This DIY microwavable heating pad tutorial is great for sore muscles, aching backs, or just something to warm your feet in the winter. It's a great way to use up scrap fabric and simple enough for beginner sewers. Make some for yourself and a few to give to your family and friends.
When my kids were little I bought my first "corn bag" from a local craft fair. If you haven't heard of a sore muscle corn heating pad, it's a simple bag filled with corn that you microwave. Then you place it on your back or neck etc.. to provide heat therapy to your pain or sore muscles.
Here's the one I bought years ago and we still use it today. That's right, they last a long time. However, it is a bit ragged and my daughter was saying that she wouldn't mind having one for herself. Then we thought why not make one that is long and skinny to put in the bed at night to keep your feet warm for a little while.
So I set out to make a few different sizes, a couple of rectangles and a square shape to give to my girls. In one I even added a little lavender to make it smell nice. Not that they smell bad. They smell like corn.
- Feed Corn or Whole or Cracked - not popcorn
- Cotton material - Below is a diagram of the ones I made, but you can make them any size you want.
- Lavender flowers or essential oils for scent (optional)
Making Microwavable Heating Pads/Bags
Step 1. Cut out your fabric allowing 1/2 inch on all sides for a seam allowance.
Step 2. Press under 1/2 inch one of the short sides. (this will be the opening)
Step 3. With right sides together sew the two long sides and the other short side.
Step 4. Cut corners and turn right side out.
Step 5. Fill 2/3 - 3/4 full with corn and lavender. If you want to use essential oils mix them in the corn ahead of time.
Step 6. Close the opening by topstitching with a similar color thread or a contrasting one.
That's all there is to it.
I also used the same sample quilting squares in two complementary fabrics to make smaller corn bags. Too pretty for the game corn hole?
How to Use a Corn Bag Heating Pad
To use, set it in the microwave, and heat it on high for 1-2 minutes. Shake slightly to distribute any hot spots. Reheat as necessary. You could also use the corn heating pad as an ice pack. Just set one in the freezer. However, I would cover it with a plastic bag first to keep it dry.
How to Wash a Corn Heating Pad
You can spot clean it with a towel and some soap. However, if you really want to thoroughly clean it after a while. I would suggest opening the hand sewn seam and removing the corn. Clean the corn in a bowl of soapy water and then spread it out to dry thoroughly. In the meantime, throw the cover into the wash. Once both the cover and the corn are clean you can refill the bag and hand sew it closed again.
Can I use Polyester Fabric or Thread?
I use cotton material when I sew but a reader mentioned below that some websites say not to use polyester thread in the microwave.
Where to Find Feed Corn
You can easily find the cracked corn at any hardware or big box store, in the bird food aisle. Since this is cracked corn, it may have some powder in the mix from the ground corn, so you might want to rinse and dry it first, before filling your bags.
If you live in the country, feed stores would also be a great place to find feed corn for your filler. Just don't use popcorn. Additionally, some people have used uncooked rice or flaxseed which I've read works well, only I don't believe it lasts as long.
Wouldn't they make great gifts?
More Fun and Easy Fabric Crafts:
DIY Sore Muscle Corn Bag
- sewing machine
- Feed Corn or Whole or Cracked - not popcorn
- Cotton fabric - Above is a template of the ones I made but you can make them any size you want.
- Cotton Thread
- Lavender flowers or lavender essential oils for scent optional
- Cut out fabric the size you want and allow 1/2 inch on all sides for a seam allowance.
- Press under 1/2 inch on one of the short sides. This will be the opening.
- With the right sides together sew the two long sides and the other short side.
- Cut corners and turn right side out.
- Fill 2/3 - 3/4 full with corn.
- Add some dried lavender buds if desired.
- Close the opening by topstitching or hand stitch with a similar color thread or a contrasting one.
I made a corn bag using deer corn. While in microwave it sounded like some kernels popped like popcorn. Is this normal?
Colleen, I'm not sure if there is a difference between deer corn and filed corn but I have never had it pop in the microwave. It doesn't seem ideal but if it's just a random kernel it probably won't hurt.
I bought 2 at a Fairgrounds at a Christmas bazzare this weekend...I put one in my microwave for 2 minutes when I took it out it was damp...I put it around my neck and it was getting more damp my neck was wet...is this normal?? I didn't like it damp...will this dry or will mold inside?? THANK-YOU
Linda, I have not experienced this issue. I'm not sure what was put in them to make them damp.
Hi! I’m getting ready to make some corn bags for Christmas. What I’m wondering if how’s much lavender oil you add to the corn? Thank you!
It's up to you. The lavender is not essential. It's an added option for scent so you could use as little or as much as you like.
Can you tell me more about adding essential oils? Would that take away the smell of corn?
Adding essential oil should help. Try adding some oil to a fixative such as cellulose fiber, orris root, or oak moss to add to the bag.
Where can I buy the fixatives you have named? Would a Health fit store have them? I don’t have time to order.
I find them online but you could try a craft store or a store that sells potpourri-making supplies. You don't have to add oils to the bag. You could just add some dried lavender for scent. Or leave it out entirely.
Not sure how critical this is, but I made one of these using another link a few months ago. In it, they mentioned the importance of using cotton thread as well as the cotton fabric. Said it could be an issue when in the microwave if polyester.
Cindy, I never thought about it but you bring up a good point. I'll put it in the notes. Thanks for sharing.
Can I use flannel material?
Emily, I haven't done it yet but I think a cotton flannel would be great.
I have done many with cotton flannel an they are great!
That's a great idea Susie. Thanks for sharing.
How long does the corn last? Should we switch out the corn every couple of months/years?
Angie, I have one that's more than 10 years old and it still works and seems fine. I think you may have more problems with the fabric wearing out.
Not sure how much the cracked corn costs but I have been making these for years with deer corn and a huge bag only costs about $8.00 and I get around 30 average size heat pads from the one bag. Everyone loves them. I even made one small one with rice once and attached it to a headband for my friend with migraines who got tired of holding her heat pad to her head. Great website you have here.
Upon searching, it looks like they may be similar in price. Good to know that deer corn works well. Thanks for sharing your experience here.
I like to use a "pillow case" method. Put the corn in a muslin bag which is closed with stitching, then have a slip-on case to put it in. It is a necessity with the ice bags. I use the water/alcohol mixture to seal in Food Saver sealed bags, and make "pillow cases" to fit them. They're perfect for the grandkids booboos, and I had several to use inside my bra after breast cancer surgery. I have larger ones to put those blue ice blocks in that we use in coolers. We keep them frozen year around as we live in Florida.
That's a great idea and thanks for sharing it!
How do you wash them and keep them clean and fresh?
I don't recommend washing it. You can spot clean it or if it is badly soiled I would cut it open, wash the corn and thoroughly dry it and make a new cover.
Great idea! How do you store them? Can they sit out or do they need to be in a ziplock or the freezer?
I just keep mine in a drawer. No need to keep ziplocked or frozen.
Yes there are great! You can also make icebags,put alcohol and water in a baggie put in freezer,it will not freeze solid,then put in a bag you have made,I have used fleece,hand towels and dish towels,what ever.
That is a great idea. I'll have to make a few casing for ice bags too. Thanks for the great idea!