sub 2268 hiking

Boiling Water

with 2 comments

To briefly address the issue of boiling water:

A popular topic within the world of outdoors, not just hiking, is whether or not to boil water, and if so for how long.

Most highly active, long distance, and sul/xul hikes I know do NOT bring our water to a full boil.

The 160 – 180(f) mark is about all that is realistically needed for trail food and/or coffee/tea.

I honestly do not remember the last time I brought water to a boil while out on the trail.

I read somewhere awhile back that the last 25-30 degrees that it takes for water to go from “hot enough” to “boil” results in an additional 20% of fuel being necessary. And that, for hikers such as myself, results in a significant amount of weight over the course of the hiking season, all for something that is just not necessary, except for that very rare situation where you need to boil for water sanitation/purification purposes.

Popular ways of classification of different water temperatures:

There are a few different ways of folks giving terms to different temperatures, here are two of my favorite methods:

Shrimp Eyes
about 70-80 °C (155–175 °F) – separate bubbles, rising to top

Crab Eyes
about 80 °C (175 °F) – streams of bubbles

Fish Eyes
about 80-90 °C (175–195 °F) – larger bubbles

Rope of Pearls
about 90-95 °C (195–205 °F) – steady streams of large bubbles

Raging Torrent
rolling boil, swirling and roiling


Tepid Water
85 to 105°F. The water is comparable to the temperature of the human body.

Warm Water
115 to 120°F. The water is touchable but not hot.

Hot Water
130 to 135°F. The water is too hot to touch without injury.

160 to 180°F. The water is beginning to move, to shiver.

185 to 200°F. There is movement, and little bubbles appear in the water.

Slow boil
205°F. There is more movement and noticeably larger bubbles.

Real boil

212°F. The water is rolling, vigorously bubbling, and steaming.

Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

November 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Agreed.. Nowadays a little trick I use when I need to filter my water first is to run it through a Sawyer mini first then bring the water to near boil. But never full rolling boil. A great way to save lots of fuel over the course of a thru hike.


    September 18, 2015 at 6:22 am

    • I do the exact same thing… run it through my Sawyer mini, then heat it up to around the Shrimp Eyes to Crab Eyes point (awesome terms btw), or right to the point where it looks like it’s getting ready to boil. I’ve been amazed at how much of a fuel savings I’ve realized from making this change, and no problems with undercooked meals.

      Robb Keele

      October 5, 2015 at 11:43 am

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