I know it might sound crazy but I had never heard of a rice bag until I moved to Washington and my mother-in-law introduced me to them. I never really had much of a need for one until I was married and started having kids then suddenly I had a million reasons to want a rice bag. In fact, I love rice bags so much during pregnancy that I have them listed as one of my pregnancy must haves!
Pregnancy aside, rice bags are wonderful for those achy shoulders, cramps, restless leg syndrome and so much more. Just plain rice is great and it’s what I’ve had for years now but you can also go one step further with an aromatherapy rice bag. A scented rice bag can do magical things. I didn’t think they were all that amazing until I made a few different scents for family members as Christmas gifts. Lavender, spice, eucalyptus, peppermint… the list could go on (and I’ll give you some ideas at the bottom of this tutorial.) A DIY aromatherapy rice bag or even just a plain rice bag is a must have for any “medicine cabinet”, pregnant mama, sick kiddo, or as a great gift.
Don’t be intimidated by the homemade aspect of these rice bags. They are probably the simplest thing you could sew. It’s very simple and very forgiving as most of the seams are completely hidden!
DIY Aromatherapy Rice Bag
Natural Fabric – such as cotton (you will need roughly a 12×20 piece. A fat quarter is great for this project)
Sewing machine (not absolutely necessary but it will making things a LOT faster)
Aromatherapy Options – essential oils or herbs (ideas at bottom of post) (scent is optional, plain rice is great too)
Cut fabric into a 12×20 inch rectangle. (this size drapes nicely over adult shoulders but you can make your bag into any size.)
Fold fabric with right sides together. You will now have a rectangle that is 6×20.
Sew fabric down one short side, along the long side, and down just part of the remaining short side. Leave a small opening so that you can turn fabric right side out and fill with rice. (see photo)
Turn fabric right side out. You can also iron the fabric at this time if you would like but I don’t bother as wrinkles will disappear as you heat up the rice bag.
In a bowl, combine rice with your aromatherapy option. Mix well. I found many sites saying to let the rice absorb the scents (particularly essential oils) for one day before filling the rice bag but odds are you can also fill immediately with no harm.
Insert a funnel (or paper funnel) into fabric bag and start filling the bag with rice. Fill bag halfway with rice. I’ve found that you need about 6 cups of rice for this size rice bag.
Once your bag is half full with rice, remove funnel. Fold the raw edges of the “hole” so that it lines up with the sewn edge. Now sew the hole closed. This looks best if you sew by hand so that seams are hidden but I’ve been known to just run it under the sewing machine for a quicker method… granted I usually only do that with my personal bag; I like gifts to looks a bit prettier.
Heat rice bag in microwave for 2-3 minutes (for this size. Smaller size bags will need less time.)
No microwave? No problem! I’ve also heard you can heat up a rice bag in the oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes but make sure to check on the bag often.
Place in the freezer till cold and use as an cool pack.
Lavender – 3-4 tbs. dried lavender or 3 drops of lavender essential oil
Eucalyptus – 2-3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
Rosemary – 2-3 drops of rosemary essential oil
Chamomile – 3-4 tbs dried chamomile or 3 drops of chamomile essential oil
Cinnamon – 3-4 tbs of cinnamon chips.
Spice – 3-4 tbs your favorite spices – I love a mix of cinnamon, clove, and ginger.
Peppermint – 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil
Any scent will really work. You can open up tea bags and use those (I just did a spiced chai), any essential oils, any herbs will likely work as well.