How to Boil Water Camping | 12 Best Methods to Boil Water Right

If you are going to the woods you need to know how to boil water camping. It’s a skill that every camper should know. There are many different ways to boil water when you’re in the wilderness, and we’ll give you 12 of them here. Whether it’s over a campfire or with a camp stove, there’s always a way for you to get boiling!

While many articles online will just discuss the types of vessels you can use to boil water in. Our focus will be dual, first to describe the many heat sources used for boiling water while camping. Then we will go on to the different types of pots you can use to boil water.

Why do I need to boil water camping you ask

The most important answer to why I need to boil water camping is for your safety. When you boil water (at 100 degrees celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit) you have the ability to purify water. Water that boils between one and five minutes will kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. If you are stuck in the woods and have to use water you find in your surroundings for survival, you must know how to boil water while camping.

does boiling water make it safe to drink

Once you have purified your water you can use it to clean your camping utensils, make instant foods with it, like soups, and even drink it if you have no other clean water.

Where to find water to boil while camping

When you plan to camp you should always determine your water needs and bring that with you from home. Treated water from the faucet is your safest choice. Some campgrounds provide potable water and make another good source. If in doubt about the campgrounds water source (perhaps it is well water) follow the same steps to boil it for camping.

where to find water to boil for camping

If while camping or hiking you run out of water, the best water sources to use are those that move. This would include creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes. Because the water move,s there is less chance it will stagnate. Stagnant water builds up more bacteria in it. While stagnant water can still be purified, it takes longer when boiling it. Stagnant water should be the last choice for a water source and be used in only the most extreme survival situation.

Steps to boil water while camping

  1. Skim water from the water source you found (moving water is best like a stream or lake).
  2. Let the water settle so heavier particles fall to the bottom of your vessel.
  3. Use a cloth or paper filter and strain the settled water into your pot or kettle.
  4. Place the pot or kettle on your heat source.
  5. Bring the water to a boil. NOTE: let the water boil for at least one minute.

What is the Best Way to Boil Water Camping

In discussing the best ways to boil water camping you should think about your individual experience and situation. There are several heat sources for boiling water and include fire, direct heat, and solar water boiling devices. 

Each method has both positives and negatives associated with them. For example, boiling water on a campfire has the ability to boil water quickly, but the downside with fire is it’s hard to control the temperature of the campfire.

Below we have listed out 12 water boiling methods. We are giving you some detailed information on each to help you decide the easiest way to boil water camping.

1. Camp Stove

camp stove

Camp stoves can come in many different shapes and sizes. The real benefit is that they are usually self-contained one-piece units. There are a lot of different fuel sources for camp stoves. Most are lightweight and small enough to fit in a backpack. usually, you can adjust the temperature of the flame. and they tend to work very well even in bad weather.

Using a camp stove to boil water while camping is pretty straightforward. Most camp stoves will receive pots, pans, and kettles easily on their burners. With a high flame, these stoves can boil camping water in about five minutes.

2. Wood Burning Camp Stove

wood burning camp stove

Another type of camp stove is the wood-burning camp stove. These units are great when you’re backpacking or hiking to your camping destination. The reason these make great hiking stoves is that they are lightweight and usually fold flat which is great because of the space-saving feature. 

They use small pieces of wood you find around your campsite.  This is handy because you do not have to hike fuel into your campsite.  However, this can be a drawback if you are hiking on rainy days. 

Due to the small size of this type of stove, it can take longer to boil your camping water. You may find it difficult to build a large enough fire in these units. They also are limited to how large a vessel we’ll fit on them.

As a side note, some people consider this type of stove more of a survival stove. They use it when they plan to use more primitive camping gear like making tents from tarps.

3. Propane Camp Stove

Propane camp stove

Propane camp stoves are a very reliable way to boil water camping. They use small propane tanks as fuel. There are both single and double burner models. Some are big enough to have large pots of water.

Propane camp stoves can vary in size. Some are perfect for hiking while the larger ones are made for car camping.

Boiling camping water on a propane camp stove is easy. You can set your flame temperature using a dial on the stove. Place your water in a pot or vessel and place over the fire until it boils. Propane camping stoves can boil water quickly.

4. Iso Butane Stove

alcohol stove

Another gas-powered camping stove is the ISO butane stove. These stoves have a very small footprint which makes them perfect for hiking and backpacking. They typically screw onto the case canister which becomes their base.

Boiling camp water on this type of stove is limited. Due to the size of these stoves, you can not boil a lot of water at once. Also, you have little control over the flame temperature so it may take a little longer for this unit to heat the water.

When hiking or backpacking this is a good water boiling device. It will work in all kinds of weather. To use it to boil water camping, find a metal cup or camp pot that will fit on the burner. Add water to that vessel and wait for the stove to heat the water to a boil.

5. Solid Fuel Stove

solid fuel camp stove

Solid fuel camp stoves can be used to boil water camping. Many fuel manufacturers tout that their fuel can burn as hot as 1300 degrees Farenheit. This makes a very viable choice to boil camping water.

One drawback to the solid fuel camp stove for boiling camping water is the lack of temperature control for the flame. The fuel will burn at the same temp for the most part.

To boil camp water on a solid fuel stove, set up the stove on a level and sturdy surface. Then light the fuel inside the stove. Place your water into a heatable container and place over the flame. The water should come to a boiling temperature within five minutes. Let the water boil for up to 5 minutes.

6. Alcohol Camp Stove

alcohol camp stove

Alcohol camp stoves have been around for several years and are a good choice for boiling water while camping. While the size of the stove is small they are able to get the job done in five to six minutes. They tend to be lightweight which can be an advantage if you are backpacking into your campsite.

One minor drawback to using an alcohol stove to boil camping water is the wind. In high wind conditions, it can be difficult to light and maintain the flame on an alcohol camp stove.

The majority of these types of stoves use isopropyl alcohol as fuel. It is lightweight and can burn for up to 20 minutes.

In order to boil water camping with an alcohol camp stove first set up the stove on a stable level surface. Next, light the stove and bring the temperature up to a high level. Pure your water into an appropriate vessel. Place this vessel on the stove for 5 to 6 minutes until the water starts to boil. Make sure to boil the camping water for up to five minutes.

7. Sterno Camp Stove

sterno camp stove

To boil water camping you may want to consider a sterno camp stove as your heat source. This compact and lightweight stove uses a gel-based fuel as its heat source.

While sterno stoves can boil water, the drawback is it takes them longer than other methods we have described. Possibly as long as ten minutes.

The process to boil camping water with a sterno camp stove is much like we have discussed in the other stoves. Set up the stove in a level and stable space. Light the stove and place your water in a pot or metal cup over the flame. Give the water time to boil, once it begins boiling, let it boil up to 5 minutes to make it safe.

8. Jetboil Stove

jetboil stove for boiling water camping

The Jetboil stove is a very reliable and quick way to boil water camping. The Jetboil system costs a bit more than the other stoves mentioned in this article. However, you get what you pay for. The Jetboil is said to boil water in about one and a half minutes.

It has a compact design and is easily transported which is great for backpacking. It is also easy to use in all types of weather. The system can also include a cooking cup. It utilizes canned liquefied petroleum gas.

To boil camping water in the Jetboil, add your water to the cooking cup or another vessel. Light the stove and place the water on the stove until it boils.

9. Charcoal Grill

boil camping water on charcoal grill

Charcoal grills are another option you can use to boil water camping. While it may take up to thirty minutes for the charcoal to heat up it offers a consistent and even temperature to boil camping water.

A portable charcoal grill is not easily transported while hiking so this method works best if you are car camping or if your campground offers onsite charcoal grills. Charcoal can be cumbersome to travel with so keep that in mind.

To boil camping water with a charcoal grill, start by lighting your charcoal and getting it to temperature. Next place your water in a pot, kettle or another vessel. Place your water on the grates of the grill and wait for it to boil.

10. Open Fire

boil camping water on open fire

An obvious choice to boil water camping is to use an open fire at the campsite. If you are in a campground that allows open fire you can boil camping water on your campfire.

If you are comfortable relying on your ability to build a campfire, this is a great choice as you don’t have to carry anything but your firestarter with you. Plus campfires can burn very hot which will bring a pot or kettle to boil quickly. One tip is to put level stones in the fire before you start it as a base to set your pot or kettle on to boil water in.

There are many accessories you can get to help boil water on a campfire, like a campfire grate or a campfire tripod.

11. Electricity

electric camping kettle

Ok, so using electricity to boil water camping may sound odd, but many campgrounds offer electricity at their sites. There are also many kettles manufactured to use the 12 volt system from your car.

These electric kettles make a quick and easy process for boiling water camping. They are fast and consistent.

To boil your water camping in one of these kettles, just fill the kettle with water. Then plug it into your power source whether it is an outlet provided on the campsite or in your vehicle. Then wait for the water to boil.


12. Solar Kettle

solar water kettle

Our final method to boil water camping is the solar kettle. There is much debate on these types of units and some question if they can boil water. Other people state they will, so be sure and check the specifications yourself before investing in one.

Most users of solar kettles state it takes from 30 to 40 minutes for the sun to heat the water properly. They note that the quality of sunlight has much to do with how fast these units work. On a cloudless sunny day, they heat the water much quicker. On cloudy days users report it takes a long time for the solar kettle to heat the water.

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications on these units before purchasing one to boil water camping. You want to ensure they are powerful enough. In the end, you may decide not to rely solely on a solar kettle for your water boiling needs.

Conclusion for Boil Water Camping

No matter which method you choose to boil camping water you must keep in mind the principal reason to do so. You want to purify the water before consuming it. Whether you plan to drink it or use it in your cooking, like in a soup. Failing to boil the water properly could lead to sickness for you and your companions. Be sure to boil water camping for 1 to 5 minutes for drinking it. Be mindful to let the water cool before you drink it. You can keep the leftover water in a clean container for future use.

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