Hot and cold packs are essential feel better items. I always have an icepack in the fridge for acute injuries, a cold pack in the fridge for migraine attacks and a hot pack ready to soothe chronic pain and muscles stiffness. Commercial options are not always the best choice when looking for an ecofriendly option – when purchasing a dual use pack look for products that use the same ingredients as suggested below.
Casing: Use sustainably sourced bamboo fabric – pick up some bamboo fabric or use bamboo fabric washtowels. Bamboo is a soft, durable and breathable fabric. Alternatively, use recycled cotton from old clothes. We recommend using an old bamboo fabric sock to avoid sewing.
Filling: Rice is probably the most used filling, but rice is not the most environmentally friendly choice. Try buckwheat instead. It can be grown locally, even in your vegetable patch if you have one, here’s how.
Fragrance: The easiest fragrance to add is a few sprigs of lavender or Rosemary from the garden/kitchen herb pots. If you don’t grow your own, a few drops of essential oil or some dried herbal or fruit tea leaves also do the trick.
Put it all together. To sew your own, look at our quick instructions. My favourite method is to mix the filling and fragrance, stuff it into an old sock and knot the top. The sock choice has three things going for it: One, it is easy and cost-effective to source the materials. Two, it’s easy to make and requires little skill, no expert knowledge and the hardest part is tying the knot. Three, it produces an ergonomic product – little socks for little kids can make the perfect hot pack for children’s injuries whilst knee high socks make brilliant neck wraps.
I usually have at least three – one in the freezer, one in the fridge and one ready to pop into the microwave, on a cast iron cooker or in my travel bag. During the colder months, I usually put mine on the towel radiator in the bathroom to heat it up.
When to ice and when to heat
Ice is ideal for up to 48-72 hours after an acute injury. It numbs pain, reduces swelling and eases inflammation. It is also helpful for headaches and many migraineurs find a cold pack on the forehead very soothing – although I prefer a fridge rather than a freezer pack for migraine attacks.
Heat should not be applied on acute injuries – its increases blood flow, relaxes muscle tension and reduces chronic pain caused by tight and stiff muscles. Use a heatpack for old injuries, chronic pain and to easy stiffness and tension.