Food packaging industry has been researched and studied for improvements for a long time now. Most of this research and innovation is done keeping in view the type of people that are on the move for various reasons and don’t have the luxuries of a cooking range and anything of the same nature always with them. These type of people might include the military when they are on various outdoor sites, road hogs who travel most of their time on the road traveling for various reasons, field workers who have to travel a lot to get to different work sites or just someone who doesn’t have enough time to spend on that stove in the kitchen as well. The self-heating food packaging has the ability to cook food from the heat produced by the chemical reaction that has to be initiated at the outside walls of the packaging itself. The required chemicals for the reaction are stored in the containers tailor made to fit inside the space within the lining of the walls of the packaging, which is in close contact with the food present in the inside of the packaging unit. The heat produced by the exothermic chemical reaction heats up the heat conductive layer between the food and chemicals and gets conducted right through to the food itself, heating and cooking it as a result of the whole process. Some very good implementations of this chemical reaction idea have the ability to cook the food right from raw uncooked form to a nicely tender and fully cooked enjoyable meal. Usually main courses are cooked with this self-heating food packaging system. Here are some great ways self-heating food packaging can be beneficial:
One of the main advantages related with self-heating food packaging is that raw food can be stored in it, which can then be frozen until the need for it arises. Even when the freezing option is not available, the heat insulator layer on the outside prevents any heat from entering the packaging and getting to the food as well. This enables the food to remain fresh for longer periods of time without getting stale and expired. This factor makes encourages the packaging to be used by people who don’t have access to cooking ranges all the time like the military personal or field engineers.
For people that may not have enough time to cook in their kitchens, the self-heating food packaging provides a great opportunity as well. All these on the go people need to do is to carry the food contained in the packaging with them and activate the chemical reaction by letting the chemicals mix up within their storage compartments in order to start the heating and cooking process. The heating process usually stays for enough time to cook the food nicely, just ensure to stir it in order to spread the heat nicely and cook all the food inside the packaging equally. Just leave it like that for a short amount of time, until the heating and the hissing sound stops and your hot cooked meal on the go is ready to be served.
This one is for parents who might have to travel a lot with their babies. Baby food including those cereals and even milk can be easily stored in some of this self-heating food packaging and heated up whenever or wherever required. The cold milk and other baby foods stay fresh for until they are required for use. And when required the chemical reaction can be easily triggered to heat the food up just nice and warm and ready for the baby to eat or drink. This option is also very comforting for parents who don’t want the hassle of middle of the night trips to the kitchen, they can easily store cold milk and food for the babies in these packaging containers and just initiate the chemical reaction at whatever time in the night the milk is required by the baby right from the comfort of their cozy beds.
It is still early days in the self-heating packaging industry and for the time being its use on an industrial level is largely happening in the on the go coffee industry. Ready to use coffee mugs are carefully crafted with the heat-producing chemical at the bottom layer of it. Whenever the coffee is required, the chemicals can be activated to initiate the exothermic chemical reaction that yields the necessary heat to heat up the coffee inside the container. The added benefit of this type of implementation is that the coffee will stay nice and hot for those slow drinkers as well who like to enjoy their coffee for a little while. This idea can easily be applied for other hot drinks as well like tea or chocolate drinks.
The chemicals required to initiate the exothermic chemical reaction in the self-heating food packaging do require quite a bit of space and they have the weight concern as well. Just to estimate it roughly, the weight of the chemicals and the containers they have to be contained in is approximately 40% of the whole unit including the food and all the layers of packaging and the space they require is approximately 40% of the whole unit as well. Keeping these in mind, to implement the self-heating food packaging might not be suitable for every situation. Special concern and resources have to be allocated to carry the bigger heavier packages along with the travelers, however in cases where people can look past these size and weight limitations, the self-heating food packaging becomes on of the most beneficial products for people that have limitations in terms of their access to kitchens and stoves.
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