Best way to boil water while camping
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How to Boil Water When Camping: The Ultimate Guide

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Boiling water while camping is an important skill to learn before heading into the wilderness. If you’re new to camping, you might want some tips on boiling water in a pot over an open fire.

When you go camping, one of the most important things you need to learn is how to boil water. Drinking contaminated water can make you very sick and in some cases, even kill you.

I think the best way to boil water camping is my trusty JetBoil stove. It can be put together and have water boiling within 5 minutes start to finish.

Yes, you can bring water with you, but at 8 pounds per gallon, it gets heavy FAST. We usually bring 2 gallons and then get the rest from the camping spigot or filter or boil the rest.

Read on to learn the different ways to boil water, then choose your favorite water boiling method and get camping!

7 Best Methods for Boiling Water While Camping

There are a lot of ways to boil water while camping, and how you want to do it depends on your ideal camping experience.

If you’re camping in an RV, you probably have a stove you’re familiar with for heating water in your camper. If you’re tent camping, here are some methods.

1. Jetboil

If you ask me, a Jet Boil is the easiest way to boil water camping. A Jetboil system or portable stove is amazing for boiling water for making food.

We love our Jet Boil Flash because it can boil 2 cups of water in less than 3 minutes.

When you’re hungry from hiking, time is of the essence. A Jet boil stove system is a purpose built camping stove created to boil water quickly.

2. Solo Stove Lite

A Solo Stove Lite and the Pot 900 is a very quick and easy way to boil water. The Solo Stove Lite only needs sticks to keep going and the Pot 900 is the perfect size to boil a small amount of water (it holds 900mL) quickly. 

Often times when we’re boiling water, we only need 1-2 cups at a time, so our Solo stove is a perfect option.

It can boil water within 10 minutes, which doesn’t make it the fastest option for heating water, but it is still rather quick.

3. Coleman Fold N Go Camp Stove

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We love our Coleman Fold N Go stove, and it’s been going strong for over a decade.

Camping stoves are amazing at boiling a larger amount of water. You can put a big pot onto your camp stove and get a lot of water boiling for large family camping trips.

Woman using Coleman fold n go stove

This is also the method we use when we’re getting ready to wash dishes. We’ll make food, then start water boiling slowly on the camping stove while we’re eating. By the time we’re done eating the water has reached it’s boiling point.

4. Campfire and Grate

Campfires aren’t just for roasting marshmallows. Most camp sites have a designated fire pit, and a lot of them have a built in grate.

If yours doesn’t have a grate you can use a tripod to hold your small pot over the flames.

If you’ve built a good fire, you should have a nice rolling boil in no time. You can even use a traditional kettle over an open fire to make your morning coffee.

5. Electric Kettle

If you have access to electricity, you can bring all manner of ways to boil water camping. From an electric kettle, a coffee pot, to a hotplate, all you need is a power outlet and you’re in business.

If you’re car camping, a lot of cars have an auxiliary power outlet (an actual outlet, or the cigarette lighter) or you can bring a portable generator or battery bank. Jackery makes options that are strong enough to power a coffee pot.

6. Ghillie Camping Kettle

Photo Credit: https://www.campingkettle.com/camping-kettles

There is an amazing kettle that actually has the fire inside it, called a ghillie kettle, or an internal flame kettle. It boils water very fast since the flame is so close to the water. Check out the website here to see it in action!

7. Charcoal Grill

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A charcoal grill is always an option, especially if you were cooking food over the grill and the coals are still hot.

Starting charcoal just to boil water will take a while and may be the longest way to boil water we’ve listed. We used to have a small grill like this, but the jetboil is literally so much faster.

Reasons for Boiling Water While Camping

Disinfect Water

If you’re unsure of a water source’s drinkability and you don’t have a filter, always boil your water. The only time I’ve felt safe drinking unfiltered water from a natural source was in Iceland where the water was literally melting off of a glacier. 

faucet with brown water drop

So if you’re in an amazing National Park like Glacier or Wrangell-St. Elias, this may be an option for you. Otherwise it’s best to take proper safety precautions and boil your water.

Making Food

Cup of noodles

There are a lot of awesome “just add water” food to bring camping, I’m a big fan of the Biscuits and Gravy from Mountain House. Oatmeal is also an amazing option.

Hot Drinks

hot chocolate with marshmallows

When it’s night time in the great outdoors, not much beats sitting near a campfire ring while sipping a hot beverage. We love heating up water for hot drinks like cocoa, chicken broth, tea or instant coffee! 

I also know that there are many people who live for their first sip of morning coffee made over the first campfire of the day. For warm drinks, you’ll just need to heat water and not actually boil it.

If you love cool nights by the campfire, hot drinks are essential.

Washing Up

Lady washing dishes

We always boil water while camping to wash dishes. And if you or your kids are dirty, you don’t want to give yourself a quick wash up in cold water.

Boiling water and adding it to some cold water quickly creates water that is the perfect temperature for a quick baby bath.

Cleaning

Bucket with soap suds

If your kids have smeared marshmallows onto the picnic table and you’d rather not attract critters, you gotta get the sticky stuff off somehow.

Using hot water is often the best option. Boil water, and dump it onto the table, after a little light scrubbing, it should be clean in no time.

Boiling water is a great way to cook food while camping and to make safe water to drink. It’s easy, efficient, and safe when you know what you’re doing.

In this guide, we’ll teach you everything there is to know about boiling water while camping so that your next trip will be a breeze!

How To Boil Water Over a Campfire

If you really want to feel like you’re really roughing it, you can always boil water over the campfire.

What You’ll Need to Boil Water Over a Campfire:

  • A pot or pan with a lid
  • A fire pit or open area to start a fire
  • Something to set the pot on, such as a metal grate or tripod with a chain
  • Firewood
  • Matches or a lighter

Using a Campfire to Boil Water:

When you’re starting a fire at your campsite for boiling water, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

  1. The location needs to be in an open area with plenty of space for your fire and cooking equipment. This will also make it safer when building a fire because the wind won’t be blowing around any sparks that may get caught up in trees or brush.
  2. The size of your fire should be based on how much water needs to be boiled, as well as what kind of equipment you’re using. You don’t need anything big when boiling over an open flame since you’ll want a concentrated fire to heat the water as efficiently as possible.
  3. You’ll need some type of stand or platform that holds your pot above the fire while allowing airflow underneath. A camping tripod is a great option. DO not have your pot or kettle too far away from the flames. You’ll need consistent heat for the water to reach a nice rolling boil.

How to Build a Fire for Boiling Water

Building a fire may seem like an intimidating task, but it’s actually pretty easy when you know what to do.

Here are some tips on how to build a fire for boiling water:

Campfire
  • Use dry twigs as kindling and place them in the center of your fire area with larger logs around them. Add more wood as needed until enough heat is generated so that your pot or pan will start to boil. You can also use a bit of lighter fluid if needed.
  • Make sure the fire is in an open area so that there’s plenty of space for the heat and smoke to escape. Blocking either one could cause the fire to become dangerous very quickly!
  • When adding new wood, try to keep it at a similar size as what’s already burning. This will reduce smoke production by ensuring the fire stays hot enough without having large gaps between pieces.

Check out our post on how to start an amazing campfire so you can boil water in the most efficient way possible.

How to Safely Dispose of Your Used Fuel Canisters

After boiling water for your camping trip, you might be wondering what to do with any unused fuel cannisters.

If you have an empty jetboil fuel canister, first you need to make sure it’s completely empty. The best way to do that is to light your stove and run it completely dry. As the cannister gets empty the flame may flicker, but make sure you burn it until the flame is out.

Once it’s empty, use the Jetboil Crunchit tool to condense it and recycle the metal. Please be sure the canister is completely empty.

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Check with your recycling center to see if they take empty fuel tanks from canister stoves.

If you’re using a camping stove that uses a bigger fuel tank, like the green propane tanks, sadly those aren’t usually recyclable.

Food and Drinks to Make with Hot Water

Once you’ve boiled water for your camping trip, there are many possibilities for instant meals and hot drinks. Somehow everything tastes better while you’re camping.

Here are our favorite food and drinks to make with boiled water while camping:

hot drinks while camping
  1. Instant Oatmeal
  2. Hot Chocolate
  3. Ramen Noodles
  4. Macaroni and Cheese
  5. Soup
  6. Hot Dogs
  7. Boiled Eggs
  8. Tea or Coffee
  9. Chicken Broth
  10. Hot Cider

The best part about these recipes is that they’re easy to prepare and really don’t require any extra equipment or utensils. Just bring a pot or pan with you camping, and you’ll be able to cook up a delicious meal in no time!

Having some instant food options is essential if a rainstorm chases you into your tent right before mealtime. Just boil some water and enjoy some easy-to-make entrees while you’re cozy in your tent!

How to Boil Water That’s for Safe Drinking

The CDC recommends bringing water to a rolling boil for at least one minute to make it safe to drink. This should kill any harmful bacteria or viruses that may be present in the water. If you are at a higher elevation, it’s best to add 1-2 minutes to the time to ensure the water is safe for drinking.

You can also use a camp stove, portable burner, or even an open flame to boil water for drinking. Just make sure the pot is large enough so that the entire volume of water can be boiled at once.

FAQs

Precautions

Any of these methods for boiling water are obviously going to get very hot, so watch all children around fires, camping stoves, electric kettles and hot plates.

If you’re heating water for food or drinks, make sure it’s cooled off enough for small children before allowing them to go all in with the hot chocolate. You should have burn cream in your first aid kit anyway, but no one actually wants to have to use it.

Boiling Water For Camping is Easy

Boiling water while camping is not difficult, but it does take some practice to be efficient. The best way to learn how to do this activity properly is by going out into nature and trying it out for yourself.

With a little bit of preparation and some common sense, you’ll be able to boil water like a pro and enjoy all the benefits that come with it!

Now that you know everything there is to know about boiling water while camping, it’s time to get out there and start cooking! These simple tips will make your next camping trip a lot easier than ever before.

Happy Camping!

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