How To Boil Water While Camping – 7 Easy & Useful Methods

a pot of boiling water next to a campfire

When you’re camping, even the most simple tasks require careful planning.

Take boiling water, for example.

It sounds simple enough, but if you don’t have the necessary equipment, you won’t have much luck. That’s why you need to decide on a water boiling method beforehand – and make sure you pack accordingly.

If you’re undecided on how to boil water while camping, I’ll show you a bunch of different ways you can do it, so you can choose the method that best suits you.

Want to find out more?

Let’s jump straight in!

Before You Start Boiling

There are 2 reasons for boiling water on a camping trip:

  1. You don’t have any clean drinking water so you need to boil some from a lake or river.
  2. You just need hot water – for cooking, rehydrating food, showering etc.

If the water you’re boiling is already clean, you can skip this section.

However, if you’re purifying water from a nearby water source like a lake or river, it might have sand, rocks, grass or sticks in it. You’ll want to remove these before you boil the water.

To do so, line a pot with a clean cloth, and strain the water through the cloth into the pot.

Or, you can put another empty pot next to your pot of water, and hang a cloth between the two pots. Then, just wait until the water has transferred from one pot to the other.

This will get rid of all the bits and pieces that you can see floating around in the water.

To get rid of all the things you can’t see floating around in there, you’ll need to proceed to boil the water using one of the following methods.

7 Ways To Boil Water While Camping

Once you’ve gotten rid of any chunky bits that are floating around in the water, it’s time to start boiling.

But, how are you going to do that?

Well, there are several ways you can go about it. The method you choose will depend mainly on what you’ll be using the boiled water for, how much of it you need, and what kind of gear you’ve got available to you.

To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, here are a few camping friendly methods commonly used to boil water.

The Camping Stove Method

The most common, and perhaps the most straightforward method of boiling water while camping is on your camping stove.

Fill a pot with water, and place it over your portable stove until the water boils. Just like you would on your stove at home.

If you’re boiling water to purify it, let it boil on the camp stove for at least 1 minute. I like to let it boil for 2-3 minutes just to be sure.

And… that’s it. It’s as simple as that.

The Campfire Method

2 pots of water boiling over a campfire

If you haven’t got any type of camping stove with you on your camping trip, you can light a campfire and use that as your heat source.

Just place a pot of water over the campfire, on a rack or straight onto the coals. Leave it there until it comes to a rolling boil.

Again, if your aim is water purification, let it boil for a few minutes to make sure you kill off all the pathogens.

Campfires can get pretty hot, so make sure you’ve got some oven mitts on when you’re taking your pot of water off the fire.

The Ghillie Camping Kettle Method

A Ghillie Kettle, otherwise known as a Kelly Kettle, Volcano Kettle, Storm Kettle, Thermette, or internal flames kettle, is a camping kettle that actually contains a fire inside at the bottom, and features a central chimney.

These are really cool, because they’re a super eco-friendly solution. They don’t require any fuel, and you can light the fire inside using sticks, leaves and grass that you pick up along the way.

They’ve actually been making these since the 1920s in the UK, but they’ve only recently become more popular here in the US.

They don’t weigh much (usually around 1 lb) so they’re suitable for backpackers. But, they only hold around 16 oz. of water, so you can’t boil large amounts at a time using this method.

The Jetboil Cooking System Method

If you’re backpacking, you might want to consider the Jetboil cooking system. It’s compact and very lightweight, and it can boil water faster than any other method.

In fact, the newer model (the Jetboil Flash) lets you boil 16 oz. of water in under 100 seconds. Now, that’s pretty quick.

These are pretty expensive, so you might not be able to afford one if you’re camping on a budget. But, if keeping your load light is a priority, investing in one of these babies is definitely worth it.

The Bucket Heater Method

a bucket heater heating a bucket of water

If you need to boil large amounts of water at a time, using a bucket heater is an easy way to do it. These are metal rods that you submerge in a large bucket of water to bring it to a boil.

Using this method, you can easily heat up enough water to take a nice, hot shower at your campsite.

Note that this method requires a power source. Unless you’re camping at a campground with electrical sockets at your disposal, you’ll need to have a camping generator to power the bucket heater.

The Solar Kettle Method

A solar kettle is a type of thermos that utilizes energy from the sun to heat water. During the day, a solar kettle can boil water for coffee, tea, soups, rehydrating dried foods, and purifying contaminated water for drinking.

The obvious downside is that you can’t use these once the sun goes down. Other than that, they’re a pretty nifty piece of gear to have on hand.

They’re great for the environment, too, as they don’t create any kind of waste whatsoever.

The Car Kettle Method

Finally, if you’re car camping, you can use a 12V car kettle to boil your water. These attach to the lighter socket in your car, drawing power from your car’s battery.

These come in various sizes, but they’re generally not very big. That said, they’re a great solution if you’re just looking to make a quick round of camping coffee or ramen noodles.

Heating Water With Solar Shower Bags

a man taking a shower outdoors using a solar water heating bag

If you don’t actually need your water to reach boiling point, and you just want hot water to take a nice, warm shower, I suggest getting a solar water heating bag.

These have a hose with a shower head that attaches to the bag, so you can hang it up and use it like a regular shower at home. You can even get a shower tent for extra privacy, if you’re camping with a larger group of people.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, there are loads of different ways to boil water while camping.

A portable stove or a campfire are both classic methods you can use for a variety of purposes.

If you only need a little bit of water at a time, a Ghillie Kettle, solar kettle or 12V car kettle will do the trick just fine.

If you need to boil large quantities of water at a time, a bucket heater is probably the best way to go.

In any case, whatever your water boiling needs may be, you should definitely be able to find a good solution in this article.

Just be careful not to burn yourself!