MRE heaters are water-activated food heater that are included in Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) by the military and other emergency relief organizations. They allow you to heat up your food without having to make a fire.
MRE heaters work through a chemical reaction called a oxidation-reduction reaction.
Mg + 2H20 → Mg(OH)2 + H2 + heat
These flameless heaters are great for heating up food but they can also be used for other things. Check out some of these ideas below:
Imagine you’re out camping but don’t want to make a fire. You can still make some hot coffee or cocoa. Simply mix up the instant coffee or cocoa, pour it into a plastic bottle and place the lid on top. Place the bottle inside the MRE heater and activate it with the water. You’ll have some hot cocoa or coffee within minutes!
Make a Fire
As we mentioned above, the MRE heaters use magnesium powder to create their heat. In that case, you can open the bag, extract the powder and use it as tinder to start a fire. You can also start a fire by throwing sparks into the fumes that are put off by the heater. You have to be pretty careful though with this since you don’t want to light the plastic or the food on fire.
Thaw Frozen Water Lines
Now that winter is soon approaching, MREs are a great way to thaw water lines if you find yourself in a quick freeze. Wrap the heater around the pipe and activate, the heater will thaw out the line and allow you to empty it.
Many of the heaters will be too hot to place on your body directly. But if you wrap the heater up in a towel or cloth, you should be ok. You can use the heater to relieve sore muscles, treat injuries and more.
So, we’ve never tried this one but it’s been reported that you can make toast with an MRE heater. By placing the bread on top of the heater pad and activating it, it should crisp the bread while you rotate it to the other side. Not having tested this one out, I imagine you’d have to be careful not to let the bread get into the steam that’s escaping from the bag - no one likes soggy toast.
What have you used them for?
Comment below to tell us what you’ve used MRE Heaters for and share the knowledge. Part of being fully prepared is knowing how to use items for multiple purposes. Share your knowledge below.
Camp Cooking: A Practical Handbook