Nothing can soothe you more than the blissful warmth of a hot compress, especially after a long and tiring day. A hot compress can almost magically relieve all kinds of aches and pains. The heat penetrates deep into the tissues of your body, increasing the blood flow in the area and relaxing tight muscles.
For those who know what that feels like, a hot compress can truly be a blessing for menstrual cramps. A hot compress can also come handy to get rid of muscle spasms, cramps, and joint pain. There are also a number of herbal compresses made with medicinal herbs that not only provide physical relief but can also stimulate your organs and calm your senses.
It is quite simple to make a hot compress on your own using stuff you probably already have in your pantry.
However, before planning to make and use a hot compress make sure that the application of a hot compress best treats your pain or medical issue. There are times when a cold compress works better than a hot one. Also, be careful to take proper safety precautions to protect yourself from potential burns.
If a warm compress is all you need, here are the 5 ways that show you how to make a warm compress at home.
- Method 1: Bag
- # Rice Bag
- # Salt Bag
- # Water Bag
- # Warm Cloth
- Method 2: Steamed Warm Compress
- Method 3: Hot Spoon
- Method 4: Used Tea Bags (Eyes)
- Method 5: Herbal Compresses
- Tips for making warm compress at home
Method 1: Bag
# Rice Bag
Rice grains can retain heat for a longer period of time and can, therefore be used to make an easy and hassle-free hot compress, especially handy for back pain. You can either use a cloth bag or (even better) an old clean sock.
Single Step Method: Fill a sock with rice, heat it, and use
- Fill up 2/3 of an old sock with dry rice. Either secure the open end by tying a knot or pull another sock over the open end.
- Place the rice bag in a microwave oven and heat for 2 minutes.
- Retrieve it from the microwave and place it over your sore muscle or joint. Rice bags serve well, particularly, for neck and shoulder blade.
# Salt Bag
- Sea salt – 1 to 2 cups (depending on how big the affected area is)
- Clean cotton cloth/handkerchief
Single-Step Method: Bundle up salt in a cloth and use it as warm compress
- Spread out a piece of cloth or handkerchief on a flat surface.
- Put 1 cup of sea salt in the center of the cloth.
- Bundle it up and secure it tightly with a string or rubber band. Make sure that the seal is tight so that the hot salt does not escape.
- Heat it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Place it on the side of the aching tooth or ear or any other muscle that aches or feels stiff.
# Water Bag
Nothing can replace the good old fashioned hot water bag. In a pinch, if you do not have the traditional polyester bag; help yourself with a makeshift hot water bag using a Ziploc baggie.
Single-Step Method: Heat water in a Ziploc bag
- Fill half of a medium-sized Ziploc bag with water.
- Seal the bag and heat it in the microwave for 1 minute.
- Let stand in the microwave for 1 minute.
- Place the bag on the affected area to provide instant warmth.
# Warm Cloth
If you want the lingering heat of a wet hot compress but want to avoid the mess, here is a quick fix. Just use a wet towel, microwave it, and place it inside a Ziploc bag and use as you would a wet compress.
- Water – 2 cups
- Flannel cloth
- Small Ziploc bag
Step 1. Wet the flannel cloth and place it in a Ziploc bag
- Submerge a flannel cloth completely in water.
- Wring out the excess water and fold it small enough to fit in the Ziploc bag.
- Place it inside the Ziploc bag but do not seal the bag.
Step 2. Heat the bag and use
- Put the Ziploc bag inside the microwave oven and heat it for 1 minute on high heat.
- Retrieve the bag and place it over the aching muscle or joint to soothe the pain. Reheat the bag as needed.
Method 2: Steamed Warm Compress
There has been a constant debate on wet heat over dry heat. Both have their pros and cons. However, wet heat ensures deeper penetration into the tissues at the same temperature as dry heat and offers hydration to the affected area as well. If you don’t mind the mess of wet heat, there are two ways to do so. You can either use plain water or add in some salt if you have a sore muscle.
# Warm Towel
Single Step Method: Soak a towel in warm water and use
- Soak a towel completely in hot water.
- Squeeze out the excess water and place the towel over the sore muscle.
- Once the towel cools off, repeat the soak process. Continue doing so until you get relief.
# Warm Water & Epsom Salt
- Flannel cloth
- Hot water – 2 cups
- Epsom salt (reduces swelling) – 1 tablespoon
Single-Step Method: Soak a flannel cloth in Epsom salt solution and use
- Add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt to 2 cups of hot water.
- Mix well until the salt dissolves completely.
- Soak a flannel cloth in the saline solution and wring out the excess water.
- Place the warm cloth over the aching muscle or joint and allow the tissues to absorb all the heat.
- Once the cloth cools off, soak it in the solution again. Repeat until you are relieved from your pain.
You can also use Epsom salt to make magnesium oil at home and can help if you frequently suffer from joint and muscle pain.
Method 3: Hot Spoon
Using a warm metal spoon is the quickest way to make a warm compress. It can especially be used to soothe tired eyes or get rid of a mosquito bite.
Single-Step Method: Place a warm spoon over your eye
- Place a metal spoon in 1 cup of hot water for 2 minutes. You can also use multiple spoons to have a steady supply of them ready.
- Check if the temperature is to your liking.
- Place the spoon over your closed eye and hold in place until it cools off.
- Replace the spoon with a warm one, repeat until you get relief.
Method 4: Used Tea Bags (Eyes)
Both green tea and black tea are rich in tannins and have astringent properties. Placing a wet tea bag over your eye can take away swelling and redness.
Single-Step Method: Hold a used tea bag over your eye
- Steep a tea bag in 1 cup of hot water for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag and squeeze out the excess water.
- Place the warm teabag over your eye and keep in place for about 10 minutes, or until it cools down.
Method 5: Herbal Compresses
Quite popular in the Thai culture, herbal pouches are prized for soothing muscles and stimulating vital organs and the senses. These herbal compresses are made with a selection of therapeutic herbs tied up tightly in a muslin cloth. Here are the two recipes you can try to make a warm compress at home, while also reaping the benefits of different pain-relieving herbs and essential oils.
# Rice Poultice
- Flannel cloth
- Uncooked rice (retains heat) – 1 cup
- Sandalwood powder (relaxes and calms muscles) – 2 teaspoons
- Chamomile tea (anti-inflammatory) – 2 teaspoons
- Lemon zest (anti-bacterial) – 1 teaspoon
- Ginger powder (relieves congestion and increases blood circulation) – 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder (antiseptic) – 1 teaspoon
Step 1. Mix all the herbs in the rice
- Place 1 cup of uncooked rice in a bowl.
- Add 1 teaspoon of ginger powder, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
Step 2. Add sandalwood and chamomile
- Add 2 teaspoons each of sandalwood powder and chamomile tea to the rice.
- Mix the ingredients well.
Step 3. Bundle it up and microwave to use
- Spread out a flannel cloth over a flat surface.
- Place the mix in the center of the cloth and bundle it up tightly.
- Secure the bundle with a rubber band or ribbon.
- Heat the pouch in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Take it out and apply gently to the affected area in circular and rolling movements.
# Ginger and Lemon
- Grated ginger (relieves congestion and increases blood circulation) – ½ cup
- Lemon zest (anti-bacterial) – 1 tablespoon
- Sandalwood powder (relaxes and calms muscles) – ½ tablespoon
- Sea salt (retains heat) – ½ tablespoon
- Common salt (retains heat) – ½ tablespoon
- Eucalyptus essential oil (anti-spasmodic)– 3 to 4 drops
- Lemongrass essential oil (relieves muscle pain) – 3 to 4 drops
Step 1. Mix all the herbs in a bowl
- Take ½ cup of grated ginger in a bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
- Add ½ tablespoon of sandalwood powder as well.
- Add a ½ tablespoon each of sea salt and common salt.
Step 2. Add the essential oils
- Add 3 to 4 drops of lemongrass and eucalyptus essential oil.
- Mix all the ingredients well using a spoon.
Step 3. Bundle up and heat it in the microwave
- Spread out a muslin or natural fiber cloth.
- Place the herb mix in the center of the cloth and bundle it up.
- Secure it with a wool or natural fiber thread and heat it in the microwave for 1 minute.
- Press it gently against the aching muscle rolling in small circular motions to alleviate the pain and help you feel calm and relaxed.
Tips for making warm compress at home
- Do a patch test with herbs compresses and any other treatment you have not used before, to determine if a reaction may occur. If the reaction does not clear up quickly consult your physician without delay.
- Don’t leave the compress resting on one area for too long; just touch and press firmly, then lift and move, or roll it around to a different spot.
- The herbal compress can be used 3 to 4 times. Store in the refrigerator after every use to keep it fresh for next time.
Summary of How to Make Warm Compress
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