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Heating a Rice Pack Without a Microwave

Hot rice packs are wonderful tools for easing muscle aches, cramps, and just comforting to use in cold weather. I prefer using a rice pack to an electric heating pad because you’re not tied to an electrical outlet.

A few years ago, though, I got rid of our microwave. I have some concerns about whether they are healthy, and we rarely used it anyway. Even if the potential health risks are exaggerated or non-existent, I don’t like having things that don’t get used taking up space. At the time, it was summer in Texas, I didn’t really miss my rice packs. Now that it’s cold, I wanted to find a way to heat them without caving and getting another microwave.

Please be cautious. I’ve seen some things that say anything other than a microwave is a fire-risk, so if you try to heat a rice pack in an oven, please never leave it unattended and use extreme caution. All appliances are different, so what works with mine may not work with yours.

Basic oven method

When researching, I found many people say to use an oven set to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes. They also said to put the rice pack on a metal tray or roasting pan, and to have a pan or oven-safe dish of water alongside it to keep it from getting too dry.

My method

I was a little concerned that I may forget about it, and my oven doesn’t have a window so keeping an eye on it would be difficult. I do have a counter-top convection oven, so  that is what use. Because the door is glass, I can see in and keep an eye on things. It also has a timer that turns the unit off once time is up, so even if I get distracted I don’t have to worry about it over-heating. 

I always place the rice pack on a tray and put a dish of water in with it as others have suggested. Any rice packs I heat in the oven are made with 100% cotton fabric and thread. Synthetics melt easier and burn faster, whereas cotton can withstand a pretty high heat and burns slower, so cotton seems like a safer choice. 

I started with 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes. It worked, but I needed it hotter. I upped it to 300-325 degrees for 15-20 minutes. At that temperature, sometimes I have to let it cool for a minute or wrap it in a towel, but it works better for me than the lower temperature. I tend to push the limit with heat, though, so 200 degrees for thirty minutes is probably plenty for most.

Probably safer method

One other method I’ve seen is to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, TURN IT OFF, and place the rice pack (on a tray with heatproof dish of water next to it) in the preheated oven. I haven’t tried this yet, but having the oven hot but turned off seems like it would minimize any risk of the rice pack overheating and burning. If I didn’t have the convection oven, I would probably use this method. 

The standard microwave method

Using a microwave is still the recommended method. To heat rice packs in the microwave, warm it in the microwave in 15 second intervals until you reach the desired temperature. Some people recommend placing a cup of water in the microwave as well.

Basic safety

Whether you use a microwave or an oven, be mindful that they can vary in power. ALWAYS test the temperature of the rice pack before using and never leave the microwave or oven unattended while heating. You should never use heat packs on individuals who are unable to let you know if it feels too warm on their skin.

Lavender rice packs at SubEarthan Cottage

SubEarthan Cottage now offers large 100% cotton flannel rice packs. These are filled with a blend of rice and lavender buds for a pleasant hint of lavender. I sewed channels in the flannel to help keep the rice evenly distributed. They can be heated as described above, or kept in the freezer to use cold. Find all of my rice packs here.


Lavender rice packs at SubEarthan Cottage.

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4 thoughts on “Heating a Rice Pack Without a Microwave

  1. Hi – found this post while searching for anyone who has used a rice pack without a microwave, so glad this exists! I just made my pack with 100% cotton fabric and thread but I’m still so nervous to put it in the oven. Seeing as this post is over a year old now, wondering if in that time you’ve had any negative experiences or close calls with fire/melting/general hazards? Do you use a glass cooking tray or would a metal sheet tray work fine? Any other new tips? Thank you!!

    1. I haven’t had any close calls, but I always stay close, check on it frequently and set a timer to remind me in case a kiddo distracts me from it.

      I prefer to use a metal sheet tray. Glass is probably fine, but metal just generally seems safer to me.

      It’s also important to keep an oven-proof dish of water in the oven with the rice pack.

      The method of pre-heating the oven and turning it off before putting the pack in the hot oven is still the safest, so you might start with that. 😁

  2. Thank you. I’m moving to a new place without a microwave. I have a small portable oven. I will do as you say. 300degrees, turn it off. Put it in the oven on-a cookie sheet with a bowl of water for 20 min.
    That sounds good. When winter comes I toss a rice bag in my bed. Warm feet I fall asleep quickly. When I make a new bag or wash the old, I dump out the rice and use it again. I love it. It’s my treat to me. I’ve made them for a lot of people.

  3. I just bought a pack with silicon beads, supposed to be better and more hygienic, have no microwave, suppose I try the method, but no water.
    Anyone used this?

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