How To Boil Water For Camping

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You need to boil water while camping. You need to heat up the water to make coffee or tea. You need it to make dinner or to wash dishes. And you may need to boil water to make water safe to drink. We will now look at each of those options in detail.

The easiest way to boil water will be with a portable stove. But you can also use solar water heater bags. Or a bucket heater if you have access to a generator. And of course, you can use a campfire.

The simplest way to boil water is a portable stove.
Check out the best portable stoves from Amazon.

But what’s the best way to boil water while camping? What are the pros and cons of each option?

Portable Stove

Let’s begin with a simple solution that is well-regarded among campers and does a good job of delivering well-boiled water. In general, the idea is to buy a mini stove that can be carried with you throughout the camping trip.

I’m a fan of the Jetboil as my portable stove. It’s optimized for boiling water.

Photograph of my Jetboil for boiling water.

You can include a small pot to hold the water as the mini stove does the work. In most cases, all you are going to need is the mini stove, a pot, water, and a lighter. This is more than enough to boil the water and make sure it heats as fast as you want it to. Of course, this is a straightforward method and can be adjusted based on how quickly you want the water to be boiled.

Solar Water Heating Bags

This is a unique option that’s versatile, easy to use, and offers consistent results when it is time to boil water.

The bags are compact and don’t get in the way of your camping gear. In general, the idea is to choose a well-sized solar water heating bag that can be carried around on the trip and will work well as soon as it is time to heat the water. This is an eco-friendly solution that doesn’t require any type of fuel and/or lighter to produce heat. Instead, as long as it is powered with solar energy, it is going to work well and deliver exceptional results.

You will also appreciate being able to store these solar water heating bags once the task is complete.

With this particular solution, you can simply pour the water in and allow the heating bags to do the job. They will heat nicely and boil the water in a matter of minutes as required. Please note, this can vary depending on external conditions, which is why it’s a solution that does demand a good understanding of what’s happening around you.

Bucket Style

Let’s assume you have a five-gallon bucket with you for the camping trip. In this situation, you can easily set up a solution that is going to allow the bucket to rest on-site as you pour the water in. Once the water is in, you will need to hook the main heater into a power outlet. This can be done with the help of a portable generator. On some campgrounds, you may have access to a power outlet, so you can directly connect the bucket heater to the power source. This is going to differ from situation to situation.

After the bucket heater has been plugged in, you can start to let it heat the water while keeping an eye on the thermometer. This will let you know when the water has reached a certain temperature. It’s a simple way to heat the water and is going to do a wonderful job for those who want to boil a significant amount as soon as possible.

The bucket heater tends to work well with different types of containers but it’s okay to invest in a stainless steel guard. This will protect the plastic container while allowing the heater to boil the water quickly. Please note, you should always keep an eye on the bucket heater and the water throughout this process. Otherwise, you may put the entire setup at risk, which is never a good thing while outdoors.

In most cases, this is going to take no more than 10-15 minutes to get the job done.

Open Fire - How To Heat Water Over A Campfire

A photo of heating water over a campfire

This is a traditional option that was common a few decades ago when high-tech solutions were not available. As a result, campers used what was available to them in their surroundings, which involved creating an open campfire. The campfire was a great way to set up a pot, heat the water, and use nothing more than firewood and matches. It’s important to note, you don’t require a pan in this situation as even something as simple as a paper cup can suffice.

You have to make sure the pot or cup is placed over the hot coals and allowed to boil naturally.

When you are doing this, make sure to use a good amount of firewood and ensure the sticks are smaller in size. This ensures you can quickly start a campfire before adding larger sticks later on to maintain heat. Also, take the time to focus on keeping the pot on top of the coals, so it doesn’t lose heat as time goes on. This is the only way you are going to get it to boil successfully.

While managing a process such as this, most campers set up rocks along the campfire to hold the pot/cup. This allows them to walk around without having to have someone hold the pot/cup as it gets hotter. After 10-20 minutes, the water is going to reach the boiling point and that is when you can use it as you please.

Remember, the container is going to be hot once the water has been boiled. As a result, you want to be careful while managing it and that includes using a rag to lift it. Otherwise, you are going to be risking your skin and health. This has to be done carefully and with a plan in mind. Most people use something similar to a hook to grab onto the pan as a way to reduce skin contact with the boiled water.

Final Thoughts

The rule of thumb is you are going to need at least one minute of full heat per cup of water to reach the boiling point. This is assuming you are placing the cup over a campfire.

If you have a portable stove and fuel then boiling water is simple. I have seen plenty of campers who bring a stove for this reason and use the campfire for warmth.

But you can use any of these options to boil water.

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