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which heating pad is best?

Back in the day, people could only relieve their muscle pain with a hot water bottle and Epsom salt baths. But heating pads have come a long way, and advancements in technology provided plenty of new features for this wellness tool. Hot water bottles became less popular after the first electric heating pads came along, which gave users sustained relief from aches and pains without the mess.

Today, there are all kinds of heating pads you can choose from. If you want a high-quality heating pad, check out the iReliev Far Infrared Heating Pad. It heats 112 natural jade and tourmaline wellness stones to reduce aching, soothe muscles and relieve pain.

What to know before you buy a heating pad

Types of heating pads

There are several types of heating pads, all of which have their pros and cons. A hot water bottle is a rubber bladder with a threaded cap. If you want some substantial head for a smaller area, you can save money with these heating pads. However, they don’t hold heat as long as other methods.

You can also take a look at microwave heating pads, which are fabric bags filled with grains or microbeads. Consider this type if you want a pad for relaxation, muscle tensions, and occasional pain relief from cramps.

Chemical heating pads are small gel packs that heat up when you trigger a chemical reaction by shaking them or exposing them to the air. These are a great option if you need portable heat in a short amount of time.

Electric heating pads are perfect for those with chronic soreness in muscles and joints. These allow users to adjust the temperature and get the relief they want and include other features like timers, automatic shut-off and more.

What to look for in a quality heating pad

Temperature control

Hot water bottles, microwavable heating pads and chemical heating pads all have their drawbacks. You cannot adjust the temperature, and they inevitably cool down. An electric heating pad allows you to choose exactly how much heat you want for a sustained period. Budget electric heating pads might have only a few settings, while better electric heating pads have multiple options.  

Automatic shut-off 

The warm, toasty feeling you get from a heating pad can make you drowsy, which may cause you to fall asleep. Heating pads with automatic timers shut off after an hour or two. This is useful if you drift off to sleep or accidentally leave the heating pad unattended. It also saves you money.

Cord length

Some heating pads have very short power cords. Look for heating pads with long cords to avoid the hassle of wrangling an extension cord every time you want to use it.


Each manufacturer has a different idea of what labels like XL and XXL mean. The best way to make sure your heating pad is the right size for your needs is to check the dimensions and not the label. Remember bigger is better, especially if you plan on using your pad on multiple areas.

How much you can expect to spend on a heating pad

Small electric heating pads and some microwavable pads cost $10-$20. If you want something with a few more size options, features and controls, you can expect to spend $25-$40. High-tech full-body heating pads cost as much as $2,500.

Heating pad FAQ

What setting should I use?

A. Therapists recommend you start at the lowest setting on your heating pad and gradually increase the heat as needed. The lower the setting, the longer the time you can use your heating pad. 

How long can I use my heating pad in a single session? 

A. Most manufacturers recommend using the highest temperature setting for no more than 15 or 20 minutes.

What’s the best heating pad to buy?

Top heating pad

iReliev Far Infrared Heating Pad

iReliev Far Infrared Heating Pad

What you need to know: Far infrared wavelengths permeate deeper into the upper and lower back, hamstrings, shoulders and arms.

What you’ll love: Far infrared rays help increase blood circulation and improve energy. This flexible unit has a 10-foot power cord and measures 24 inches by 16 inches. It heats all-natural jade and tourmaline wellness stones that release negative ions to reduce aching, inflamed muscles and relieve pain. The timer lasts for up to five hours. 

What you should consider: The 10-inch cord is very short and you will likely need to use this product with an extension cord.

Where to buy: Sold by iRelieve and Amazon

Top heating pad for the money

iReliev Weighted Moist/Dry Heating Pad

iReliev Weighted Moist/Dry Heating Pad

What you need to know: Consider this gently weighted heating pad which calms and soothes.

What you’ll love: This three-pound heating pad is clinically proven to reduce muscle tension by increasing blood flow to targeted regions of your body. It has an ultra-soft microfiber heating pad that is machine washable. It heats in seconds and has a two-hour auto shut-off timer. 

What you should consider: There are only three heat settings.

Where to buy: Sold by iRelieve and Amazon

Worth checking out

Pure Enrichment PureRelief XXL Electric Heating Pad 

Pure Enrichment PureRelief XXL Electric Heating Pad 

What you need to know: At 24 inches by 20 inches, this ultra-wide heating pad is large enough to wrap around your limbs or drape over your shoulders like a cape.

What you’ll love: This machine-washable microfiber heating pad is 60% larger than standard heating pads and has an extra-long nine-foot cord. The digital LCD controller has six heat settings to accommodate your personal comfort level and comes with a moist heat therapy option.

What you should consider: Some users don’t feel this heating pad gets hot enough.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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