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Does anyone have tips for boiling water over fire?


My husband and I have camped quite a few times but are still learning. We most often use drive-up tent camping or short hike in campsites so weight is not too much of an issue. We prefer to cook over a campfire instead of using a jetboil or other camp stove. Does anyone have tips or ideas for the most effective pot/kettle or device for boiling water efficiently over a campfire? We have just been using a small camping pot but they are difficult to pour from, especially into an aeropress. Thanks! 

9 Replies

Cowboys made this work over a campfire.

Perhaps consider this an option, less the percolator components for just boiling water



This coffee percolator has a bail style hanger that can be rigged over a campfire or set on a grill. Use without the percolator components for just boiling water. Perhaps this is an option to consider for your campground cooking fire. 

Of course be prepared to clean the “carbon footprint” of the campfire off the metal percolator after each use.


One way to make the removal of "carbon footprint" off of aluminum pots is to coat the outside before use with some type of dish soap, then it is the soap that gets blackened and comes off easily.

Though not useful  to the OP but one can actually boil water in a paper bag or cup as water boils before paper burns. I have won a few bets with this trick before.

Regarding the soap on the pot tip.  It works very well.  Just be sure to coat the whole pot outside completely.  Any uncoated area will get sooted up.  My older pots have some really interesting soot patterns on them where I missed spots over the years!  Gives them character.


Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

The toaks work on fires.  More effective if you ensure to put the top on...:)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Climb high.  The higher the altitude, the lower the temperature at which water boils, hence faster....I know you stated you do not wish to use a camp stove, but if you need boiling water quickly, I would crank up a canister stove (Jet Boil being the fastest), kick back, and enjoy the ambience of the campfire with my hot water beverage.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

hmmmm....I bet if the cowboys had canister stoves, they'd used them instead of trying to cook on a campfire.  IMO trying to cook over a fire, once or twice for retro purposes..reliving those pioneer ways is a great experience, but it is indeed a mega hassle.

And...furthermore (lol) these days you'd best bring a stove anyway, what with all the fire warnings, closures, restrictions, high winds, lack of firewood, etc., etc..

In conclusion, I agree with what @hikermor  said, use the stove to cook, use the fire for ambience.  Jet boil IS the fastest, but one of the heaviest also.  And keep in mind, the higher in altitude you go, the less firewood that is available, and above 10,000, campfires are banned in most places.


REI Member Since 1979

Cooking over the fire is easy, I do it a lot.  But using a campfire to boil water is quite difficult.  Why?  You need high heat that's consistent enough & long enough to do it, which is the hard part.  If you're needing to boil water that much, I'd recommend you look into small, one-burner camp stoves that can run off of a small 1lb propane bottle.  That way your wait time for morning coffee is not dependent on getting the fire ready in the morning!


A simple ceramic coated percolator is the best. Make your fire, put the percolator over it, beside it, or in the coals.

Since you are car camping, there is no reason not to use one. As was stated, before putting it over of in the fire, coat the outside with dish soap for easy clean up. My preference is one that does not have any plastic or glass knobs, something like this one.