as you want – so long as the moisture inside the grains are remaining. When you get a burnt smell from your heating pad you should take the filling out, empty it completely and refill it with fresh ones

Related read : Dangers of heating pads.

Related posts : Make a fabric mask; Make eye mask


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