A good heating pad may decrease pain intenisty, stress, and discomfort. A bad one can make you mental. Heck, a bad heating pad could catch fire and kill you.
Let me quickly elaborate.
A low-quality heating pad could bring you frustration if it doesn’t retain heat for long enough, if it doesn’t get warm enough, or if it stops working shortly after you’ve purchased it. A microwavable pad could burst open and make a mess all over your kitchen, while a problem with the wires of an electric pad could cause all sorts of trouble, including skin burns, house fires, and dead.
We, at Battle the Pain, know about most of those problems from firsthand experience. Here, we will tell you the best (and the worst) pads, and what gives them an edge (or what exacerbates them).
This Post Features the Following:
Since people use heat therapy for a variety of objectives, on various muscular organs, the best heating pad for one person may be useless to another. Therefore, we’ve included a diversity of heating pads which all differ in features, shapes, and sizes. Each pad is best in (at least) one category.
So, let’s get on with our all-star heating pad team.
Best Heating Pads – Preview Table
Nature Creation – Lumbar Herbal
Size: 12 in x 8.5 in
Type: Microwavable, Herbal
Pure Enrichment – PureRelief XL
Size: 23.5 in x 12 in
Happy Wraps – Herbal Neck Wrap & Eye Lavender Pillow
Size: 8.5 in x 4 in (Eye Pad)
Type: Microwavable, Herbal
Sacksy Thyme – The Original Sack
Size: 12 in x 7.5 in
Type: Microwavable, Herbal
Mother Earth Pillows – Large Heartbeat Pillow
Size: 13 in sides
Type: Microwavable, Herbal
Nature Creation’s Lumbar Herbal Pack provides both heat and aromatherapy. It contains chamomile, cinnamon, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, yarrow, white willow, wheat, and flaxseed, which is the ingridient that retains the heat. As long as you aren’t allergic to any of those herbs, this pad will lead you to new levels of relaxation. It is the best-scented heating pad on our list.
In case you aren’t into the herbal scent, Nature Creation carries an unscented version of this pad, which contains only flaxseed and wheat – here. If you are very smell-sensitive, you may find the scent of the herbal heating pads a little overwhelming.
To use the Lumbar Herbal, simply microwave for a minute and 30 seconds, as recommended by the manufacturer. This would give you about 30 minutes of continuous, though decreasing, heat (if used in room temperature conditions). The heating pad can also be used for moist heat. For such use, gently apply a wet sponge to the heating pad before warming it up. If the contents get wet, they will rot and smell terrible.
The Lumbar Herbal pad is 12 inches wide and 8.5 inches long. This makes it big enough to cover most bellies or lower backs out there. In addition, it weighs 2.3 pounds, which makes it heavy enough to apply a slight amount of pressure on your stomach when you’re using it. This is extra helpful if you plan to use your heating pad for period cramps, as applying a slight amount of pressure is believed to relieve cramp pain.
The Lumbar Herbal’s filling is compartmentalized into three horizontally aligned stripes, which allows it to keep its heat evenly distributed.
All Nature Creations heating pads and wraps are 100% made in the USA.
Our Experience With The Manufacturer
When we decided to purchase a Lumbar Herbal heating pad, we luckily noticed that Nature Creation is located in LA, where we live. It was 1pm, and we got excited by the possibility of having the pad before the weekend, so we called and asked if we could pick it up. When they heard our enthusiasm, Nature Creation offered to deliver it the same day and we agreed. Sure enough, two hours later a friendly guy brought it to our door. They had even included a complimentary, mini heart pillow.
24 in. x 12 in
Around 10 minutes
|6 heat settings|
To be able to feel the full temperature of each setting, you would have to apply a considerable pressure distributed evenly throughout the heating pad. Since that’s pretty inconvenient, you can simply cover yourself with a blanket while using the pad. This makes it feel considerably hotter. (Manufacturer does not recommend sitting or lying on top of the pad).
The PureRelief XL is the best electric heating pad online, in terms of price per qualty. It’s more reliable and less expensive than its only real rival – the 12” x 24” Sunbeam, and it’s currently the most popular pad on Amazon.
The PureRelief has a 9ft. cord and a digital controller, which allows you to pick from 6 heat settings. The pad also has a moist heat option, which many find to be more effective than dry heat. In addition, there’s a two-hour auto shut-off setting. Since some people fall asleep while using a heating pad, we recommend avoiding electric heating pads that have no auto shut off. In any case, we should note that falling asleep with your heating pad on is a terrible idea.
As we already mentioned, you could also use this pad for moist heat. To do so, carefully pat the surface of the PureRelief with a wet sponge before plugging it in. Be sure that the pad and control connectors are completely dry before establishing electrical connection, otherwise, you may get electrocuted.
This heating pad is not intended to be laid or sat upon. By doing so you may damage the product, or even worse – put your safety at risk, in case a naked wire has escaped the PureRelief’s cover. The softcover is removable and machine washable. The bottom of the cover is polyester and the top is micro mink. The pad comes with a storage bag and an impressive 5-year warranty.
The PureRelief’s cover is 12” wide and 24” long, however, only about 10” x 21” actually heats up. The part that doesn’t heat up is just the outside border of the pad. Sometimes, new electric heating pads can give off an unpleasant chemical-like smell while heating. The PureRelief is no exception. If that happens to you, run it a couple of times on a low (to a medium) setting and let it run its course. In most cases, this makes the smell go away. If it doesn’t, contact the seller and take advantage of your 5-year warranty!
Despite the word “pillow” in the title, the Happy Wraps Eye Pillow qualifies as a heating pad just as much as any other pad on this list. It’s microwavable and it contains flaxseed and lavender. It’s the best eye pad sold online. This makes it a necessity for those of us who constantly have dry eyes because flaxseed heat therapy is believed to help dry eye conditions, as this study shows. In addition, lavender scent is believed to reduce stress levels, according tothis trial.
The Herbal Neck Wrap takes no step back to the Eye Pillow. It contains chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, lemongrass, cinnamon, lavender, white willow, yarrow, saw palmetto, yellow dock root, valerian, and flaxseed. The only downside of the neck wrap is that its filling isn’t compartmentalized and it tends to mainly collect on one side.
To use moist heat with your eye pillow or neck wrap, Happy Wraps recommends sprinkling a little bit of water prior to microwaving. Recommended microwave time is 30 seconds. That will give you about 10 minutes of decreasing heat. If you want to use your eye and/or neck pillow for another 10 minutes, microwave it again for no longer than 10 seconds. The eye pillow is made from polyester satin and weighs about half a pound.
Happy Wraps is an American manufacturer that has been producing heatings pads for over 25 years. Each eye pillow comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Amongst our team, The Original Sack unanimously won the best-named heating pad award.
It’s microwavable and it contains flaxseed, dried cherry pits, and Sacksy Thyme’s herbal blend of lavender, eucalyptus, lemon verbena and peppermint. If you don’t want the herbal smell, you can order the unscented version of this pad. The unscented version contains only flaxseed and dried cherry pits, which still has a very mild scent. If you want to get only one of the herbs from the blend, you have the option to do so when purchasing from the manufacturer’s website.
The Original Sack contains cherry pits, as we already established. Therefore, when you run it through your fingers or quickly flip it over as you’re holding it vertically, it sounds a bit like a rain stick. This was a nice throwback for all of us at Battle the Pain. It was also quite distracting for the first few days after we purchased it, as we played with it more than we used it for heat therapy. We have kept the exact same attention span we had as kids, I suppose.
The Original Sack is 13” wide and 7.5” long and weighs about two pounds and its cover is 100% cotton. Sacksy Thyme recommends 90 seconds in the microwave, with additional 15-20 second intervals, if necessary. They advise keeping total microwaving time under two minutes. For moist heat, mist a little water on the pad before microwaving. Do so carefully and make sure no water penetrates the pad, as that may cause the filling to rot and smell horrific.
All Sacksy Thyme products are made in the U.S. and all of the fillings of their products are domestically grown. They offer a 30-day money back guarantee on all of their products.
Mother Earth Pillows are an underdog in this list. Thankfully, one of our team members is from St. Louis, which is around 25 minutes away from where Mother Earth Pillows are located. Otherwise, the rest of us at Battle the Pain would have never known about them.
The Large Heartbeat Pillow comes in 13 different fabric designs, our favorite of which is the Purple Magnolia. It’s our humble opinion that the Purple Magnolia Heartbeat Pillow is the best-looking pad out there.
The Heartbeat Pillow contains golden flaxseed and a blend of natural herbs, which is optional. Mother Earth Pillows do not seem to disclose what their herbal blend contains.
The fact the Heartbeat Pillow is heart-shaped isn’t only an attempt to make it look cute. It actually makes the Heartbeat Pillow the best one for period cramps relief. That’s because the pointy end of the heart comes down, below the area of your uterus, without laying on your upper thighs or pelvic bone. Thus, all the of heat, weight (which is considerably more than the other heading pads) and pressure of the Heartbeat Pillow concentrate on the muscles of your lower abdomen for maximum efficiency in menstrual cramp relief.
The heart shape also makes the Heartbeat pillow convenient to use as a neck heating pad. You can lay on it and use it as a pillow, having the pointy end of the pad go towards your butt while wrapping the round ends around your neck. It’s also big enough to cover your thighs, knees, chest, and lower back.
Using a Heating Pad – Safety Guidelines and Tips
We recommend that you consult with your physician, before using heat therapy. Regardless, here are some safety guidelines (from the University of Cinncinati) on the matter.
- Don’t Burn Yourself:
Always read and follow the directions written on the box of each heating pad. If your heating pad is microwavable, we (Battle the Pain) advise you to microwave it for 15-30 seconds less than the heating duration recommended by the manufacturer. Do this, at least the first time you use your microwavable pad, and determine if it feels hot enough for you. This minor precaution is worth it because the microwave that the manufacturers used to test their products could be different than the microwave you have at home. Your microwave could also be operating at a higher setting (more wattage) than the manufacturers’. One of the very few guarantees in life is – if a microwavable heating pad bursts open from overheating, the flax seed in it will end up all over your kitchen.
- Don’t Use Heat if: You are receiving a radiation treatment on your skin The area you want to heat up is an open wound (it’s bleeding) Your skin sensitivity in the desired area is abnormal It’s been less than 24 hours (although many other sources claim 48-72 hours) following a new injury.
For the initial 72-hour window after a fresh injury, most credible sources recommend ice, especially if there’s is a swelling and inflammation.
- Don’t use heat and topical products containing menthol simultaneously – Examples of topical products (gels, creams, sprays), in which menthol could be found are: Vicks, Ben Gay or Icy Host.
- Don’t use a heating pad if you are using (or are near to) an oxygen tank
- Don’t fall asleep on your heating pad
As the University of Cinncinati article points out, heat increases with pressure. Your heating will likely increase enough to cause skin burns, especially if you have an electric heating pad. That’s the main reason why electric heating pads are a minority in our list of the best heating pads online.
- Don’t applying heat to your body for longer than 20 minutes at a time
Applying heat or ice for long periods of time can cause tissue damage (and frostbite). Not to mention that using a heating pad for longer than 20 minutes at a time, typically does not result in additional health benefits (source).