THE RECIPE BOX - Homemade rice packs help relieve pain and are easy to make

THE RECIPE BOX - Homemade rice packs help relieve pain and are easy to make

LINCOLN – It’s rice pack time again. A few years back, I went on a spree and began making a hot/cold rice pack for each of my sons and their families.

It all came to pass as my sisters and I were walking through a mall one time during a cold snap and a vendor in one of those little center booths approached us with a nice hot pack all but forcing it on our shoulders.

It did feel extremely good but the price was seriously ridiculous. As my sisters and I often say – in fact over the years it has become a private joke – “I could make that!”

Well, the family joke is that every time we go to a craft fair, jewelry demonstration, or flower exposition we find ourselves saying the same thing referring to the cost, “Why that’s ridiculous, I could make that myself.”

Of course we do not usually put our money where our mouths are and we never did make that (fill in the blank) item.

That was until I saw the hot/cold packs. I did actually make them and that was quite sometime ago. Fast forward to my son’s recent knee flare-up and he asked if I had any rice packs left.

“No, in fact I don’t know who borrowed mine and I am all out,” I replied. Of course the “mom” in me kicked into gear and next thing I knew I was buying fabric, rice on sale and I still had some essential oil.

I chose a football pattern for Justin, a girl superhero pattern for my granddaughter, Hailee, and I am in the midst of assembling one for each family.

I liked the gray pattern with owls, there was the black skull fabric for my son Jeff, a flower power for my sister and so it goes. I’m already through the first 20-lb. bag of white rice and having fun doing it.

It’s easy to heat these up: just pop it into the microwave and heat in one-minute intervals until it feels hot enough to ease muscle aches.

Always be careful not to use on your body until testing the temperature with your wrist first.

Now you have a pack that can be used over and over, either hot or cold, to ease those sore aches and pains. I keep mine in a quart size reclosable bag in the freezer – always at the ready. My lower back issues are usually resolved better with cold treatment.

What is also nice about these is that they conform to the body so a knee or ankle gets relief easier than from a standard hard ice pack.

Though this “recipe” is certainly not edible it does go to show that “comfort” foods come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes it is OK to play with your food.

Hot/Cold Therapeutic Rice Pack


Sewing needle (sewing machine if you have one)




Fabric (a fat quarter works well)

Uncooked white rice

Lavender oil


1. You can make your rice packs however large or small you like. Leave at least a 1/4-inch seam allowance all the way around your shape. I prefer rectangles as they cover curvy body parts such as the knee or neck more easily.

2. Pin right sides together, wrong side facing out. The pouch gets turned inside-out after sewing.

3. Sew around three sides of the rectangle with a sewing machine, locking the stitches. You can hand stitch if you must, but sew enough times around so the rice won’t get out.

4. Leave one top end (the shorter side) open in order to fill with the rice. Now invert the cloth sack so the right side is outward.

5. Turn the edge (of open end) over and stitch to leave a nice finished edge. Flatten sack, then sew the bag lengthwise right down the center to create two “tubes.”

6. Next, I use a plastic pail filled with rice, and with an eye dropper, squeeze a few drops of some scented oil such as lavender or peppermint into the rice and mix together well.

7. Using a funnel, pour the scented rice into each of the two fabric tubes – filling them about 2/3 full. A rolled up paper plate makes a good funnel.

8. The last step is to take the open end and stitch it together completely closed. Now you have a pack that can be used hot or cold to ease those tired sore muscles. I keep mine in a reclosable bag in the freezer – always at the ready.