Monday, March 26, 2007

Homemade heating pads, then and now

Well, I feel silly. I just got caught again trying to come up with a snazzy solution where a simple trick would do.

One of my favorite gifts of all time is a tubular pillow made especially for my husband and given to him as a parting act of kindness by a family that was moving out of the area. It's filled with flax seed. You put the pillow in the microwave and zap it for a while, and it's a great heating pad. It keeps warm for a surprisingly long time, and you can take it anywhere.

I've thought about making another, but flax seed doesn't seem to be a common - or inexpensive - item around here. Plus, I wasn't sure which fabrics were safe to put in the microwave.

Then I learned that other people use uncooked rice instead of flax seed for the same purpose. But I still didn't know what type of fabric would be all right. And in the meantime my sewing machine has a few issues...

So... I was at the pharmacy and they had a Healthy Home News newsletter full of all kinds of tips, among them the suggestion that to make a homemade heating pad you can put rice in a sock and tie off the end and zap that in the microwave.

Oh. Of course. Duh. A nice thick one hundred percent cotton athletic sock would not only be safe in the microwave, but that thickness would help prevent burns, I bet. And it's a no-sew solution, too. Such a deal.

So, I just happened to have cleaned out the sock drawer and had a stack of socks that were going to the trash or the thrift store or the rag pile. I grabbed one of those, poured in some rice, tied off the end, zapped it. Presto. Heating pad.

Why I didn't think of this on my own, I don't know. It's obvious, now that somebody mentioned it.

So, shortly after that I was talking on the phone with an older relative, and I told her about it, and she perked up. Oh, Grandma J--- used to do that! she said.

Grandma J. was before the time of microwaves, of course, but also before the time sugar came in paper bags. She used sugar sacks to make pillows filled with rice, which she heated in the oven to use as heating pads to ease the pain of her arthritis. When the family ran short of rice, they poured out the rice, washed it, cooked it, and ate it. Why not?

Hey, in the old days, they knew how to make do.

(I can't believe how often I feel outclassed by my ancestors.)

1 comment:

Anna said...

Grandma knows best, Kathryn! My grandma's quote, "Use it up, wear it out, do with it or do without." That's what kids were taught during the depression, well it's at least what she and her 10 brothers and sisters learned during the depression!