Heating packs are a necessary tool for those who suffer from chronic pain or inflammation.
Rice heat packs are one of many different options to choose from in the world of heating pads.
Rice heat packs can go anywhere with you, unlike an electric heating pad that has to stay plugged into an outlet.
The disadvantage that comes with rice heat packs is that, like rice, they have a shelf life and will eventually spoil.
But, how long do they last?
How Long Do Rice Heat Packs Last?
Microwaving your heat pack for 3 ½ minutes can keep your rice heat pack warm for at least 30 minutes for soothing use.
In order to not burn the rice and cause the rice heat pack to smell, it is recommended that you flip your heat pack over every 30 seconds and check the heat of the bag.
Some users claim putting a cup of water in the microwave with your rice heat pack helps warm it up more evenly.
The Rice Heat Pack Life Expectancy
A rice heating pad will work for as long as the outer fabric will hold the rice inside, but the smell of moldiness and burned rice can make a rice heat pack unusable.
Uncooked rice lasts thirty years when it is kept in an oxygen-free container and a year when it is exposed to oxygen.
However, when rice is cooked, it only lasts five to six days.
According to the National Health Service, after this point, rice can begin to release a type of bacteria called bacillus cereus.
Bacillus cereus is known for causing food poisoning, but only when eaten.
One should never eat the rice used in a rice heat pack.
Bacteria buildup can lead to rice heat packs smelling moldy.
Another reason your rice heat pack may smell is burnt rice, from overheating or overusing.
On average, when using a microwave, a rice heat pack should be heated up for sixty to ninety seconds, while flipping it over and checking it every thirty seconds.
When considering how long a rice heat pack will last, the focus is more on the rice and the smell that can come from it.
What Can Be Done About the Smell?
Having to remake your rice heat pack can be a hassle to do every few days, especially for chronic pain sufferers.
There are ways to fight the smell and prevent it from happening.
The first tip is to fill your rice heat pack with essential oils or other scents.
The stronger the smell, the less likely you will smell your rice heat pack.
The second recommendation is to make sure you’re not overheating your rice heat pack.
The smell of burnt rice ruins a rice heat pack more often than anything else.
If a rice heat pack doesn’t have enough water inside, this could also lead to the rice inside burning more easily.
You can always leave a cup of water in the microwave with your rice heat pack in order to help moisten the rice and the inside of your microwave.
Why Many Prefer Rice Heat Packs
Despite the hassle of rice heat packs, many users sing their praises.
This love of rice heating packs goes beyond them being what many peoples’ parents and grandparents did.
There are a lot of reasons a person may prefer this type of heating pad.
Unlike your modern electric heating pad, rice heat packs can go anywhere with you.
There is no need to be stuck to an outlet while in pain.
Rice heat packs come in a multitude of sizes, designs, and even scents.
Electric heating pads are often made of uncomfortable, scratchy material.
Rice heat packs come in all different types of microwave-safe fabrics.
Websites like Etsy have hundreds, if not thousands, of options to choose from.
There is no greater advantage than supporting a small business while also taking care of yourself or your loved ones.
Not only can you have your choice in fabrics, but you can also have a choice in scents.
Some of the most common scents include calming smells like lavender, chamomile, peppermint, and eucalyptus.
Many sufferers of chronic migraines use the combination of heat and soothing scent as a way to help get them through the pain.
Users also claim that while electric heating pads are stiff and can be too firm to be comfortable, a rice heat pack can feel almost as nice as a hot bath.
The softer form of the rice heat pack can be more soothing for those with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and others who may have sensory problems.
How Rice Heat Packs Work
Rice heat packs are one of many ways to apply heat therapy.
Heat therapy has been used to relieve pain since ancient times, as seen in ancient Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, and Japanese cultures.
A rice heat pack is doing the same job as a nice soak in a hot spring, just on a smaller scale.
Both of these methods fall under the heat therapy called conducted heat therapy.
The reason it is called conducted heat therapy is that you are transferring the heat energy between one object with plentiful heat energy to another with less or no heat energy.
The heat from your rice heat pack is dilating the blood vessels near the heat pack in order to bring more oxygen and nutrients.
This combination of oxygen and nutrients is what helps heal the infected area.
The heat from the rice heat pack is also taking your body’s focus off of the pain by stimulating the skin.
The heat from the rice heat pack also loosens up muscles by removing lactic acid that builds up in them when tensed or overused.
The more tense you are, the more pain you’re going to be in.
Many chronic pain sufferers find that the heat therapy that rice heat packs provide works better for them than paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Heat therapy can be especially useful for people who suffer from long-term chronic pain.
Those with sports injuries may find it relieving after a workout or physical therapy session.
The heat therapy that rice heat packs provide can also help soothe muscle spasms caused by overexertion.
If your sciatic nerve ever begins to give you trouble, you can use a heat pack to help lessen the pain.
Chronic arthritis sufferers can use heat rice packs as a way to lower the amount of swelling that arthritis can cause.
Those with endometriosis can use heat therapy to relax the muscles surrounding their stomach, abdomen, pelvic floor, and lower back.
Tips For Making One At Home
Rice heat packs are an excellent option in a pain emergency because most of us have the materials we need at home.
All it takes is some cloth that is 100% cotton, the cheapest white rice you can find, and some thread.
The best shape to make for an even transfer of heat is one that is long and flat.
However, it’s best for you to tailor your rice heat pack to your pain.
For easy use, it is recommended that you keep your rice heat pack small enough to fit into your microwave.
Materials To Use
If you don’t sew, you can always use a fresh, unworn sock or leg warmers and some baker’s twine.
For your safety, consider which kind of fabric you’re using heavily.
The thicker the material, the less likely the heating pad is to burn your skin, or even worse, break open.
Check whatever fabric you are using for weak spots or holes by putting it up against a light.
You should make sure that you are only using 100% cotton, wool, hemp, or linen for your heat pack.
Any fabric with a tag that says the fabric is flammable at low temperatures is not microwave-safe.
Any material made from synthetic materials should never go in a microwave.
You should also keep in mind the age of the fabric.
The newer the fabric, the less likely your homemade rice heat pack is to smell poorly.
You don’t want your rice heating pad smelling like sweaty gym clothes because it will also make your microwave smell like a gym locker.
For the best results, use as new and as fresh of a fabric as possible.
If you are using a sock or something about the size of a sock, four to six cups of white rice are recommended.
Using any type of instant rice can lead to mold growing sooner, if not instantly.
White rice is strong and can withstand more heating time than instant rice or minute rice.
White rice is also incredibly cheap and can be bought for fifty cents per pound, sometimes even less.
Using Essential Oils
Before you tie your rice heat pack shut, make sure to add any scents you may want now.
If using a scented oil, like essential oils, five to ten drops is the recommended amount.
There are other options for scents than just essential oils.
You can also use tea from tea bags, like chamomile or lavender.
Another option for scents is any dried flower of your choice.
If you are using a homemade rice pack, you may be able to replace the rice inside, should it begin to smell.
Replacing the rice regularly can extend the useful life of your homemade rice heat pack and can lower the risk of the heat pack catching fire.
You can do this by leaving the end open during the heating process and closing it with a hair tie or rubber band once it’s been warmed.
While the rubber band or hair tie isn’t as sturdy and is not recommended if the rice heat pack is intended for use by a child due to it being a choking hazard, it is a solid solution for extending the lifespan of your pack.
If you are making a rice heat pack for a child, make sure that the pack is big enough to not be ingested by the child.
The recommended size for a child’s rice heat pack is ten inches by eleven inches.
You also need to ensure that the ends of the fabric are sewn tightly, allowing not even a single grain of rice to come out.
The bacteria that grows on rice that has not been stored properly, bacillus cereus, can cause vomiting and diarrhea for up to twenty-four hours when consumed.
Rice Heat Packs Have Their Own Merits
Rice heat packs are excellent, affordable, environmentally friendly, and heat therapy tools.
They make great gifts, especially since more than fifty million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s nearly twenty percent of the population of the United States.
The heat therapy that rice heat packs can provide is crucial for the ability of many chronic pain sufferers to get through the day.
While rice heat packs may not always be the most convenient option, their ability to go anywhere and easy and affordable product makes them a great choice for heat therapy.
As long as you can replace the rice inside of the heat pack every few days or so, your rice heating pack will last you as long as the fabric holds up.
The customization that rice heat packs provide helps many chronic pain sufferers and everyday bumpers and bruisers get the exact type of relief that they need for their medical conditions.