Whether you’re backpacking deep into the wilderness or setting up camp at one of your favourite national parks, one thing you’ll need to know is how to boil water when camping.
Boiling water is necessary for a variety of reasons. It’s essential for cooking food, making hot drinks, sterilizing drinking water and bathing. In this article, I’ll share 12 different ways to boil water plus some tips and tricks to use on your next camping trip.
If you are in a hurry, here’s the shortlist. If you’d like to learn more, click on the links to jump to that section.
- Electric Kettles
- Camp Stoves
- Charcoal Grill
- Internal Flame Kettle
- Traditional Kettle
- Solar Kettle
- Bucket Heaters
- Jetboil Systems
- Propane Stove
- Open Fire
- Immersion Heaters
- Car Electric Kettle
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How To Boil Water When Camping (In-Depth)
1. Electric Kettles
An electric pot is a great option when it comes to boiling water when camping IF you have access to electricity. They are easy to use and very effective at heating water consistently.
Most electric camping kettles are quite affordable and only take about 2 to 3 minutes to bring water to a rolling boil. They are also lightweight and compact, making them easy to pack and transport.
Overall, electric kettles are a convenient and efficient way to boil water while camping, as long as you have access to electrical outlets.
2. Camp Stoves
There are various types of camp stoves to choose from, depending on your needs and preferred fuel source. Here are some of the most common types:
- Canister stoves: These are lightweight and easy to use. They use pre-filled fuel canisters and can boil a pot of water quickly.
- Alcohol fuel stoves: These stoves are great however, it can be hard to find someone that supplies regular methyl alcohol.
- Wood-burning stoves: These stoves use twigs and other small pieces of wood as fuel, making them eco-friendly and cost-effective. However, they can be slow to boil water and require more effort to use.
When choosing a camp stove, consider factors such as weight, fuel efficiency, ease of use, and environmental impact. I’ll go over some of the more popular ones below.
3. Charcoal Grills
Charcoal grills are a popular choice for cooking food and boiling water. To boil water with a charcoal grill, first, you need to light the charcoal and let it get hot. Once the charcoal is hot, you can place your pot or kettle on the grates of the grill and wait for the water to boil.
One of the advantages of using a charcoal grill is that it can provide a consistent and even source of heat. Additionally, charcoal grills are relatively easy to find and can be purchased at most camping stores or online.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using a charcoal grill to boil water:
- Make sure the grill is set up in a safe and stable location. You don’t want hot coals tipping over and falling everywhere.
- Make sure you use enough coals. We’ve made this mistake in the past and without enough coals, you simply won’t get enough heat to boil water.
- You need to dispose of the hot coals properly once you’re done with the grill. We don’t want to start any forest fires!
4. Internal Flame Kettles
Before we got our camper, we would always bring our internal flame kettle with us. This type of kettle is also known as a volcano kettle, Kelly kettle or Ghillie kettle. It is designed to boil water quickly and efficiently, using an internal flame to heat the water.
There are a few really cool things about these kettles.
- You don’t have to pack fuel because they burn all-natural fuel such as twigs, pine cones, dry grass and bark.
- They work extremely well in windy and stormy weather conditions because everything is contained.
- They are lightweight and very portable which makes them easy to pack along with your camping gear.
There are also different sizes of internal flame kettles available, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Some kettles are designed to hold just enough water for a single cup of tea, while others can hold several litres of water.
5. Traditional Kettles
Nothing revolutionary here, but using a traditional campfire kettle is a reliable and easy way to boil water when camping. The only downfall of using a traditional kettle is that it needs an additional heat source (such as a campfire or camping stove).
Most traditional kettles are made of stainless steel, which is durable and easy to clean. If you have a heat source to use one on, this is a great option.
6. Solar Kettle
These things are really cool! A solar-powered kettle uses the sun’s energy to heat water and they are an excellent choice if you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to boil water while camping. They are also lightweight and easy to throw in a backpack or into your camping gear.
I have used a solar kettle on several camping trips and have found it to be a convenient and effective method for boiling water. Here are a few important things to note:
- You will not get instant boiling water. It will take at least an hour (with the optimal sun conditions) but it could take HOURS if it’s cloudy or overcast.
- They are great if you will be camping in a “no-burn” zone (or if there are fire bans) as there is no open flame involved.
If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly way to boil water, this is it! You can also get a solar water heating bag which is great for taking outdoor showers.
7. Bucket Heaters
When it comes to boiling water when camping, a bucket heater is not your best option. I have, however, added it because it is a great way to heat water up quickly to the almost boiling point.
Here’s how it works:
- First, you need to fill a bucket with water. Make sure to leave enough space for the bucket heater to be submerged.
- Next, plug in the bucket heater and submerge it in the water. The heating element will quickly heat the water up.
- Once the water is hot enough, turn off the bucket heater and unplug it from the power source.
- Finally, carefully remove the bucket heater from the water and use the hot water for your needs.
A bucket heater is a great way to heat up water for things such as washing dishes and bathing the kids (so you’re not dipping your hands or children into scalding hot water). Don’t expect to cook anything or sterilize contaminated water using this method.
Never leave the bucket heater unattended while it’s plugged in and make sure to unplug it from the power source before removing it from the water.
8. Jetboil Systems
One of the most popular options is the Jetboil stove system (and for good reason.) You can have a nice steaming cup of coffee in your hands in about 3 minutes with one of these units.
An advantage of the Jetboil system is that it is purpose-built for camping and backpacking, which means it is designed to be lightweight and compact.
Another advantage of the Jetboil system is that it is very efficient. It is designed to maximize the heat output and direct it towards the cooking pot, which means you can boil water quickly and with minimal fuel consumption.
It’s also worth noting that Jetboil offers a variety of stove systems to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences. They’re a bit pricier than some other options, but the convenience and performance make it well worth the investment.
9. Propane Stoves
Again, nothing revolutionary here but a propane portable stove is a great option to use for boiling water while camping. They are simple to use and there are so many different ones to choose from, depending on how much water you need to boil and other needs.
When using a propane stove, it is important to follow safety precautions. Always use the stove in a well-ventilated area and keep it away from flammable materials. And be sure to pack an extra fuel canister or two so you don’t run out.
10. Open Fires
I know it’s an obvious one, but boiling water over an open fire is easy and requires minimal equipment. I recommend having a good campfire kettle and fire poker for removing the hot kettle.
A fire pit with a grill is also required unless you also have a campfire cooking stand. It is important to use caution when building an open fire, as they can quickly get out of control.
Be aware of any fire bans in the area and always keep a bucket of water or a shovel nearby in case the fire needs to be put out quickly.
11. Electric Immersion Heaters
These small, portable devices can heat water quickly and easily, without the need for a stove or campfire. They do, however, require an electrical power source and are best used in a campground with hookups.
Although car immersion heaters do exist, I have yet to have found one that I would confidently recommend.
To use an immersion heater, simply fill a cup or saucepan with water and submerge the heater in the liquid. The heater will then heat up the water, allowing you to use it for cooking or drinking.
**Make sure that the unit is submerged in liquid at ALL TIMES when it is plugged in. Place it in the liquid before you plug it in, and unplug it once the water boils before removing it (wait about 10 seconds) or it will overheat and likely stop working.**
12. Car Electric Kettle
These kettles are designed to heat up water using your car’s auxiliary power outlet. They do not produce instant heat, but usually within 45 minutes, you will have a boiled cup of water. This is a good option if you’re car camping.
Here are a few things to consider before picking up a car kettle:
- They are quite slow and may drain your vehicle’s battery if you leave it plugged in for too long or use it too much.
- A vehicle is required to use it so if you’re backpacking or camping off the grid, this is not a viable option.
How Do You Boil Water Fast While Camping?
In my opinion, the fastest and easiest way to boil water fast while camping is with a Jetboil cooking system. In less than 4 minutes you can have boiling water.
How Long Does It Take to Boil Water For Camping?
The time it takes to boil water for camping depends on the method you use. With a Jetboil or camp stove, under 5 minutes. If you’re using a campfire or solar kettle, it can take much longer.
How Do You Boil a Kettle When Camping?
To boil a kettle when camping you can use 1 of the following methods. Over a campfire, on a camp stove, on a bbq or on a portable propane bottle top stove. This will depend on the resources available.
What is the Best Way to Purify Water While Camping?
According to the CDC, “boiling water for at least 1 minute (3 if you’re above 6500 feet) is the best way to purify water.” The goal is to heat the water hot enough to kill off any viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens.
Before You Go…
Now that you know how to boil water when camping, you need to know what the best camping griddles are so that you can cook up some amazing food! Read my next article to see my top picks…