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How to Make a Rice Sock

This guide will help you create a "rice sock"; a compress which can be heated in a microwave or chilled in a freezer and applied to the body to help relieve pain and discomfort. Flaxseed can also be used and stays hot longer.


  1. Image titled Make a Rice Sock Step 1 preview
    Get a clean cotton sock and fill it with uncooked rice. You can also add flax seed which takes longer to heat than rice, but is also smoother and stays warm longer. Don't pack it in tightly; leave some room for the grains to move around so that it will more easily conform to the area to be treated.
  2. Image titled Make a Rice Sock Step 2 preview
    Use a thick athletic type sock, so grain will not stick through. Tie the open end of the sock with yarn, ribbon, or string. It's also possible to tie the end of a longer sock to keep the grain from spilling out, and this is more reliable.
  3. Image titled Make a Rice Sock Step 3 preview
    Put the filled sock in a microwave oven for approximately 1-3 minutes (or to chill the sock, put it in a freezer for about 45 minutes). When you heat the rice sock place a cup of water in the microwave to add moisture during the heating process. Heat time will vary depending on size.
  4. Image titled Make a Rice Sock Step 4 preview
    Shake the rice/grain sock to evenly distribute the heated or chilled rice.
  5. Image titled Make a Rice Sock Step 5 preview
    Apply the sock to the desired body part.
  6. Image titled Make a Rice Sock Step 6 preview
    To use for physical therapy, just create a smaller rice sock and knead it slowly and gently with the affected hand. As time passes and the hand gets stronger, knead harder.


  • You can add a few drops of your favorite scented oil, such as pure essential lavender oil, which aids in relaxation.
  • If you use a sewing machine to keep it together, zig-zag stitching works best for stretchy socks, and it's also better to keep the rice in.
  • A rice sock also works well for comforting puppies who cry in the night. Warm it and put it in bed with the puppy. Be certain it's not too hot.
  • A good way to make a larger rice "pillow" is to fold a soft dishtowel (clean) in half. Sew up two of the sides, fill it with rice, then sew up the third side. These are especially good for menstrual cramps, because the weight feels nice on the abdomen, and the heat soothes the pain. It's also great as a foot warmer in bed.
  • An alternate way to make these, if you have more time, is to sew a little pouch (with or without a decorative design). These can be used for yourself, given as gifts, or even to sell if they are really good.
  • New rice will give off quite a bit of moisture when microwaved and will smell strongly. The more your sock/beanbag is used and microwaved the less damp it will feel and the smell will gradually fade.
  • Sewing the end of the sock is much longer lasting and more durable than yarn or a knot. Just be sure to sew stitches close together so rice does not fall through.
  • To make filling the sock easier, put it in a large travel mug and stretch the opening around the rim of the cup.
  • The foot of an old pair of pantyhose could be used as the inside layer of a two layer sock to keep the rice from migrating through a less tightly woven outer sock.
  • For easy scenting, open a teabag and mix the contents with the rice.
  • A small amount of Vick's VapoRub can create an aromatic and therapeutic aid that will help with colds or allergies.
  • To be prepared for the unexpected, keep one in your freezer, so it's ready to use at a moment's notice.
  • Corn seed (available at farm outlets) can also be used and the heat generated seems to last longer. Don't use popcorn for this project! The corn also has a slight odor when heated. If made from sturdy material, it can withstand years of daily use!
  • If the sock becomes dirty, you can throw it away and make a new one, or empty the contents into a clean sock and wash the dirty one.
  • If you have no materials around to seal the sock, just tie a knot in the end of the sock itself or sew up the end of the sock to create a permanent seal.
  • Washed and dried cherry pits can also be used instead of rice.
  • Bird seed also works well and is smooth if you use the packaged type for small birds.
  • Be sure the sock is closed tightly and knot the tie to prevent a spill.
  • Flax seed (those little things you find in birdseed) is another possibility. Flax seeds are small, hard, smooth brown seeds about the size of a sesame seed. Their smoothness makes them conform very well to any shape.
  • Another method is using an old pair of jeans or the remnants of cutoffs. Sew up three sides to form a sort of pouch, fill with rice, and sew up the fourth. This creates more insulation to retain heat longer and warmer.
  • A small pillowcase may be substituted for the sock if you want a pad that covers more area. Remember, more area means slightly longer heating/cooling time. You will want to experiment with times and settings, but be careful not to burn yourself.
  • You can add some dried herbs to provide scent, as well. A popular mix is dried lavender, chamomile and lemon peel.
  • If you use a women's knee high sock, u can easily wrap it around your neck. Plus the grain doesn't poke true!
  • Don't do three minutes. One was good. At three, my sock burned like crispy bacon (no fire, just made the sock crispy and burnt).


  • Never use anything metal to make your rice sock because you will be using it in the microwave, and microwaves do not like metal.
  • Do not use Minute Rice or other quick cooking sorts of rice.
  • To prevent fires, put a glass of water in the microwave with your rice sock when heating it.
  • Don't use twist ties to close your sock, as they may contain metal.
  • If the rice sock feels too cold or hot at first, you can wrap it with a light towel until the temperature equalizes a bit.
  • Never use a rice sock on a person who is sleeping, anyone who is paralyzed, a person who has been given medication that might numb their body (such as an epidural), or an infant. They could be burned severely, because they will not be able to feel or tell you if the sock is too hot.
  • Use caution so as not to overheat the sock. Rice socks can cause severe burns if overheated. The rice can also burn! At the very least this will smell bad, and it could possibly start a fire or burn a hole in the sock.
  • Do not treat a child's fever with cold; tepid baths are better.
  • Make sure your microwave is clean, otherwise you will burn the fabric, or just always put it on a plate.
  • Use a cool or cold rice sock to cool someone with a fever as long as it does not induce shivering, since this can increase metabolism and body temperature. For an adult with a high fever place a cold sock on the forehead and cool socks in each armpit and, if tolerated, at the base of the back of the neck. Check the temperature about every 20-30 minutes. Continue cooling until the temperature is below ~101F . A cool sock at the base of the neck or on the forehead can be continued for comfort.

Things You'll Need

  • A clean cotton sock
  • Uncooked rice or flax seed.
  • A piece of yarn, ribbon or string, not plastic
  • A microwave and / or a freezer
  • A small pillowcase may be substituted for the sock if you wish a larger pad.

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Categories: Featured Articles | Fabric and Clothing Reuse | Hot and Cold Compresses