Yarn Break – Making a Natural Microwavable Heating Pad (Corn Sack)

Natural Microwavable Heating Pad How To

This is so much fun to post because I have made A LOT of these puppies! With the arrival of fall, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my favorite cozy accessory for cold days. It’s a “corn sack”.  And no it’s not filled with your dinner time corn on the cob, and you won’t end up with popcorn when you put it in the microwave. 😉 You can find it at feed stores, you know, for animals and livestock. I’ve heard of these corn sacks being called other names as well, like corn bags.

You’ve probably seen something similar in the past, often filled rice or flax. The corn sacks are my favorite, and these bags last FOREVER. It’s kind of embarrassing how old one of mine is ; it’s probably time to pitch it, but my mom made it for me so I will keep it a bit longer. 😉

Corn for heating pad
Magic ingredient – corn!

The one I am going to share with you today turns out to be about eight inches long and about five inches wide.  It is a nice size to put in your bed to warm your toes.  My family also uses it for aches and pains on any part of the body. When I get a headache I put it on my head or over the back of my neck.

You will need:

  • Small amount of cotton fabric ( I like heavier duty cottons, like a duck cloth – less than half a yard)

  • Good fabric scissors

  • Sewing machine (you could hand sew them, they are small enough. 🙂

  • Thread

  • Corn (buy this from a local feed store such as Big R)

  • Pitcher or funnel (Optional to pour the corn into the fabric bag)

  • Measuring Tape

How to Sew It:

Step 1:  Measure out two rectangles 9 inches by 6 inches wide on your cotton fabric.  To keep the lines straight, use a yard stick to draw where you will cut.

Step 2:  Cut out your two rectangles, and face them right sides together. Pin around the edges, leaving space for your sewing machine foot.

Step 3:  Sew around three sides, then sew HALF of the fourth side leaving that last side halfway open. Turn right sides out.

Step 4:  Using a funnel, pitcher, or small container, pour your corn into the bag filling it 2/3 of the way full. Don’t overfill or it won’t lay nicely.

This is the tougher part:

Step 5:  You will now sew along the entire edge of the bag that was partially open. The corn likes to try and come out as you lay the pillow flat to sew it closed. I place pins to hold back the kernels from the edge.

Sew down the entire open edge, from corner to corner.

That’s it!

To Use It:

Heat in the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes.  (I always do mine 2 minutes) You need to be careful not to get it too hot as it can burn you or the actual bag itself. “Microwaves do vary” – there’s my official sounding warning. 🙂

It will put off a slight smell of corn and will be a bit damp, especially in the beginning.

My mom likes to have a little pillow case for hers, but I don’t have pillow cases for mine.

My family’s first corn sack was gifted to us by a family friend who grew up on a farm in Kansas. They would heat the corn over the stove, and then pour it into sacks to warm up their beds at night time.  I love how cozy that sounds, but this is definitely the easier version. 🙂

Kids tend to love these!  This could make a fun and unique stocking stuffer.  🙂


Have you used anything like this? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.


Like easy sewing patterns? You may also like:

How to Make Tea Towel


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    1. Becky, you have just given me an amazing plan for my Christmas little presents…I know I’ll be making several or these “little natural warmers” to give away. I have one someone gave to me some years ago, I have tendinitis on my hands n wrists, it works wonders on me…I will now be able to to share…

    2. I am a chronic migraine sufferer and I have used bags like these for years.
      Only one difference – the ones (3) I bought after trying out the first one, are
      all filled with WHEAT.

      Just thought you would be interested. I’ve used the same one for a couple
      of years at least. The ones I bought also have a cover that has a slit in the
      middle, so you can remove the ‘wheat bag’ and launder the outer bag as needed.
      I bought mine at our local hospital gift shop, they are made by volunteers and
      the money goes to improve the ‘small’ things in our local hospital.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with these bags Margaret. I’d love to try to make a wheat bag someday.

  1. I honestly can’t imagine the winter without a corn sack. My last corn sack that I used for years finally bit the dust a few weeks ago so I am now winging it with a heat wrap from a store that is just not equal to the good old fashioned corn sacks you make Jessica! I recommend making more than one so they can share the warmth with family, otherwise they may find theirs missing!!!

  2. I wish I had seen this a couple of weeks ago. I just bought pads for $45 each of microbeads. I have been making pads of either lavender or rice for years but the smell got to me. Corn will make me think of growing up in Iowa. My body can sometimes use two at a time. Can’t wait to try it.

    1. Yes, do try them and let me know what you think. The pads do smell a bit like corn, but it’s kind of a comforting smell to me for somereason. If you’re from Iowa I bet you would like it for sure. I didn’t know you could buy them with microbeads. Very interesting!

  3. Thank you, Jessica, for this timely pattern. I just had my right hand operated on for Trigger Finger and having the other one done soon for Trigger and Carpel Tunnel. This morning while my hands were in hot water they worked much better, so I thought I would check the local Drug Mart to see if there was a small heating pad available. I saw a reference to your site on Knitting Paradise this A.M. I have a 5″x3″ terry covered sponge-type “hand grasp” with an elastic band sewed into the short-side seams that goes over the back of the hand to hold it on. Your idea translated to this item sounds like a winner. I sleep grasping mine to keep my hand from seizing and the heat will be an extra dividend.

    1. Oh my, Beverly. I sure hope this next surgery goes well for you. I can’t imagine going through something like that with both hands! This would be a great remedy if heat seems to help them. I hooe you can get one made or find something like it at the store. Best of luck to you, and I hope your hands heal up quickly.

    1. Between one to two minutes, Mary. It is personal preference and I guess all microwaves are different. Test it out and see how you like it. The warmer you get it to start, the longer it lasts. However, they will burn if too hot, so be careful to keep it at a comfortable temp. I usually do mine about two minutes. 🙂

      1. I have a couple of these, mine are filled with lentils. Works great. I had a sty not too long ago and needed a heat pad for my eye. Guess what I used? You bet, and it worked great.

  4. I found one of these at a craft fair a few years back, bought it for my mother. She and I both love it. Her’s has an inner bag that holds the corn and a velcro closing on one end of the outside bag. I really think I will try to make one now! Thanks for your directions-I am not a seamstress but I think I can manage hand sewing.

  5. I have been making these for years out of feed corn and you’re right, they are the best and do last for years! They make great gifts too! Thanks for sharing!

  6. These are also great to heat up in the AM and take with you in the car until it gets warm. I’ve made smaller ones for the kids to use while waiting on the bus.

    1. I’ve never tried, but there is a slight smell of corn, so I’m not sure if the lavender might be overpowered. 🙂

  7. I have had one for years. It is made out of a man’s sock, it is nice for your neck, or
    anywhere else that needs a little pain relief. Mine is filled with rice, not too filled
    and tied with a knot at the end of the sock. You could sew it if wanted. It is not
    pretty but effective. Heat in microwave for two minutes.

  8. I love these. I have one that my mom gave me (it’s been repackaged once) which is my favorite. It’s about the size of yours, maybe a bit larger. In addition I have three other sizes. One is larger with a dream separating it into two parts. Heat it, fold it in half and insert it into its tube shaped sleeve and you have a heated muff. I use them all the time and absolutely love the corn bags best. I like the corn smell. You might mention that one could be kept in the freezer for when you want cold therapy. These are the best! I, like your mom like the pillow case as it keeps the bag cleaner longer. Thanks for sharing the tutorial. One question, do you have to clean the corn before using it?

    1. I make sure there are no “particles” or pieces of hay pellets or feed in the corn. Sometimes you see this….other than that, I don’t do anything to especially “clean” the corn. Thanks for commenting and telling us about how you have used them. 🙂

    2. Personally, I shake the corn in a colander, out in the yard, to remove most of the dust , Then i pull out any stones or odd bits of chaff or any moldy-looking corn kernels. I rinse the corn in a colander and dry in a warm oven on cookie sheets. It adds to the time it takes to make the bags, but I don’t like the look of the dusty corn before I rinse it.

      We use 8 by 10 inch finished bags with 4 cups of corn and little cotton pillow cases. Use hot or freeze in freezer for injuries. We love them, and so do our friends.

      1. This worked! Thanks so much. My wife received one when she was going through chemo and it brought a lot of relief. We decided to make them and give out to the rest of the patients in our chemo group, but the first batch smelled horrible…. sort of like hugging a pig…. Luckily we hadn’t given them away yet, so we took them apart, followed your advice and the second time worked great. Thanks so much for the idea of rinsing and baking them. Reading through these comments we’ll try to put some rosemary or lavender in another batch too.

  9. Great idea. I did a show last week and people asked about these. All I had were the bean bags for the toss game.
    One woodworker had a sore hand from too much carving. He bought the set of corn bags and went into the kitchen and tossed two in their microwave for 1.5 minutes. He sat there smiling the rest of the show. He had one on top of his hand and one on his knee under the wrist.

  10. Corn bags make great gifts for all ages.
    Earaches, and bruises for little ones; sports bruises for teenagers; sore backs for middleagers and for all the oldies with their “itisis”

    I make rice bags several different sizes for Hospice patients.

  11. Fall is a good time to make these as you can find bags of deer corn everywhere. Have made a bunch of these. Wouldn’t be without them!

  12. Would Squirrel Corn work?? I would love to make this for my daycare staff to fend off the chill of the day.

    1. If it is the dry, hard corn that you get at the feed store, it is probably the same thing. So you could give it a try!

  13. I live in South Africa & have never heard of using corn, but what a great idea. Thank you for sharing

  14. I use one of these in my dogs bed. He is a Boston Terrier so he has short hair. I put it under his blanket. He loves it.

  15. Here in New Zealand they are commonly filled with wheat purchased from a grain store and heat treated before use. Essential oils are sometimes added – in small quantities though as it can be very overpowering.
    My family have several and I use mine regularly as I have ongoing bowel and kidney stone problems that can cause a lot of pain. Wouldn’t be without them and so much better than conventional “hot water bottles”. My grand-daughter likes to use hers as a “cuddly” at bedtime if she is feeling cold or a little low in spirit.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing yet another great way to make these. All the way from Australia!

  16. My MIL gave us some years ago. We love them! My daughter uses them for menstrual cramps. They are very comforting and safe to sleep with, as opposed to an electric heating pad.

  17. I started out making the corn bags and also made herbal rice bags. People seemed to like them better. I put rice, flax seed, and several dried herbs. Usually it is rosemary, chamomile, and red clover. Each one has a medicinal purpose and smell so wonderful when heated. I do craft shows and have sold a ton of them. They do sell better if you can heat them up. Bother the herbal rice bags and the corn bags can also be frozen and used as an ice pack. I usually put them in a zip lock back if I put them in the freezer. Corn or rice, the heat is wonderful for sore aching muscles and bones!

    1. I’m going to have to look for red clover. Sounds lovely – I’ve never heard of it. Thanks for sharing!

  18. In the UK we make ‘Wheat bags’ – identical but we stuff them with wheat from the animal stores. I have also added lavender essence to some of mine and when we reheat them we suggest that half an egg cup of water is put by the side of the bag in the microwave and the wheat ingests the water through vapour and that stops it from having a burning smell an brings out the essence smell too

  19. I have made these several times and fill socks with rice. They aren’t nearly as pretty but they do work well. I like to gift them to expecting mothers for low back pain. I use mine in the microwave or the freezer.

  20. I have chicken grains with cracked corn, wonder if that would work or do you recommend the whole kernel corns

  21. Hi, Just signed up for your newsletter and got the pattern for the Corn Sacks.
    I’ve been making something similar for years, but I use Millet and get it at a Feed Store as well.
    The idea is exactly the same, and the Millet gives off a nice moist heat for about 1/2 hour and then it just stays warm.
    You can also find Millet in Bulk Food stores if you’re not near a Feed Store.
    Just wanted to share. Thanks for letting me sign up.

  22. I know we had cold feet in bed when I was a kid growing up in Missouri, in the winter. Good idea for those that still do live there.

  23. Hi Jessica,

    I love all of your work you post! You give me lots of new ideas thank you! I was wondering where do you get your duck cloth? I live in Canada and I can only find it in beige! Can I use anything else?

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