When you go out camping, several staples will make it an enjoyable experience. Camp chairs, food, and beverages are some that come to mind. If you’re out for a prolonged period, a shower of some sort is also quite lovely. While camp chairs are easy, the others require some preparation and forethought, including boiling water. If you want to boil water camping, you’ll need to be prepared. However, know that it’s not hard to boil water outdoors if you have some knowledge and the right equipment.
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How to Boil Water While Camping
There is really no best way to boil water camping, although some may be more convenient than others. Much of how you do it comes down to the type of camping you are doing, the camping equipment you have on hand, and the amount of water you need.
You can boil water using several methods, from a good old-fashioned campfire to portable propane stoves to fancier solar options. Of course, your altitude will affect the temperature water boils. With the boiling point being 212 degrees Fahrenheit at 0 feet elevation and going up from there, some of these methods may be better than others at different elevations.
To safely boil water while camping, you’ll always want to take some safety precautions. Remember that fire is hot, as is boiling water. It can very easily cause first-degree burns if scalding water accidentally comes in contact with the skin, so always be extra careful. Use heavy-duty gloves or oven mitts when handling hot pots or a specially designed handle for removing kettles or dutch ovens.
Boil Water Campfire
Cast Iron Kettle
The option to boil water over a fire is the oldest method in the books. You can easily boil water in a cast-iron kettle over a fire. These will be your most heavy-duty and longest-lasting option. Placing it on a grate or hanging it from a campfire cooking rack rather than putting it in contact with direct flames will prolong its life and give you years of use. But don’t panic if your kettle does come in contact with fire. Cast iron is rugged, and the occasional flame won’t do too much harm.
The Camp Chef Cast Iron Tea Pot is an excellent option if you want to boil water cast-iron kettle style. First, Camp Chef is a well-known brand for camping products synonymous with durability and quality. The sleek, simple design allows it to hang easily from a rack or sit effortlessly on a grate. Nothing fancy is needed to boil water over a campfire. Additionally, this kettle comes with a ceramic lining to prevent rust.
Another option is to boil water in a cast iron dutch oven. The method is the same as the kettle, but you’ll typically be able to boil a larger quantity of water. A high-quality dutch oven is the 8-quart Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven. Lodge is another brand that offers excellent quality outdoor products and is known for its cast-iron in particular. This particular dutch oven is made of heavy-duty cast iron and heats evenly. It comes pre-seasoned and works well hung from a rack, placed on a grate, or nestled in coals.
Boil Water Propane Stoves
There are several options to boil water camping using a propane stove. Some are heavier options and best for car camping, while others are lightweight enough for backpacking or backcountry use.
Propane Camping Stove
The first is a standard one- or two-burner stove that runs off standard propane. You can buy 16-ounce cylinders to operate them or use a special hose and attachments to hook it up to a larger propane tank. You’ll need a pot, kettle, or other containers to boil the water in. Obviously, it needs to be able to withstand high heat. These are heavy, so they are best for car or RV camping.
Most RV’s also have propane stoves that operate off propane in the same way. They’re just set up a little differently, but the concept is the same, and you can use them all to boil water.
Canister Stove – Jetboil
The second option is a smaller, lightweight canister stove system such as the Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove. These stoves require a propane/isobutane fuel mixture that comes in 100-gram, 230-gram, and 450-gram canisters. Several brands make this fuel, and you can use it interchangeably in canister stoves as long as you double-check the mixtures are the same. There are also some blends designed to be more efficient in cold weather.
The Jetboil heats water in about 100 seconds using minimal fuel. They are popular with backpackers since they are lightweight. Jetboil uses include boiling water for freeze-dried food as well. They are also a good option for car camping as they are quick and efficient and stow easily.
Boil Water Internal Flames Kettle
An internal flames kettle is another great way to boil water without propane. It requires sticks and other organic combustible materials that burn. It operates in much the same way as canister stoves, but you don’t have to pack propane.
The Kelly Kettle is a lightweight, stainless steel option. It’s all you need to boil water because it is a self-contained water holder and has a chamber for adding fuels to burn. It will boil water in minutes, and the best part is you’ll never need to carry fuel again!
Boil Water Using Solar
Yet another option for boiling water while camping (oh, the endless possibilities!) is the solar route. These can take longer and obviously rely on the sun, but this may not be an issue depending on where you’re using them. These may not be an ideal option in colder, cloudier climates.
Solar Water Heating Bags
While these bags are not designed to boil water, they can undoubtedly get it plenty hot given the right conditions. These are a better option for heating water for showering outdoors or off grid. In ideal circumstances, they can get hot enough for a hot beverage. They would also likely work okay for a freeze-dried meal, but only in a pinch since boiling water is preferred (for the freeze-dried meals, not the shower!).
These bags are highly affordable and environmentally friendly, as the only energy they require is from the sun. However, in places where the sun doesn’t shine much, or it’s winter, you may be waiting a long time for your water to heat, if it does at all. Circumstances do matter, so keep that in mind.
Finally, we get to the option to boil water with a solar oven. Many solar ovens can reach high enough temperatures to boil water. If you have plenty of sunlight, you have plenty of energy to run one of these ovens.
The All American Sun Oven is a unique, interesting-looking appliance. At a weight of 23 pounds, unless you’re packing with livestock, it is too heavy to pack in on your back. However, it may be just the ticket to cook and boil water efficiently for RV living or car camping.
It can reach up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and has adjustable legs that help you angle it to get the most from the sun’s rays. It heats up to reasonably high temperatures in less than an hour, meaning the boiling point will be even less than that. You can also bake and cook in this unique device like a regular oven!
As you can see, there are lots of great ways to boil water camping. What works best for you will depend on the type of camping you are doing, if weight matters, the altitude you are at, and how much water you need to boil.
Whether you need boiling water for a freeze-dried meal, a cup of hot coffee in the morning, or to add to your shower water to warm it up, there is a method out there that will work for you. Fortunately, none of these methods are overly complex, ranging from just plain easy to a little more effort but not difficult.
The good news is many of these methods are pretty cost-effective, and experimenting will give you a great excuse to get outside in nature and do some practicing! Try a few of them out to decide what will truly work best for you.
The bottom line is to get out there, get camping, and get some water boiling if you need to. Don’t let the need to cook or boil water stop you from getting out in the great ol’ outdoors!