Hot Food Anytime Anywhere: Self-Heating Food Packaging

Instant noodles are one the easiest ready to cook food item. It has saved a lot of time and energy of a lot of individuals. Then came the cup-o-noodles that only requires hot water. It is a life saver for students living in a hostel. But what if I don’t have any heating medium? Then came the self-heating food packaging.

Irrespective of the temperature of the water you have, it has the ability to heat the food for you. 

First, the technology was developed for the Russian military and it was used to provide food to the soldiers in war. They used the pouches as it was lightweight and easy to carry. Heating of food using this method eliminates the need for fire.

Then the technology landed in Japan and changed the market. According to a survey, there was a sudden change in packed food trends. People were preferring the use of this food, giving them the freedom to eat at their comfort with fewer efforts.

Working of self-heating packaging

The concept is quite simple, It uses some basic chemistry and product designing.

Every pouch, can and the box is dual-chambered. The innermost chamber consists the food, while the outer chamber consists of chemical compounds when water is added to the mixture then an exothermic reaction does take place. 

The outline of the method is this while there are different methods used for different types of packaging.


Can are durable and can resist some amount of mechanical strain on them. In cans below the can, there is a dual-chambered cavity. The cavity wall allows the transfer of heat to the beverage in the can.

The can is sealed from both sides. First, we have to open the seal from below, that allows access to a small plug. When we press that plug a fine membrane is broken down, mixing water with calcium oxide. This causes an exothermic reaction, hence heating the can.


The box is dual-chambered and it gives access to every chamber. The outer chamber consists of a pouch with calcium oxide, having a permeable film on it. Then we have to add water add to keep the inner chamber at its place while covering everything with a lid.

This technology has been commercially viable in certain parts of the world only.

In 2002 Nescafe launched self-heating cans in Britain but it was a failure. The cans were only able to achieve a temperature of about 60c. Due to the cold climate, cans were not able to heat the coffee.

Article by,

Haroshit Tandon, admin

Student, NIFTEM

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