It’s always important to be prepared for camping trips; boiling water is no exception. So what do you do when you are camping and need hot water? Unfortunately, you can’t just turn on the stove or use the microwave to boil some water.
There are many ways to boil water when you’re out in the great outdoors, but not all of them are safe or practical. In this article, we’ll look at various methods that can help make your next camping trip run smoothly.
We cover all sorts of methods to boil water, whether you are camping and have access to electricity and full hookups or camping in the middle of nowhere.
We’ll also touch on situations when you need to boil water and the precautions to take.
Reasons to Boil Water When Camping
There are many reasons why you may need to boil water when camping. One of the most obvious is for cooking food. If you are camping and want to cook anything that requires boiling water, you must have hot water available.
Another reason to boil water when camping is for purification. If you are camping in an area where the water is unsafe to drink, you will need to boil it before drinking it.
Here are some reasons you may need to boil water:
- Wash your face
- Drinking water
Does boiling water make it safe to drink?
When you go camping, taking water with you from home is best. This way, you know the water is safe to drink.
Many campgrounds have drinking water available onsite. However, you must be careful if you are taking water from a natural source.
Because I am not a water or bacteria expert, here is more information from the Environmental Protection Agency on drinking water safety.
The CDC recommends you bring clear water to a rolling boil for one minute before use.
How Do You Boil Water When Camping?
It is important to know how to boil water when you go camping. There are many ways to get the job done, and we will cover some of the most popular methods here.
You can use a pot on a campfire, an electric kettle (if you have a power source), or a propane stove, to name a few.
Here are some of the best ways to boil water:
All in One Canister (Jetboil)
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The Jetboil system is an all-in-one device that makes boiling water easy and fast. It is a pot, stove, and ignitor switch all in one, and it connects to the gas canister with a simple twist.
Once the Jetboil system is set up, turn on the gas and use the ignitor switch to light it up. Then, in no time at all, you’ll have boiling water to cook with or drink.
Boiling water with a Jetboil is extremely fast. In just a couple of minutes (even less on some models), you can have boiling hot water.
The Jetboil system is an excellent option for camping because it is fast and easy to use. You don’t need any extra equipment or tools; it is perfect for cooking or heating food or drinks.
High altitude can be challenging for some camp stoves. So, if you are camping at high altitudes or windy conditions, a Jetboil system is an excellent option.
A Jetboil is best if you don’t have a lot of mouths to feed. They are more designed for solo camping or camping with one other person. These are excellent for cooking oatmeal or freeze-dried meals. Also, great for coffee or hot cocoa.
One downside to using a Jetboil is it can be pricey. But, considering how efficient, compact, and lightweight they are, it’s more than worth it.
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A car kettle might be just what the doctor ordered if you are car camping. Car kettles use electricity from your car battery with a 12-volt cigarette lighter plugin.
A car kettle is excellent because they’re easy to set up and use. Just fill the kettle with water and plug it in.
This is a clean and effective way to boil water. You don’t need to build a messy campfire or fire up a propane stove to boil water when camping.
If there are fire restrictions and you can’t light a fire, a car kettle can be a great way to heat up that morning cup of joe.
Traditional Propane Camp Stove
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Another way to boil water when camping is to use a propane camp stove. These are very popular and often used by people who enjoy camping in a car, truck, or SVU.
Many popular models are equipped with two or three burners, which is great if you cook for an entire group since you can cook and boil water simultaneously.
A propane camp stove is easy to set up and use. You just attach the gas canister to the bottom of the stove and press the ignition switch.
Some models require a flame to light the stove, but some come with auto-ignition.
Once it’s lit, one of the best features is turning on the heat control dial to find the right temperature for your boiling water needs.
Another great feature of these larger propane camp stoves is that they have wind-blocking panels to keep your flames from going out when the wind blows.
The downside to a gas camping stove is the size. These stoves are good if you have a lot of space to pack gear, but not if you are backpacking, etc.
Not only is the stove bulky, but you have to include 1lb propane tanks or a larger 20lb propane tank.
Okay, time for a traditional way to boil water when camping, a good old campfire. Campfires can be used to cook food and also for boiling water.
The great thing about using a campfire to boil water is that you often already have a campfire going. A campfire is PART OF camping. A campfire is an essential element of many camping trips.
Campfires are versatile, and it’s easy to toss a cast iron pot full of water in a fire and have boiling water.
There are many different ways you can boil water using a campfire. For example, you can use a pot, as just referenced, a kettle over the fire, or even a tin can if you have one from other food you have been cooking (i.e., a can of green beans).
If your firepit has a grate over the top, this is a super-easy way to boil water using a kettle, pot, or another container. You also set a pot or kettle on rocks next to the fire.
This method requires more effort than other methods, and it requires dry fuel (twigs, wood, etc.), but it will work in most cases.
The downside to using a campfire is this is not a quick method, like using a Jetboil. Instead, you have to build a campfire, get it nice and hot, and then ensure the fire is stone cold before leaving the campsite.
Campfires are messy compared to a propane stove or other canister-style boiling water method.
- THE CLEAN WATER FOR YOU--Your kettle is made with superior-quality 304 stainless...
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When camping at a campsite with electrical outlets, one of the easiest ways to boil water is to use an electric kettle.
Simply plug the kettle into the outlet, fill it with water, and press the button to start heating it up. Within a few minutes, you’ll have boiling water that you can use for coffee, tea, oatmeal, and more.
The best thing about using an electric kettle when camping is that you don’t have to carry any fuel. You just need to remember to pack the kettle and the cord.
Another great thing about electric kettles is they come in various sizes, so you can find one that is perfect for your needs. Also, you don’t have to build a messy campfire.
An electric kettle is also a good option if there is a burn ban and you can’t build a campfire.
When camping, the downside to using an electric kettle is that not all campsites have electrical outlets. So if you are backpacking, this is not the best option for you.
Kelly Kettle – Internal flame
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Some people may have to boil water to have drinking water when they are camping. This is easy if you have a Kelly Kettle with you.
A Kelly Kettle is a canister with an internal flame that can heat up water quickly. You build a small fire, pour water into the kettle, and put the kettle on top of the flame.
One minor issue with using an internal flame canister is knowing how to start a mini-fire in the unit’s base. This can be accomplished using many of the resources you can find outdoors in the wilderness.
If you can gather some small forest debris, like pine needles, twigs, dry leaves, etc., you can pretty quickly start a fire in the canister, so you can boil water.
A Kelly Kettle is a compact, lightweight camping accessory for backpacking or car camping. It’s a versatile tool to have with you when you are camping.
If you are camping at a campsite with a charcoal grill, one of the easiest ways to boil water is to use the grill.
Simply build a fire in the grill, place the pot or kettle on the grate, and wait for the water to boil.
This is a quick and easy way to boil water while camping. Charcoal grills are commonly found at day-use sites and national forest campsites.
One downside is that you need to pack charcoal with you, which can be heavy, take up space and be messy. But you can use the grill for cooking as well.
Also, you cannot use a charcoal grill if there is a burn ban.
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If you have electricity and need to heat up a lot of water, a bucket heater (also known as an immersion heater) might be the answer.
You can’t actually bring water to a boil with a bucket heater, but it can work very well if you have dishes to wash, kids, or laundry to clean. Also, a bucket heater works really well for heating water for a portable camping shower.
A bucket heater is a wand that you submerge in a bucket of water. The water will heat up quickly, and within a few minutes, you’ll have hot water ready to use.
The downside to using a bucket heater is needing a power source. However, if you have access to water and have a bucket with you, this is a good option given the heater’s limitations.
We touched on using a tin can earlier, but it’s worth calling out here. Tin cans are very versatile. For example, you can use a tin can over a campfire, a charcoal grill, a propane stove, etc.
If you lack other cookware, you can use a tin can in a pinch.
Be careful, though, the can will get extremely hot, and unlike other cookware, a tin can does not have a handle to grab onto.
Single Burner Stove
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When you are camping, there are several ways to boil water. A single-burner stove is a great option.
There are many different kinds of single-burner camp stoves available on the market. Some run on propane, while others use disposable canisters of fuel (butane, kerosene, etc.).
If you are backpacking or car camping, a single-burner stove is an excellent option to have with you. They are lightweight and compact, and many of them come with their own carrying case.
Single burner stoves are the way to go if you are backpacking or camping off the grid. The downside to using a single burner stove (depending on how long your trip is) is that you need fuel.
For other options, like a Kelly Kettle, you can use fuel that you find along the way (twigs, leaves, etc.) to fuel your fire.
One issue with single burner stoves (liquid fuel especially) is there is a chance the fuel can spill on your gear, leaving you with a stinky mess.
Solid Fuel Stove
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A solid-fuel stove is one of the best ways to boil water when camping. With a smaller profile, these stoves also pack down very small.
Solid fuel stoves are excellent in emergencies or when you’re out camping and need to boil water quickly. Fuel tabs burn cleanly and efficiently.
They can be used in nearly any weather condition and require little maintenance or cleaning. The downside of these stoves is that they are not ideal for frequent use, as you will need access to more fuel tabs after each use.
Consider using a solid-fuel stove if you’re looking for a great way to boil water while camping. These stoves are small, durable, and can be used in nearly any weather condition.
You can burn 500ml of water in about 8 minutes.
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An electric burner is a good option for boiling water when camping. This method can work well as long as you have access to an electrical power source.
The burners are also incredibly lightweight, so they are easy to carry if you are camping for the day. An electric burner is easy to pack away and fit in small spaces.
The obvious downside of using an electric burner is that it requires a power source, so this might not be an option if you’re remote camping or backpacking.
If you need to boil water and have access to power, using an electric burner is a solid way to go. These burners are lightweight, compact, and easy to use.
Using an electric burner is a great way to introduce yourself to camping, with a bit of the comfort of home.
How Long Does It Take To Boil Water When You Are Camping?
Depending on what method you are using to boil water, how much water you use, and the type of pot or kettle, it will vary on how long it takes.
For example, you can have boiled water in about 10 minutes with a solid-fuel stove.
With a Jetboil system, you can boil water in as little as 100 seconds. Of course, the boiling times can vary greatly with a good old campfire depending on how hot your fire is.
There are many ways to boil water when camping, but the most efficient way is with a Jetboil system. These systems can heat up your pot in as little as 100 seconds and are lightweight enough to carry it anywhere.
If you don’t have access to power or want something more sustainable for backpacking, consider bringing one of these solid fuel stoves. They burn cleanly and efficiently without leaving too much mess behind.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
What is your favorite way to boil water when you are camping?
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.