THERE WAS SOMETHING NEW to me in the camping foods section at Walmart. I wasn’t particularly interested in prefab pizza. What caught my attention was that the pre-fab pizza was self-heating. Just add water. Any water at any temperature. So no need to boil water first.

Hmmmm. I thought such a thing was only available in military MREs, but now here it was in a civilian application, and for the same price as traditional add-your-own-clean-boiling-water dehydrated meals. I wanted to experience this NXH Heating Technology myself, even if the pizza might turn out to be crap. (Spoiler: it was.)


NXH® Heating Technology, I learned, comes from NEX-XOS Worldwide, which “is committed to producing safe, shelf-stable quality products that conform to all regulatory requirements and meets the highest food safety best standards.” They also claim NXH® “has revolutionized what has come to be widely known as the flameless ration heater (FRH)… we created an innovative FRH that requires no water or saltwater, our FRH can activated with any non-flammable liquid! River water, juice, milk, tea, soda etc.” And that “Our proprietary heating technology, NXH®, is certified safe and non-toxic, odorless and safe to use in closed confined spaces. When activated, our FRH emits safe, odorless steam to heat up your meal.”

Essentially, there’s a porous packet of something-or-other that, when wet, creates a heat-producing chemical reaction.

I followed the instructions and… for a few seconds nothing happened. So I shook it and… nothing happened. I opened the bag to see whether the chemical pack had even gotten wet. Mmmm, sort of. I poked at things a little then sealed the bag back up and… Foosh! It started venting steam out of the little hole. I set my timer.

After five minutes (the instructions suggested 3-5 minutes) I used tongs to fish the foil pizza packets out of the very hot bag. The packets resisted my attempts to tear them open, so I used scissors. The “pizzas” were only slightly warmer than the ambient temperature. The “cheese” wasn’t even melty. It was as if the foil of the packets had insulated the pizzas from the heat. Maybe the process works better with other foods, like their cheese tortellini, turkey chili, southwest chicken with rice, chicken pasta parmesan, or lentils with beef. And maybe those are a better eating experience.

The trouble is, these are not a cheap way to eat — especially since the price has doubled in the past year or so. (The same is true of conventional dehydrated meals and MREs.) Such is the world we live in these days. But it might be good to have one or two of these stashed away for when you’re hungry for a warm meal but have no way to heat it.