Amazingly Easy: How to Boil Water When Camping

How to Boil Water Effectively For Camping

Staying hydrated is essential while camping and one of the best ways to make sure you’re drinking clean water is to boil it. Boiling is a simple and effective way to ensure your water is safe to drink while camping. In this blog, we’ll explore how to boil water when camping and what precautions you should take.

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When to Boil Water For Camping

Generally, you should boil your water when you’re camping unless the water source is already known to be safe. This is the case if you’re gathering your water from a public water spigot or purchasing it from a reliable source. Pristine natural water sources, such as mountain streams and springs, are likely to be safe too, although you should check with your local health department if you’re uncertain. If you’re collecting from natural sources, you still should boil your water just in case.

You also should boil your water if it has been exposed to unsafe chemicals or contaminants. For instance, if your campground is blocking or flooding due to a recent rain, the runoff could contain contaminants you don’t want to ingest. If you’re camping downstream from a farm and the farm has used pesticides or herbicides, you should boil your water as a precaution.

How to Boil Water For Camping

Boil your water to 145°F for at least 3 minutes and let it cool before drinking. You can also use a thermometer to verify the water has reached the recommended temperature.

When boiling water for camping, you’ll need either a non-toxic container to transfer the boiled water or a camp stove with a pot to boil it in. You also should bring a lid to cover the pot.

boiling water while camping

Setup a Campfire to Boil Water

If your campground has a fire pit, that’s an ideal option for boiling your water. It’s important to follow safe camping practices, such as using only firewood from the immediate area and never leaving the fire unattended. Make sure you completely douse and stir your fire before leaving it.

Before you start, gather a few pieces of tinder, kindling, and larger sticks for the fire. Build a small fire pile with the tinder as the base and the kindling above it. Place your larger pieces of wood close by for when your tinder and kindling catch. Leave a little space for air to flow around.

setting up campfire for boiling water

Once your fire is lit, you can place the pot of water next to or over the fire. Make sure you continually stir the water while it’s boiling and check the temperature every few minutes.

Use a Camp Stove to Boil Water

You can also use a camp stove or a pot with a lid to boil your water. Set your stove up in a safe, well-ventilated area. Remember to check your stove’s guidelines to make sure you’re using the right kind of fuel for it.

Your approach will differ slightly depending on the type of stove you’re using. Some use an on-off valve, while others use a dial or knob to control the flame. Place the pot over the stove’s flame once it’s lit and make sure you have a lid on it.

boiling water on camp stove

Keep stirring your water for several minutes until it reaches the desired temperature. This video from Camp Kulin teaches you how to boil water safely using a camp stove.

Safety First

Whether you’re boiling water at camp or in your backyard, it’s important to take safety precautions. When boiling water on a campfire, wear protective gear like hand protection and long pants and sleeves to avoid getting burned. When you’re handling a hot pot on a stove, use heat-resistant or oven mitts.

It’s usually best to boil your water outside your tent — it’s unsafe to handle boiling-hot water inside a confined area. Make sure you’re far away from trees and brush when boiling water, and never leave a distressed or unattended campfire.


Boiling water is one of the most foolproof ways to ensure your drinking water is safe when you’re camping. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for boiling water, but depending on your camping situation, you may choose to set up a campfire or use a camp stove for boiling. Follow these steps, and remember to practice safety precautions when setting up and tending your fire or camp stove.