Having instant access to hot water is something that most of us take for granted as we use it throughout our day.
There are lots of situations however when you can lose access to hot water instantly and knowing how to heat water yourself when you don’t have any electricity is really useful.
Whether you’re in your home experiencing a power outage, living off grid, or you’re in an emergency situation, you’ll want to make sure you’re equipped with the tools and the knowledge to get boiling water to drink, cook and clean with.
Learning to Heat Water Without Electricity
We’ve researched the best ways to heat water without electricity so that you can quickly and easily consult our list and figure out the best method for you.
5 ways to heat water without electricity
1. Portable Gas Stove
Whether you’re looking to purify water or simply heat it in order to warm up emergency food rations, a portable gas stove is ideal.
Portable gas stoves can generate a significant amount of power so that you can easily use them to cook a meal and warm up food. Many portable gas stoves have a wind guard which helps them to function properly in extreme weather conditions.
You can bring water to boiling point within 5 minutes so this is an excellent way of ensuring you have safe drinking water quickly.
Using your Portable Gas Stove
- Always make sure your gas stove is on a flat surface and protected from the wind
- Position your pan upright on the gas stove, ensuring it’s supported and fixed in position
- Slot the gas canister into place – always double check this is done correctly before switching on.
- Turn the portable gas stove on by turning the control knob to the ‘Ignition’ position. The stove should make a clicking noise and light. You may need to do this a few times if it doesn’t ignite immediately.
- Adjust the height and strength of the flame by using the control knob. The portable gas stove is now ready to use to heat your water.
Always double check that you turn off the control knob and ensure that the flame has gone out after using your portable gas stove. Remove the gas source when you’re not using the stove.
Things You’ll Need
- Portable Gas Stove
- Gas canisters
- Wind Guard if possible
If you’re at home and have a power outage, check if your gas stove uses standing pilots. If so, you’ll be able to light your stove top burners by using a match. Always make sure you extinguish and dispose of matches carefully after use.
2. Solar Cooker
There are some incredible solar cookers on the market at the moment. Solar cookers are an excellent way to heat water without electricity and are one of the most environmentally friendly options available.
Solar cookers can be quick and easy to set up and often weigh less than portable gas stoves. A solar cooker focusses sunlight into a small area which becomes very hot and can be used to cook, boil, bake or steam food on.
You can make your own solar oven but this can be quite time consuming and you’ll need equipment such as cardboard boxes which you may not have in an emergency situation.
Buying a solar cooker to have in your bug out bag, in the back of your car or just in your home is an excellent way to make sure you’ll always be able to heat water without electricity. Some solar cookers on the market come as sets with tools such as thermometers and water purification systems included.
Using your Solar Cooker
- Find a flat surface that is exposed to direct sunlight with no obstructions
- Put the solar cooker in direct sunlight and allow it to preheat.
- Use the thermometer to check the temperature
- Place your food in the oven and close the lid
Always make sure that you allow your solar oven to cool down before you pack it away. Clean it properly once it is cooled to keep it well maintained.
Things You’ll Need
- Solar Cooker
Try and purchase a solar cooker that only requires enough sunlight to cast a shadow on the unit. This will ensure you can use it efficiently even without bright daylight.
3. Fire Pit
Fire pits have become a fashionable accessory in backyards across the country. You don’t need a fancy version to heat water without electricity though – in fact, fire pits dug in the ground have been used for centuries to heat water.
For modern day preppers and survivalists there are a number of fire pit options you can buy on the market. You’ll need to make sure you have the right fuel type for these pits such as wood or coal.
You may also need to carry firestarters with you in case the fire pit struggles to light – remember to always keep these dry and store them in a ziploc plastic bag within your backpack.
If you want to try to make a firepit yourself, it’s quick and easy to do anywhere and anytime. Carrying a foldable shovel in your bug out bag will be really useful in these situations.
Making your Fire Pit
- Find a clear space away from any surrounding vegetation, ideally with flat ground.
- Use a shovel or your hands to dig a large hole in the ground. Make sure that the center of the hole is the lowest point – this is where the fire will sit.
- Create a circle of stones around the hole to contain the fire and give it protection
- Collect the material that you have available to burn – eg: wood for kindling and tinder such as dry leaves.
- Stack the kindling wood over the tinder. Put the wood in the shape of a teepee leaving a small gap for air flow.
- Use a match to light the tinder
- Add kindling wood as and when needed to keep the fire going
Things You’ll Need:
- Stones or rocks
- Tinder such as dry leaves
- Kindling such as sticks or wood
Always check the wind direction before you make your fire so you can work out how to use it to your advantage and heat water quickly without electricity.
4. Swedish Fire Steel
This is a small yet vital piece of equipment to help you to heat water without electricity. The flint fire starter is excellent value for money and allows you to instantly light a fire in any weather conditions.
It works well at different altitudes and is so compact that it can easily be added to your bug out bag or attached to your get home bag.
One of the big advantages of using a flint fire starter is that it can be used effectively even in wet conditions.
Using your Swedish Fire Steel
- Designate the area where you want to start your fire. This can be within a fire pit and should be protected from elements such as wind and rain.
- Hold the tool over the fire area
- Use the striker blade to scrape the light coat of paint off the rod.
- Run the blade down the rod slowly – you should see a shower of sparks. Always make sure these are aimed towards the fire area.
- Once the fire has lit, keep adding kindling to keep it going and heat your water without electricity.
- Extinguish the fire fully when it is no longer needed.
Things You’ll Need
- A firepit or pile of wood
- A Swedish Fire Steel
Try using different speeds and varying pressure to get the best result in terms of spark production.
5. Candles or Tealights
If you’re at home and experience a power outage you can try heating water by using candles or tealights which you may have lying around.
Tealights usually work better due to their height as they don’t require you to elevate the vessel holding the water as much.
Tea lights are cheap and versatile – you can put them in any arrangement on a flat surface and use a large number of them to offer an even spread of heat.
Using Tealights to heat water
- Find a flat surface to place your tea lights on. If you are at home and have access to kitchen accessories, it can be useful to place the tea lights evenly on a baking tray or in a large rectangular dish
- Using a match or a lighter, light all the tea lights.
- Place a saucepan with water carefully balanced across the top of the baking tray or dish so that the bottom of it remains slightly raised above the tea lights.
- Check that all of the tea lights are underneath the saucepan and move any that are not.
- Wait for the water in the saucepan to reach boiling point. Remove from the heat and carefully extinguish all the tealights.
Things You’ll Need:
- Tealights or a candle
- Baking tray or rectangular dish
- Large saucepan
- Matches or a lighter
If you don’t have tea lights and have to use a candle, a multi wick option can make heating water quicker.
The importance of boiling water
Having access to hot water can feel like a luxury but in fact it’s often an essential, especially in emergency situations.
Boiling water purifies it and removes harmful bacteria meaning that it is one of the safest ways of obtaining clean drinking water.
It can also be used to clean wounds that could otherwise become infected with bacteria in the water. Similarly, boiling water can be used to clean vital pieces of equipment such as knives that you may need to use for different jobs.
Boiling water also gives you the ability to cook food rations or simple carbohydrates such as rice that can be essential for fueling your body in an emergency situation where you may be awaiting rescue.
Having access to clean drinking water can stop you getting dehydrated, and being able to cook food for yourself and others can help you consume enough calories in an emergency situation – however long it takes to be rescued.
Preppers and survivalists should all be able to heat water without electricity to ensure that they can keep themselves and others safe when going off grid – either intentionally or unexpectedly.