Soaking is up to you, generally in recipes its required to soak them to make them easier to mix. It really doesnt matter, I've never heard that there were any health benefits to soaking dried fruits. You really can't be sure if there heated unless you were to call the company but Im pretty sure that most organic non-sulfured dried fruits from whole foods are okay, jsut make sure they include no sugars or other ingredients. I don't think that dates are ever heated because they arent dried, Im pretty sure they come off the tree that way. Hope this helps!