Home Reviews Hotcan HotCan – miracle food!

HotCan – miracle food!

by Arnie

First taste: Sausage ‘n wedges

By Arnie


400g high
calorific meal
Self heating
Non toxic heating element
No refigeration needed
Sealed food pack
Long shelf life
Non toxic fumes, no smoke

RRP 4 pack

12 pack



Soo, HotCan eh?
What is it you ask? Well the premise is simple, it’s a
self heating can of food. In short.. a mini miracle really.

“…Thanks to our tried and tested
process, HOTCAN ® means you can enjoy an excellent,
piping hot, properly balanced meal – no outside source
of heat is required.

Just by following 3 easy steps, in
12-15 minutes you will have a delicious hot meal in front
of you which can be eaten straight out of its container.

Simple, quick and easy to use, HOTCAN ® represents
a real breakthrough in the ready prepared food market.
Whether you are at your place of work or leisure, from
now on you can enjoy a hot, well balanced meal which
has all the gourmet touches of great prepared cuisine…”

Now in my searches for culinary perfection whilst
out and about I’ve tried pretty much anything when I’ve been
out in the back of beyond. I’ve tried dehydrated packs, MREs, British
MOD rat packs, outdoor food and all manner of emergency rations.
To be honest all of them have drawbacks and there’s almost always
a trade off between packing weight and the shelflife/taste.

Now lets face it in a survival situation most of
us would eat anything, but given that most Airsofters don’t play
games that are that realistic I think we can be a bit choosey
and go for something that’s a bit more practical and suited to
our needs.

To be fair the idea of self heating is not that
new, way back in 1939 the military had a reasonably similar system
where a can was heated with burning cordite. For some odd reason
they were withdrawn from military service along with the mil-spec
glow in the dark watches of that decade. ^_^

A similar design to HotCan was seen when Nestlé launched
the ‘Hot When you Want’

Thematic (Coffee) Can back in 2001. Sadly Nestlé have now withdrawn

‘Hot When you Want’

product due to lack of interest and the high cost of production.

In this review we’ll look at how the HotCan works,
the mechanism involved, the physics of the system, and it’s applications
as both an outdoor nourishment, emergency food and its applications
with regards to Airsoft. In this first review I’m specifically
looking at the “Sausages ‘N wedges” can, there are
actually 12 different flavours in all.

it works:
Under the red rubber lid of the tin
you’ll find what looks like a bent nail (8). You use
this to pierce the holes in the outer jacket and start
the heating process.

The relative components here are lime and
water, simple and easy to follow. When you pierce the lid
the water mixes with the lime and an exothermic reaction
takes place.

The reaction heats the can to around
65degC in roughly 12 minutes. If you really want to wait
around for that long the can will retain it’s heat for
about 60 minutes.

  1. Water
  2. Lime (calcium oxide)
  3. Standard size tin of food
  4. Clamp which hermetically seals the
    ring shaped compartment containing the lime and water.
  5. Easy opening system
  6. Heat insulator
  7. Waterproof separator
  8. Perforating device

“Smokin’!” The guidelines are printed on
the back of the can, and it’s all really easy to follow,
but for anyone that prefers a clearer explanation in text
and some more shots here’s how you heat this puppy up:

1. Remove the plastic lid and place it on the bottom
of the can so that it supports the can and holds it off the surface
(lid placed open end upwards with can on top).

2. With the spike found under the lid poke it through
the three holes you find in the rim of the can. Be sure to stab
the pin all the way down.

3. Lift the pull ring to the vertical position to
open the food can itself.

4. Stir the contents throughout the heating process.

5. Your food is ready to nosh down after roughly
12 minutes of heating.

Health and safety: For those interested in the
health and safety specifics here’s the Health and Safety sheet
as printed on the HotCan


‘Hotcan’ ® Self-heating meals

Intended use To provide a 400g high nutritional meal at a temperature
of above 65ºC to persons operating away from conventional
methods of cooking or heating food.
Operating time The ‘Hotcan’ ®, after the spike has pierced the water
bag and allowed water to contact the limestone granules,
will start the reaction and the limestone begins to give
off heat. Normal ambient cooking time is approximately 12-15
minutes to achieve 65-70ºC in the inner food can. The
reaction will keep the food hot for a period of approximately
45 minutes after activation.
Hazard Classification Non-hazardous, non-toxic, non-pyrotechnic. Not classified
as dangerous under UK Carriage, Packing and Loading Regulations.
Composition Sterile 400g food can with easy-open end, wrapped with
a composite aluminium foil water bag positioned in an outer
can by the use of a plastic location and sealing ring filled
with a measure of granular limestone of three types. Seamed
end on outer can to complete air-tight construction. Wrapped
with a thermal insulator to protect operator from heat while
handling and further wrapped with a plastic label. Finally
a metal spike is placed on the top of the can and a plastic
sealing cap positioned.
Safety of use/handling Not a fire hazard, does not contain any toxic components.
Requires the top cap of the product to be placed on the bottom
end of the ‘Hotcan’ ® to protect hands from heat source
during operation. This product gets hot during use.
Shelf Life Three years from manufacturing date, or as indicated on
printed bottom end of can.
Storage At ambient temperature in a rust-free environment.
Packaging 4 or 12 x 860g cans packed per outer carton.
Quality & environmental
Hotcan UK Limited operates Quality Management
and Environmental Systems that have gained certifications

BS EN ISO 9001: 2000
Certificate number GB9189

BS EN ISO 14001; 1996
Certificate number GB9285

Health Mark Approval Code

It is the policy of Hotcan UK Limited
to maintain the highest standards in the manufacture
and supply of its products and to the service provided
to its customers
Emergency measures

Spillage: None of the components are toxic and can be
washed off safely using cold water.

Disposal: The packaging is recyclable where recycling
facilities exist or may be disposed of safely via normal
waste handling processes.

Fire: Non-flammable.

The taste: The good thing
about the HotCan system is that the food is basically fairly
standard tinned product, so not dissimilar from your standard
tin of Heinz version of Beans and Wedges for example. The good
news is that as it’s tinned there’s no need for preservatives
or additives, if you check the ingredients for each tin you’ll
see that there’s no hidden oddities, or in the case of mil-spec
ration packs additions that may affect your natural dietary”rhythm”.

So how does it taste? Well it’s difficult to put
such things into words, but I’ll do my best:

– The sausages are not the cheaper hotdog style,
instead are more like your average British sausage, quite chunky
and lacking that really processed texture that some styles can
have. The sausages are quite tasty, but it’s important that you
stir the can well throughout the heating process to ensure that
the sausages are heated up well, as they’re quite large.

– The potato wedges are
again a nice surprise, they didn’t come across as being tastelessly
soggy which to be frank was a nice surprise, I expected the
potato to be rather anemic. The wedges also have real skins on
then which really adds to the flavour and helps distance it from
cheaper food stuffs.

– Lastly there’s the beans, most of us have
been students at some point in our lives; I’m no exception
so I’m somewhat familiar with baked beans in all their varieties.
The beans here certainly aren’t like the cheap 9p tins you
can get at the supermarket, the sauce is actually thick and flavorsome.
All in all top marks here.

To be honest for instant heated food it’s about
the best I’ve had so far.. no real need for pepper or salt to
make it taste a bit more palatable, and as the tin contents are

As there’s a nice variety available from HotCan
you can pretty much choose something you’ll enjoy even if you’re
a bit picky about your food – I’ll eat just about anything

Applications: Applications
for the HotCan are incredibly wide ranging, a food with a long
shelf life and the ability to heat itself on its own is obviously
incredibly useful. I know that the cans have best before dates
listed on them, but to be honest I’m pretty sure the food inside
would still be edible way beyond the date on the can.. that’s
if you can put off the temptation just to grab one out the box
because you’re too lazy to cook at home and want to avoid the
washing up.

Airsoft skirmishes: Lets face it the average
Airsofter isn’t the most active of folk when it comes to meal
time. You’re either out for a laugh at the weekend, or you’re
simply knackered after a day of running around with all the gear

Either way, here’s a food that can be heated up
and eaten almost anywhere. No need to send the designated driver
off to the curry house, no wait, no gas, no flames just simple
hot food in 12 minutes. If you’re in a tent just remember that
although there’s no flames or burning involved in heating the
tin it does get very hot, especially the bottom, so don’t melt
a hole through your ground sheet.

Camping/Outdoor: If you’re on foot it’s
perhaps not the best idea in the world to carry lots of these,
at 800g per tin (400g of that being the food content) you’re
looking at at least 2kg in tinned food alone per day. For the
odd trip of 1-2 days there’s perhaps no need to carry a separate
heating source for the food, although you might need one for
making hot drinks anyway. Remember the weight of the HotCans
is not necessarily a bad thing (as stated it reduces taking heating
equipment and plates etc), but always keep the total weight in
mind, remember that although your pack might be manageable loaded
up at home it feels a whole lot different in the pouring rain
with aching feet after a 7-10 mile hike.

Curiosities: Just a
few things that I came across when testing the cans out for the
first time, some humorous, some just interesting points:

As the tin heats it does sound rather like
a kettle giving the odd pop and fizzle (water boiling
I guess). This is honestly quite weird to hear from a
can that’s basically sitting on it’s own not plugged
into the mains on a kitchen surface.

inner tin
: Curiously the after getting to
the bottom of the tin (yup ate the lot, and jolly nice
it was too) I noticed that a few curious bends have appeared
in the tin wall (photo seen inset).

Nothing to be worried about, there’s holes at
the top to ensure that there’s no pressure build up in
the heating jacket, but it just goes to show how effective
the heating system is. My straight guess is that as the
tin is fixed in place and unable to move it warps itself
inside as it heats up and expands. Please note that in
the shots shown I’ve washed out the inside. I’m a tidy
bugger after all. ^_^

The outer label for the HotCan system
actually doubles as an insulating foam (plastic foam about
3mm thick), and affords rather good heat protection allowing
you to carry and handle the can without burning yourself.

If you pack these for a long trip
you might want to ensure that the label doesn’t rip off
and disappear, or you’ll have to invent some way of holding
the can without it.

I normally have some decent heat-resistant
nomex gloves on me anyway when I’m out and about, but if
you’re packing these tins in a Landie or some other “inferior” (ahem)
non-British 4×4, you’ll probably have some decent gloves
in the rear just for changing tires etc.

One other really minor point of note was that I
never spotted any lettering on the tin to identify the contents
if the label should go walkies. If it really bothers you
(perhaps a potential allergy problem, or you just don’t like
canned surprises) and you’re packing them for the day sometime
in the not so near future when you might just need them,
just write the contents on the metal lid with a black magi-marker.
I know it may sound silly, but if you pack food for a real
emergency you might as well cover all your bases.

Conclusion: It’s a gadget
that is not only useful but has numerous applications; all in
all it really is a winner. Now if only they invented a self cooling
can of beer!

Trade and Emergency Services
note that the price and product information contained we have
here is relative only for retail sales in UK.

Trade and Emergency Services customers can send
send contact details direct to hotcanlimited@aol.com and
they will contact you with their trade brochure. Alternatively
you can phone, fax or post your enquiry to the numbers shown

Hotcan UK Limited, Unit 7, Carrwood Road, Chesterfield Trading
Estate, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 9QB
Tel: (01246) 26 89 88 – Fax: (01246) 45 10 46 – Email: hotcanlimited@aol.com



on this review in the forums

Tuesday, December 16, 2003 9:40 PM
Copyright 2003 ArniesAirsoft

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