What you need to know
Wheat bags can bring relief and comfort, but there is a danger of fire and a risk of injury if they are not used properly.
What you need to do
Choosing a wheat bag
Wheat bags available in shops usually contain buckwheat, which has a known moisture content. If you follow the recommended heating time, the bag should not overheat, cause a fire, or burn you.
Homemade wheat bags can pose a greater fire and injury risk because the moisture content and volume of these bags is not known, and the proper heating time can’t be recommended.
- Choose wheat bags with clear heating instructions and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Look for wheat bags that meet the New Zealand safety standard for Wheat bags: AS/NZS 5116/2016.
- Choose wheat bags that include a manufacturer’s contact details in case you have a problem.
- The use of a type of wheat other than buckwheat may increase the risks of overheating, fires, and burns.
Using wheat bags safely
- Only use a wheat bag for direct application to the body and don’t cover it with blankets, pillows or warm clothing.
- Use a hot water bottle instead of a wheat bag in confined spaces that can trap heat, such as under blankets or in bedding, as wheat bags can ignite when heat is trapped.
Heating wheat bags in the microwave
- Don't leave the microwave unattended and make sure the wheat bag rotates freely in the microwave turntable.
- Do not reheat a bag that has been heated recently.
- Adding oils to wheat bags creates an added fire risk.
- Wheat bags need to be hydrated so they don’t dry out, If you use the wheat bag infrequently, it may absorb enough moisture from the air. Otherwise, industry advice recommends applying moisture directly to the surface of the bag by lightly sprinkling or using a water spray bottle.
Storing and replacing wheat bags
- Only store the bag when it has cooled completely – this can take 2 hours.
- Leave the wheat bag to cool in a safe place where a fire would not spread.
- Don’t store a wheat bag in a hot place where spontaneous heating can occur and the wheat may catch fire – for example, a car seat in the sun.
- Discard the bag if there is evidence of problems, for example discolouration or charring.
- If you smell burning, your wheat bag should be thrown away. Carefully remove the bag from the heat source and place it on a non-combustible surface, such as a sink or kitchen bench. Let the wheat bag completely cool, then throw it away.
If you have a safety problem or concern
If you have some concerns about the safety of a product or if you’re injured by a product, you should tell the retailer or supplier about it.
You also have the right to ask for a remedy such as a refund, replacement, or repair under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). One of the guarantees in the CGA is that products must be of acceptable quality, and this includes that the product is safe.
In addition, it’s good to report the details to us – product safety reports from the public help government agencies to identify systemic issues and help us to prioritise and respond to issues.