How Do I Heat Up a Microwavable Heating Pad?
- Always place your microwavable heating pad on a clean, dry plate to microwave. Never place your heat pad directly inside your microwave.
- Do not allow the wrap's fabric to come in contact with any oil inside or outside your microwave.
- Do not overheat. Heat and use only as directed. Allow your wrap to cool to room temperature between heating cycles.
While this article is written specifically for the Huggaroo microwavable heating pads, the general principles discussed here apply to all other brands of microwavable heating pads and wraps sold today. So, if you have such a product (even if it is not a Huggaroo), please read on. This detailed article will help you understand how to heat and care for your wrap so that you can enjoy it for a long time and avoid accidents. If you follow our directions, your Huggaroo microwavable wrap will look and function like new for years to come.
Here again are the most important points to remember:
- Do not allow your heating pad's fabric to come in contact with any oil, grease, or food left behind in your microwave from prior cooking (popcorn, melting of butter, etc).
- Always place your heating pad on a clean, dry plate prior to placing it in your microwave. Make sure that the pad does not brush against the walls or ceiling of your microwave, while spinning in your microwave. The carousel must be spinning throughout the heating cycle.
- Do not overheat your pad. If you do not know the power rating of your microwave, start with the shortest recommended heating time. If the pad is not warm enough for you, add 30 seconds to the next heating cycle. With some experimentation, you will get to the temperature you desire. Please allow the wrap to cool off to room temperature between heating cycles.
- Do not submerge your heating pad in water. If the fabric gets soiled, spot clean it and allow it to dry completely prior to use.
That’s it! That's all you really need to know. Once you figure out the optimal heating period for your specific microwave, you just put your heat pad on a clean, dry plate and zap it in your microwave for that length of time. Easy breezy!
Time to delve into the details
For the remainder of this article, we will elaborate on the above points one at a time so you will understand why they are necessary and important.
"But my microwavable is really clean", you might say. That's great - well done! Ours looks clean too but we do use it to make popcorn and melt butter so, to be safe, we always use a clean, dry plate to heat our microwavable wraps. Because of that, we have never, ever had a fabric burn. And we have microwaved our wraps thousands of times over more than 3 years. If you have ever made popcorn, cooked anything or melted butter in your microwave, chances are that small amounts of oil are left behind on your microwave's carousel, walls, or ceiling. These oil droplets may be transparent and difficult or impossible for you to see. Yet, they are there and literally waiting for fabric to soak them up.
If you place your microwavable heating pad directly inside your microwave (without using a clean, dry plate), your wrap's fabric will absorb any oil that is present. The soiled spot would heat up to a much greater degree than the rest of your wrap and this would result in a fabric burn.
In our experience, that is the most common cause of fabric burn.
The good news is that this is preventable. Just follow our directions above and your heating pad will look and work as new for many years. We have literally heated our prototype and first generation microwavable heating pads hundreds of times over 2 years and they still look and function like new. Even the aromatherapy is still noticeably present!
Other causes of overheating
There are a few other causes of overheating:
- not allowing the pad to cool to room temperature between heating cycles
- heating the pad for too long
- heating the pad while the fabric is very wet (after a spot cleaning)
- defective microwave.
It turns out that some microwaves, especially older microwaves, heat up unevenly and create “hot spots”. For that reason, we recommend that the carousel should be spinning throughout the heating cycle. If your microwave does not have a spinning carousel and creates such “hot spots”, a small area of your heating pad will be overheated and may develop a fabric burn.
How can I prevent my heating pad from contacting the walls or ceiling of my microwave?
To prevent your heating pad from brushing against your microwave’s walls or ceiling during the heating cycle, your microwave must be large enough. This is more of a concern for the Huggaroo Neck Heating Pads, which are quite large. To be able to safely heat these models, your microwave must be at least 10 inches deep and 6 inches tall on the inside. If it is any smaller, you won’t be able to fit a plate with the Huggaroo Neck Wrap Heating Pad in your microwave. The smallest plate that you can use is a 9 inch salad plate. We have measured and it turns out that when folded on top of a 9 inch diameter salad plate, the Huggaroo Neck and Shoulder Microwavable Heat Pack overhangs over the rim of the plate just a little bit and the plate plus wrap measure about 5 inches in height. So, if your microwave is any smaller than that, there simply isn’t a safe way to heat your Huggaroo Neck and Shoulder Heating Pad without it being placed directly on the microwave carousel or brushing against the walls or ceiling of your microwave oven.
Discovering the optimal heating time for your microwave
If you are wondering why we can’t just tell you for how long to microwave your heating pad, here is the reason: consumer microwaves vary dramatically in their power output - from 300W to over 1,200W. As a result, the optimal heating time varies significantly from one microwave oven to another. For example, if your oven’s power rating is 1,200W (and your oven is brand new), the optimal heating time for your Huggaroo Neck and Shoulder Microwavable Heating Pad would be 1 minute and 30 seconds. On the other hand, if you have a brand new 400W oven, you'd have to heat your wrap for the maximum heating time of 4 minutes to get it hot. Yes, that is more than 2 times longer!
Now, you may be wondering why I mentioned the oven’s ages in the above examples. The reason is this: as microwaves age, their power gradually dwindles down. The rate of this power decrease varies quite a bit; it is not simply a function of the oven’s age but depends on the oven’s use. So, if you have a 1,500W oven, which is 10 years old, its power output may be only 1,100W today.
All of this makes it impossible to recommend a single heating time, which works for everyone. The use of a microwavable heating pad requires some experimentation on part of the consumer. The safest and most effective way to determine the optimal heating time for your product and your specific microwave oven is to:
- Always start with the shortest recommended heating time the very first time you use your heating pad - play it safely!
- If the heating pad is not hot enough, allow it to cool to room temperature, then add 30 seconds to the next heating cycle.
- If still not hot enough, allow the pad to cool to room temperature, then add 30 more seconds to the next heating cycle.
- Do not exceed the maximum recommended heating time.
So, as a way of example, the Huggaroo neck wrap microwavable heating pads come with the following instructions: heat the wrap for 1 minute and 30 seconds the very first time. If not hot enough, try 2:00, then 2:30, then 3:00, then 3:30, then 4:00 (max heating time). Allow the wrap to cool off to room temperature between heating cycles. This last detail is important - the starting point has to be room temperature.
How do microwavable heating pads compare to electric heating pads?
Microwavable heating pads have many advantages over electric heating pads:
- They are cordless and can be enjoyed anywhere (even in your car)
- They heat up quickly
- The provide more intense, deep, penetrating heat
Microwavable heating pads provide soothing heat therapy and effective, instant pain relief. They can be used to relieve and soothe your neck pain, back pain, muscle aches and tension, muscle spasms, or to alleviate cramps. They can relieve painful or stiff joints in patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Potential disadvantages, when compared to electric heating pads, include:
- Large microwavable heating pads are heavier than their electric counterparts.
- Electric heating pads can remain warm for as long as they are plugged in; microwavable heating pads dissipate their heat into the environment and cool off with time.
What to expect from a microwavable heating pad
When optimally heated, the Huggaroo Neck and Shoulder Microwaveable Heating Pad provides deep heat for 10-15 minutes, followed by soothing warmth for another 10-15 minutes. With a little bit of experimentation, you too can achieve these results. Just remember to be safe - always start with the shortest recommended heating time and add time to subsequent heating cycles, until you reach the temperature, which feels best to you.
Of course, the length of time the pad will remain hot depends on how much it was heated and the temperature of your dwelling. A microwavable neck wrap will remain warm significantly longer if worn outside in Memphis, TN in June, then on a patio in Detroit, MI in November.
The Huggaroo Microwavable Heating Pad for Headaches with Aromatherapy is worn over the eyes and sinuses. For this reason, please do not use it hot. This heating pad is intended to be used warm, not hot.
Using a microwavable heating pad as a cold compress
All Huggaroo Microwavable Heating Pads double as cold compresses. They can be chilled in the freezer for a cool, refreshing experience. However, please note that this is a limited and secondary functionality. These heatings pads are designed to retain heat, not to get cold or stay cold for long periods of time. They provide gentle cooling action for a limited period of time: 5-8 minutes per cooling cycle.
If you are looking primarily for a cold wrap, we recommend a gel wrap. Huggaroo makes two different kinds of products, specifically designed to get cold and stay cold: the Huggaroo Cold Compress for Headache and Migraine Relief and the Huggaroo Eye Mask (available with lavender aromatherapy or unscented). The specially-formulated gel packs get ice cold, remain flexible even when frozen, and stay cold for an extended period of time. The Huggaroo Eye Masks may also be used as a warm compress (they include a gel ice pack insert and a microwavable hot pack insert).
Do not submerge your microwavable heating pad in water
One look at the list of ingredients and you'll be able to guess why that would be a terrible idea - clay beads. Clay beads do a wonderful job of retaining heat and that’s why we have included them as an ingredient in our microwavable heating pads. Unfortunately, clay beads have the quirky property of turning into mud when soaked in water. Submerging a microwavable heating pad in water damages it permanently.
If the fabric of your wrap gets soiled, you may spot clean the fabric with a wet wash cloth. That would be perfectly safe and would not damage the beads inside. Just remember to go easy with the wetting and to never place the wrap under water.
How is the moist heat of microwavable heating pads generated?
The ingredients of the Huggaroo microwavable heating pads trap moisture from the atmosphere. When microwaved, the moisture is released. Thus, our heating pads provide very pleasant, slightly moist heat. The amount of this moisture will vary depending on the humidity of your specific environment (very little in Arizona and a lot in Florida). This minor humidity is perfectly safe and will not harm your Huggaroo heating pad.
Hopefully, you found this article informative. More succinct versions of the above instructions are provided for our customers in our online product listings, product boxes, and product labels. If you have any questions about how to get the most out of your Huggaroo microwavable heating pads, please let us know! We love our customers and are always available to help. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org