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Beware the humble Wheat Bag

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Old 04-29-2013, 02:57 PM   #1
Lara
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Exclamation Beware the humble Wheat Bag

In New South Wales in Australia this week there has been an inquest into non-fatal fires and a fatal fire due to use of wheat bags. All of the fires were started by wheat bags that had been heated in microwaves. Concern is that the wheat can dry out/change structure with repeated use contributing to fire risk. Currently there is no Australian Standard for wheat bags.

Wheat bags under scrutiny in house fire inquest
ABC News Australia
29th of April, 2013
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Last edited by Lara; 04-29-2013 at 04:32 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 04-30-2013, 11:18 AM   #2
Batik
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Does anyone know if there's a similar risk with rice bags, and if you're OK as long as you only set the microwave for a short period? My rice bag is quite small, it's a sock in fact, and I don't heat it further than warm as it's used as a warm compress over my eyes.

I once made a nice wheat bag for my mother, and it got accidentally killed by mistake. She has a combi oven-microwave and left the wheat bag in there one day. I didn't realise it was in there and preheated the oven to the highest heat for a baked potato. By the time I found the wheat bag in there, it was thoroughly charred. No fires, thankfully.
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Old 04-30-2013, 01:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Batik View Post
Does anyone know if there's a similar risk with rice bags, and if you're OK as long as you only set the microwave for a short period? My rice bag is quite small, it's a sock in fact, and I don't heat it further than warm as it's used as a warm compress over my eyes.

I once made a nice wheat bag for my mother, and it got accidentally killed by mistake. She has a combi oven-microwave and left the wheat bag in there one day. I didn't realise it was in there and preheated the oven to the highest heat for a baked potato. By the time I found the wheat bag in there, it was thoroughly charred. No fires, thankfully.
I have a rice bag called a rice buddy that I made from a small sock. I heat it in my microwave for 30 seconds so that it isn't really hot. I use it on my neck and top of shoulder area and have for years. It works just great. Microwaves do differ but that's what it takes for mine. No troubles at all.

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Old 04-30-2013, 07:40 PM   #4
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I don't know, Batik. I would imagine the rice would be less flammable than the wheat ones but I really don't know for sure.

I used a wheat one for my neck for a very long time. I also had one that had some type of beans in it. Not sure what they were. Both were bought at market stalls if I remember correctly. They were really useful at the time. I wasn't fond of the smell of the wheat one really. Also worried about bacteria, but I tend to worry about those sorts of things more than most perhaps.

The problem with the one involved in the fatal fire was that she was using it as a bed warmer and it was obviously too hot and once it was under all the bed covers it ignited.

Some of the heating bags come with herbs and oils and all manner of things in them. That would add to the fire danger I'm sure. Not all microwaves are the same either and they tend to create hot spots. People sell them in markets here everywhere. The material used for the cover is something else that could add to the fire danger. Heating them in the microwave with a little water in there might help too. Shaking them around after heating might help as well.

This inquest here will hopefully make it mandatory to add a warning label so people are reminded of potential dangers. There are lots of things to consider which I actually had never ever considered when using them myself.
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