Often, before buying a heating pads for microwave, we consider making one ourselves. For those of you who want to make a homemade wheat bag, here is a step-by-step guide to help you succeed in your creation.
We show you which are the best materials to make your bag, from which seed filling is the best, which is the ideal fabric or even which flowers and aromatic herbs are the most suitable, let’s get to it.
Step 1: What fabric do we choose to make a homemade thermal seed bag?
Although at first you might think that you could choose any type of fabric to make a microwave heating pad, it is better to stop and analyse which fabric is going to be the most resistant and suitable, as the use you are going to give to the thermal pillow is going to be mainly to apply heat, therefore the material to use must be resistant to high temperatures.
Well then, not all fabrics are suitable for being heated, as those that are synthetic and come from petroleum have plastic compositions that can cause it to melt or burn, leaving a bad smell in the house for a while and the wheat bag unusable.
It is best to use natural fibres, which are more resistant to high temperatures and are more breathable, the latter being a quality to be taken into account, as what we want to achieve is that the heat of the seeds, which are inside the thermal cushion, passes outwards, so the breathability factor of the fabric is important.
Let’s go through all the options we have one by one to see their advantages and disadvantages before choosing the fabric with which to make one, or even to take into account if you are looking to buy thermal pillows.
To summarise all the information, here are the highlights in 2 sentences:
- Natural fibre fabrics: cotton, linen, muslin… are breathable, can withstand high temperatures, are free of allergic reactions and have thousands of other uses. On the downside, they are usually more expensive than synthetic fabrics.
- Synthetic fabrics (polyester): fleece, coraline… They do not breathe well, get the cushions wet and leave them cold, and can burn. The advantage is that the fabric is cheap and has a wide range of prints.
Making it with polyester fabrics
- Polyester, nowadays, has a leading role together with cotton, so we have to be aware that this type of fabric has some advantages.
- It is widely used in technical and sports fashion, especially for winter textiles, as it is a good insulator and keeps you warm.
- The variability of prints, which are constantly renewed and are usually in many bright colours.
- The price per metre is usually quite cheap
- In seed pillows for microwaves, what is least convenient is that the heat is not transmitted and this is what happens when we use a 100% polyester fabric, which keeps all the accumulated heat inside the bag and this does not pass to the outside, to our body, therefore, all the function and benefits of thermotherapy are lost.
- Furthermore, we run the risk that this fabric, as it accumulates heat, could ignite and cause a fire, as it is derived from petroleum, specifically, from elastomers.
Use cotton/polyester blend
- There is a type of fabric known as which is a 50% mixture of cotton and polyester. Is widely used in the manufacture of tablecloths, curtains and upholstery.
- Half of its composition is cotton, which makes it softer and more comfortable, and the other half is polyester, which makes it easy to wash, as it is not necessary to iron because there are no wrinkles in the fabric.
- If the bag we are going to make has 1 kg of seeds, is not the ideal fabric as it would have to be heated in the microwave for more than 2 minutes and we run the risk of blackening the fabric, producing bad smells or even burning it.
- It feels very damp, the polyester does not breathe and the heat ends up condensing, producing this damp effect that does little to benefit the application of dry heat.
Use fleece or “fur” textile
- I’m sure you love the blankets we use on the sofa that are made of synthetic fur, often with animal prints such as zebra, tiger, cow, etc…. They are very soft to the touch and are also very warm.
- This type of fabric, which is so often used in warm clothes (blankets, dressing gowns, jumpers, pyjamas…) keeps us very warm instantly, because they are made with 100% polyester, a fabric that does not allow the heat from our body to pass outwards.
- The advantages that this fabric has when it comes to making our microwavable seed pillow are very few, although enough to convince many people: they are very soft, many people love animal prints and it makes us think that they will transmit more heat than others as our dressing gown makes us stay warm at home, but for the case we are dealing with they are not useful for us.
- Thinking that with this type of fabric we are going to feel the warmth of the thermal pillow more is false. When the bag made with fleece or similar (fur) is heated in the microwave for 1:30 minutes, the heat is barely noticeable, but inside, the seeds are very hot.
- This happens because polyester is not a breathable fabric and is very dangerous as it can lead us to think that we need to heat it longer and then the seeds can burn, leaving an unbearable smell in the house for several days or even go further if there is a fire.
Use 100% cotton fabric
Cotton is the king of fabrics, think of the feeling you get when you put on a 100% cotton shirt or T-shirt, when you lie down on cotton sheets, the socks you feel most comfortable wearing, the cotton underwear? You love it, don’t you?
The 100% cotton fabric is good for both summer and winter, it fits our body like a second skin, because it is a completely natural fibre, extracted directly from a plant to go through various treatments to become the beautiful fabric that we find in the shops.
As for the manufacture of seed cushions, 100% cotton fabric is the only fabric that should be allowed, because being a natural component, it is much more resistant to high temperatures, unlike polyester fabrics that are highly flammable.
Another point to highlight is the breathable property of this fabric. When we heat the cushion in the microwave, we will feel it as hot as the seeds inside, so there will be no overheating and all the heat of the seeds will be transmitted to us through the pores of the fabric.
In addition to resisting high temperatures, the 100% cotton fabric also resists continuous use, so if we make the bags with this type of fabric, we are ensuring that our seed pillow will last a long time.
The allergies that can produce certain synthetic fabrics exposed to our skin, with 100% cotton this will not happen because being natural does not produce any redness or allergies on the skin, so we use them with our cushions, even for babies, what is more delicate than our baby’s skin? The best for them!
The cotton fabric that we like the most to make the thermal pillows is the one with the print with small drawings, because these usually have a smaller size, especially those for babies and infants, which adapt well to many areas of our body, and a print with large drawings would not be appreciated well in all the pieces.
Is this a disadvantage? Yes, it can be, because a cotton fabric with small patterns is the one used in Patchwork and it is usually much more expensive than the ones we have mentioned made of canvas or polyester, which, being synthetic fabrics, have a very low price.
In any case, don’t let the price put you off making a thermal pillows at home because once you have it made, its average life is at least 10 years and its quality is unbeatable. Have you tried ours?
Step 2: What are the best seeds to fill the heating pads?
It is normal that when you think about making a homemade wheat bag you have many doubts about what type of filling would be the most suitable, both in seeds and aromatic flowers. When we heat the bag in the microwave to use it as heat therapy, some seeds and flowers give off too much odour and in other cases, the fragrance inside the bag is hardly noticeable.
When you design and manufacture your own handmade heat packs, you want them to be the best in the world, the highest quality and the most beautiful, but in the process you realise that the road is far from rosy. It is true that you have been using seed bags for many years and you know what can be better or worse.
Let’s take a look at all the different types of seeds you can try and which one you choose depends on you, your tastes and uses:
Thermal pillows made from cherry pits
Perhaps the cherry pits for filling the thermal pillows are the most common. At first sight they may be a good option, as they seem to be more voluminous, it seems that with less quantity we are going to fill the thermal cushions and we also think that they would keep more heat, besides, we love cherries and their smell, so we decided to try them.
When we made the first tests it turned out that the cherry stones do not adapt well to our body in certain postures , becoming annoying in sensitive areas such as waist or back because of its hardness, also the smell when heating is quite unpleasant, nothing to do with the cherry, they do not meet all the conditions of ergonomics that we were looking for the filling, perhaps they are very famous but they are not the best option.
Thermal pillows filled with olive pits
We continued with the pits, and we wanted to see how well the cushions filled with olive pits fit the body, as we had heard about them and we always prefer to try them to make sure, and indeed, they are very similar to the thermal pillows with cherry pits, they do not quite fit our body well and perhaps they are even more uncomfortable than the previous ones.
Thermal pillows with millet seeds
We are discarding possible candidates for the filling of homemade heating pads. In this test we opted for millet seeds, they are small and round, they adapt quite well to the body and are not uncomfortable, which makes them an excellent option to be chosen for the thermal cushions, they would have been if they had not lost heat quickly and that is a shame. Ideally, a heating bag should be able to withstand the heat for considerably longer when heated in the microwave.
Microwaveable bags made with rice
I’m sure that at some time, while strolling through a Medieval fair, you may have seen some thermal pillows with rice, they may be strange to see but apparently they are more common than they seem. Even at first we didn’t think it was a good choice to fill the bags with rice, and even less so when we tested it and it turned out that after heating the cushion in the microwave it gave off a rather unpleasant smell. We had also read that “bugs” tend to grow between the rice grains, the so-called weevils, they are not very common inside a thermal pillow but better safe than sorry.
Thermal pillows made from flax seeds
You can try flax, as we once heard that these seeds for filling heating pads are a good option. They are very small in size and adapt very well to any part of our body and are comfortable. The truth is that we liked it a lot and we had a hard time deciding between this and the wheat filling, both the golden linen and the wheat used in the heating pad filling are seeds and can be attacked by bugs if they are not properly preserved.
Microwaveable wheat bags
Perhaps the perfect filling for cushions, wheat meets all the quality requirements, wheat seeds are small, elongated, they adapt to any part of the body, they withstand heat perfectly after being heated in the microwave, they do not give off a strong smell, they keep the cold well in case we want to use our bag to treat inflammatory processes and they are not the most expensive seeds, they are the winning seeds to make your bag.
Other types of seeds and fillers
We do not want to forget to mention other seeds that can be used to make our homemade heating pad, such as:
Step 3: What are the best flowers and aromatic herbs to make your homemade microwavable heating pad?
Lavender flowers for their traditional use in aromatherapy are one of the best choices due to the medicinal properties of the essential oil of this plant. It is relaxing, stimulating and helps to develop the sense of smell. Lavender flowers smell very good and combine with wheat seeds to offer a relaxing fragrance and bring wellbeing.
One of the strengths of the wheat seed sachets is that they are accompanied by lavender, the queen of aromatherapy, which contains in its flowers an essential oil used to soothe and relax. The essential oil, being volatile, makes it easy to inhale and we can benefit from its aroma and active ingredients.
Aromatherapy, especially with lavender, has been shown to help improve mood and achieve full relaxation. If you prefer, you can make a bag of unscented seeds, although we advise you to include some of the plants listed below, as the smell can be strong at first, but as you use it, the smell disappears.
Below is a small list of other herbs and aromatic flowers that we can use:
- Chamomile: Relieves infant colic, perfect for treating insomnia, anxiety and stress.
- Lemon verbena: To reduce stress, anguish, depression, insomnia, benefits for high blood pressure and tachycardia.
- Rosemary: Helps stimulate mental activity and improve concentration, may improve memory, mood and energy levels.
- Orange blossom: Provides relaxation and reduces arrhythmias in stressful or nervous situations.
- Peppermint: Inhaling peppermint essential oil can help clear a stuffy nose and soothe a sore throat.
- Melissa: It is calming, uplifting and can help balance emotions. It is noted for its relaxing and nervous system toning properties, used to treat anxiety, depression, nervous tension and digestive discomfort.
- Cinnamon: With this scent you will experience a feeling of total relaxation with a sweet touch.