11 Easy Ways to Boil Water While Camping

A clean source of water is an absolute necessity when camping.

Some weekend campers simply bring several gallons of clean water with them in the car, but more hardcore campers need to be resourceful and utilize a source of water, like a running stream, for hydration and cooking.

But in order to ensure there are no bad bacteria in that water and it’s safe for drinking, you need to boil it.

Luckily, there are many different options for boiling water, from the traditional kettle over a campfire to using your car’s power supply.

Here are 11 ways to boil water while camping.

1. Kettle over a campfire

Kettle Over A Campfire

Estimated Time : 4 to 5 minutes for a 1-liter kettle

The most typical way campers boil water while in the great outdoors is by using a kettle over a campfire. Most camping kettles, such as those from Camping Moon and Red Camp are about 1 liter in size, which means it’s going to take about 5 minutes when filled to the top and placed over high heat. Larger kettles will take a little more time to boil.

Be careful not to go too large because when filled with water, it could be too heavy to easily pour out the water.

The kettle is preferred because it’s easy to pour boiled water for coffee and cooking things like oatmeal and rice. Make sure you’re wearing a protective glove to avoid burning your hand on the handle when pouring.

Make sure you have a grill plate to put over the campfire ring so your kettle has a stable table to heat up on. Go with a cast iron grill plate for durability.

2. Electric kettle

Electric Kettle to Boil Water

Estimated Time : 2 to 3 minutes

If you have access to an electrical hookup at your campsite, which tends to be more common at public, state-owned campsites, an electric kettle is a quick solution for boiling water. Most electric and portable camping kettles are affordable and only take 2 to 3 minutes to boil water.

Even better, more modern electric kettles include unique settings that allow you to boil water and keep other liquids, like coffee, warm, which is helpful on colder camping days.

3. Jetboil stove system

Jetboil Stove System

Estimated Time : 1.5 minutes

If you need a solution that boils water extremely quickly, I highly recommend checking out a cooking system by Jetboil. The company’s range of camping stoves promises to boil your water in about 100 seconds. The more expensive stoves include additional features that can be very helpful for cooking, like precision temperature control.

Jetboil systems aren’t the cheapest, but they’re an excellent investment if you’re a regular camper. They hook up to a fuel source and use a very concentrated heat area to boil your water quickly.

If your top priority is boiling water, just buy the Jetboil system.

4. Internal flame kettle

Ghillie Kettle

Estimated Time : 2 minutes

Several kettles feature a spot inside where you can light a flame. One such example is the Ghillie Kettle.

Because the flame is inside the kettle, water heats up and boils faster than a traditional kettle.

This type of kettle has big advantages in size and weight. Because it doesn’t require a fuel canister, like a Jetboil system, it’s a good option for backpacking camping.

5. A trusty pot

Boiling Water in A Pot Over Fire

Estimated Time : 5 to 10 minutes

The most basic method for boiling water is simply filling a pot, letting it heat up, and ultimately boiling it over a campfire.

It’s slower than some of the tech-savvier options out there, like a Jet Boil or even a kettle with an internal flame, and pots are relatively bulky, making it potentially annoying for anything outside of car camping.

But a pot for camping is cheap and relatively easy to boil water in.

If possible, Try to find a pot with a pointed opening to make pouring water into a specific container easier, like a French press coffee maker.

6. Electric stove

Electric Pot Boiling Water

Estimated Time : 3 to 5 minutes

Much like the electric kettle option, several electric stoves on the market are popular among car and RV campers and have easy access to electricity while camping.

Most electric stoves, which cost between $50 and $100, can hold about 1 to 1.5 liters of water. That means you can boil water in under 5 minutes.

If you’re a hardcore backpacking camper, an electric camping stove likely won’t be an option, but it could be convenient if you’re a more relaxed camper with electricity access.

7. Power from your car

A Car's Cigarette Lighter

Estimated Time : Depends

Did you know any of the electric options on this list can be powered via your car’s auxiliary power outlet?

Because car camping is still popular, boiling some water using an electric kettle that plugs into that outlet (sometimes referred to as the cigarette lighter receptacle) is a very feasible option.

Of course, the one possible downside to this option is the potential of draining your car’s battery. You should be ok for a handful of boils, but be careful. After a few, you may want to drive your car around a bit to regenerate the battery’s power, which can be a potential pain point while camping.

8. Charcoal grill

Boiling Water Over A Charcoal Grill

Estimated Time : 30+ minutes to get charcoal hot

Many National Parks, such as Yellowstone and Bryce Canyon, and public campgrounds feature built-in grills on their campsites, perfect for charcoal. Depending on the size of these grills, you can boil water in a kettle or a pot.

Charcoal is excellent for cooking because it produces even heat, but it takes a long time to heat up. This doesn’t bother campers too much because they have all the time in the world when relaxing outdoors.

9. Flameless ration heater

Flameless Ration Heater

Estimated Time : 5 to 7 minutes

This isn’t the most effective method of boiling water, but it can do the job in a pinch.

These heater packs can actually get quite hot, with some of the cooking-specific ones able to hit 203ºF, which is just slightly under the boiling point. Because of this, it may not be hot enough to purify the water, but it can certainly heat it up.

Proceed with caution if you’re using water from a natural source.

10. Tin can

Boiling Water in A Tin Can

Estimated Time : 5 to 7 minutes

Assuming you have a tin can, this is an option solely for emergencies.

It’s not a good option because there’s no protective handle to pick up the can after the water is done boiling. Additionally, there are probably bacteria and other germs in the can that won’t make it the most appealing.

Make sure to put the tin can in the fire first, before adding water, to burn off any bacteria.

Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.