How to Make an Aromatherapy Heating Pad

Hello friends! Stephanie from Stephie B’s Designs here today to show you another quick and easy project… how to make an aromatherapy heating pad or heating bag. If you’ve read any of my other tutorials, you know that I love the quick and easy ones, especially when they make my aches and pains feel better!

What’s also great about this project?! You can throw these pads in the freezer for a mock-ice pack!

If you’d prefer not to add scents to your heating pad, by all means, omit the essential oils/dried herbs and flowers… your heating pad will work just as well and be just as wonderful.

I’m going to be making two heating pads today, each a different size so I can show you a couple options, using both rice and flax seed. One is for our shoulders and neck, so will be long and thin, and will be sewn down the middle for better distribution of the filling, flax seed.

The other will be an everyday type heating pad that can be used really anywhere, and it will be filled with rice.

Lets dive right in!


  • 100% cotton fabric (because you’ll be microwaving these, the fabric must be 100% cotton)
    • For my large heating pad, I used a 14″ x 22″ piece
    • For the smaller one, I used an 8″ x 10″ piece
  • Rice and/or flax seed (I used roughly 3 cups of rice for the small bag and 6 cups of flax seed for the large)
  • Essential oil(s) (e.g. lavender or stress relief mixtures; you can also use dried flowers or herbs if you prefer)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Spoon for mixing
  • Funnel
  • Scissors/rotary cutter
  • Self-healing mat (if using a rotary cutter)
  • Ruler/acrylic ruler
  • Sewing machine and 100% cotton thread
aromatherapy heating pad materials


Step 1. Mix in your essential oils.

1. Add 15-20 drops of your chosen scent to the filling and stir to combine. (Ooohhh! It smells so good!!!)

I recommend letting it still for at least an hour if not more, so the oil dries a bit. It makes for clumpy rice and flax seed if you do it too soon, and it may make filling the heating pads harder.

Step 2. Measure and cut your fabric.

I folded my fabric in half, so cut out a 7″ x 22″ piece and a 4″ x 10″ piece.

I tend to cut out a piece slightly larger than my intended size…

…and then come back with my rotary cutter and acrylic ruler to finish out the job.

If you’re making two like me, repeat with the second piece.

Step 3. Pin and sew.

1. Fold each piece in half longways like a hot dog with right sides together (RST) and pin along the three raw edges.

I’ve marked with a pink pin where I will begin sewing – about 2-3″ from the folded edge, enough to leave an opening to turn the sewn piece right-side out.

This opening will also serve as the hole for your funnel, so before you sew, make sure the funnel will also fit into it.

2. Sew the three raw edges together, starting (or stopping) at your opening. I’m using 1/4″-ish seam allowance (SA) but you can go smaller or larger depending on you personal preference.

Always remember to backstitch when you start and stop, especially since the stitches near the opening will be taking a beating as you turn this piece right-side out and use your funnel to fill the heating pad.

Tip: When making these or any filled item, I tend to use a shorter stitch length than normal (taking it down from 2.5 to 2.0) to ensure a tight hold.

Repeat if you’re making two. 🙂

Did you remember to leave an opening?! Good! So did I! 🙂

3. Trim the corners…

4. …and then turn right-side out.

5. Use the DULL tip of a pair of scissors, a chop stick, or a special turning tool to push out of the corners.


I highly recommend pressing the opening flat. This will make it much easier to stitch it closed in a few steps.

One last thing before we fill. We’re almost there!

If you’re making a long or wide heating pad, I recommend splitting it into two or more “pockets” so the filling can be distributed more evenly, and not rush to one side or the other depending on how you use it.

In my case, I know we’ll be using the large one across our shoulders, so I’m going to sew a seam down the middle, longways, so the filling doesn’t all droop along the bottom.

In order to do this, I marked the center on both short sides…

…and then sewed from the short edge WITHOUT the opening, towards the short edge WITH the opening.

Leave a gap between your center seam and the end seam with the opening, because you have to position your funnel over both pockets to fill. If you sew the center seam all the way to the edge, you won’t be able to fill the side without the opening.

As you can (hopefully!) see in the image below, I left about a 2″ space between the center seam and the edge with the opening.

Step 4. Fill.

1. Place your funnel into the opening, and fill!

How much filling should you use? Well, that is entirely up to you.

I didn’t want mine filled too full or they won’t bend/fold/lay around whatever part of the body they’re being used for.

I suggest stopping at around 3/4 of the way full…

…and then – gently! – laying it flat and over your arm to test it.

Think it needs more? Add more! Think it has too much, take some out (as I had to do).

I ended up filling the small one just over 2/3 full.

Filling the large one was a bit trickier and more time consuming – but trust me, it’s well worth it.

Maneuver the funnel over the far pocket to fill that side. I did two funnel fulls on one side then two funnel fulls on the other so they’d fill up evenly.

I stopped at 2/3 of the way to test how it would lay.

It was perfect! I wanted this one filled less than typical heating pads, because it has to fold/curve around our shoulders and neck easily.

Side note: Did filling this one it take a while? Yes. Did I watch an entire episode of The Resident on Hulu while I was doing it? Yes! Did I make a mess all over the dining room? Also yes!

Step 6. Close the opening.

You can either topstitch the opening shut using a sewing machine, or use your hand stitch of choice – it’s up to you!

I chose to topstitch both of these two new heating pads closed since I was already going to be at my machine working on the big one.

I decided to close the center seam of our new shoulder heating pad, but you don’t have to. Just like many other things with this project, it’s up to you. 🙂

It was a bit weird sewing that seam while holding the heating pad in my lap, but it worked!

All done!!! Time to toss it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes (or the freezer for a couple hours) and enjoy.

Full disclosure, I threwmine in the microwave within seconds of finishing the seam (I left my sewing machine on I was in such a hurry!)

I’m VERY happy to reprt… it’s amazing. 🙂

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