We have seen that almost all soup packages need a microwave to get the soup at the right temperature. Some need only hot water to add and some can, as alternative, be heated in a pan of hot/boiling water. That brings us to the assortment of heating devices, whether they are incorporated in the packaging, as self-heating, or are, as a separate unit, coming with the soup bowl. Then we have the e-Coupled heating device, which is a nice alternative to the microwave, but still needs some extra device to let it do its work.
Let’s have a look at the self-heating device first.
Of course the self-heating is developed for coffee. After years of trial-and-error there seems to be, finally, a viable self-heating can for coffee on the market.
Hot-Can of Malaysia has created a revolutionary smart packaging that is self-heating. The Hot-Can is a double chambered aluminium can which contains the beverage in the outer chamber and holds water and calcium oxide (quick lime) separately in the inner chamber. When the button at the bottom of the can is pressed, the water mixes with the quicklime, starting an exothermic reaction that heats the contents of the outer chamber in less the 3 minutes to 50-55°C.
The heat is generated from mixing calcium oxide (quicklime, CaO) with hydrogen dioxide (water, H2O) which produces calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2). Once the heating reaction is complete, the calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) reacts readily with carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air to form calcium carbonate (limestone, CaCO3) and returns to its original state. The reactions are essentially CO2 neutral.
A heat indicator label clearly indicates when the correct drinking temperature has been reached, by changing from black to green. Should the beverage become hotter than the optimum drinking temperature, the heat indicator label will change from black to red.
You can argue that it is difficult to spoon or even drink soup from a beverage can. But don’t forget recent developments. With the full-aperture end, introduced in South Africa by SABMiller during the last World Football Cup, the aluminium beverage can is transformed into a convenient drinking cup. I wrote about this development in my article: “SABMiller’s Imitation of a Frosty Beer Glass”.
It might also be possible that the Malaysian development of Hot-Can, can be used for other packaging formats. There is still something left to do for the next designer or packaging engineer. But surely it has potential.
Update: Recently Crown Holdings signed a contract with HeatGenie to integrate its patented high-efficiency, solid-fuel technology into food and beverage packaging. The compact modular heat source at the base of the package is about the size of a small tea candle and weighs just 1.33 ounces. The common, food-safe material within the heater provides high content energy and heat at a controlled rate. Differently from other systems, HeatGenie isn’t mixing quicklime or other chemicals with water. It’s a very interesting development about which I will write later in detail in a separate article.
Speaking about potential, so has the eCoupled technology to wirelessly heat instant soup in its container.
Although no microwave or stove is used, it is not a self-heating container, but still the soup packaging cooks its contents without any external heat source. It features charging technology printed onto the packaging. This allows the consumer to cook the soup by just placing the pack on a wireless charged work surface and choosing low, medium or high temperature.
See for more details my article: “February – Five New Packaging Innovations”.
Although a very interesting development the initial disadvantage is, of course, the fact that the consumer needs an eCoupled-enabled countertop. Not a microwave, but still some extra device in the kitchen or in the office.
Ok, one last for the road. Literally, as this solution is an ideal one for the outdoor enthusiast, hiker, or somebody spending some time in the rural area. The sauce-bowl packaging which allows for easy heating by candle.
Originally the sauce bowls from Verstegen, The Netherlands were designed to keep sauces warm during a large diner. Its aluminium bowls for Candlelight Pepersaus (pepper sauce), which contain sauces in a bain marie, can be placed over a lit candle. A three-legged plastic tray incorporates an injection-moulded, press-on overcap that houses a tea light. The 300-ml bowl top is shaped so that once the sauce product is accessed, it can seat the tray over the candle, which warms the sauce.
It isn’t difficult to see the pepper sauce replaced by a nice, tasty and thick vegetable soup. Slow? Well, slow cooking is in and gives a much tastier result than the microwave. And what the hell, a hiker surrounded by nature, has all the time of the world. Wait and see the tasty soup getting ready to end a day with the sun setting in the background.
I hope that this article has given food for thought.