Outdoor Education: How to Boil Water Without a Pot

Dick Moss, Editor

Here's a scenario you can pose to your students. Their canoe has tipped and they've lost their cooking pot. But they want to boil water for soup and tea. How do they do it?

One method is to use rock boiling.

Rock Boiling
First, make a container out of a hollowed out log, a leather pack, or even a depression in the rocks. Fill it with water. Place some rocks in your fire until they are red and glowing. Then, using sticks, place the rocks in your water container.

Rock Size
The size of rock will determine its boiling capacity. For example, a golf-ball-sized rock will boil a cup of tea, while two fist-sized rocks should boil a gallon of water.

If your students have cooking pots but hate washing them, this method will allow them to boil water without blackening the bottom of the pot.

When selecting boiling rocks, choose dry rocks. Rocks that have been sitting in water can explode when heated.

1. Tom Brown, “Secrets to survival.” Backpacker, October 1992.
2. Rich Johnson, The Ultimate Survival Manual (Outdoor Life): 333 Skills that Will Get You Out Alive, Weldon Owens, 2012.

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