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Thread: Boil times and fuel usage

  1. #1
    Large bipedal Primate Billofthenorth's Avatar
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    Default Boil times and fuel usage

    Hi All,

    I'm planning a backpack trip this summer (Porcupine Mtns - 4th time) and from experience I know I'll use a lot of water.
    There is plenty of stream water available there and I intend to boil for purification instead of or in addition to tablets.
    I'll probably go through close to a gallon a day so I'll need to replenish at least once a day, probably at lunch or dinner stops.
    I suspect it is more efficient fuel-wise to boil large quantities, 2 liters versus a half a liter or so at a time.

    Anyone else have data on this?



    Results from my testing so far.
    Nominal fuel consumption 4 oz per hour - I don't have a way to measure that so fuel consumption is estimated, the rest is time and temperature.

    Newly refurbished M1950 5500 BTUs - boil times - pre-heat time not included

    2 liter 54 tap water - mountain cook set- covered - altitude 804 ft -

    13 Mins 175
    16 mins low boil 200
    17 mins rolling boil 208
    1.133 oz est fuel used


    1 liter same general conditions

    10 mins 175
    12 mins low boil 200
    13 mins rolling boil 208
    .866 oz est fuel used


    1/2 liter same general conditions

    5 mins 175
    6 mins rolling boil 208
    .4 oz est fuel used



    If not for the water issue I would probably just bring alcohol burners for cooking to save weight but I don't think they'll do the job (quickly) for large amounts of water.


  2. #2
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Hummmm, Is it really necessary to boil so long?

    Quote>
    Boiling water is the most effective method of purifying it. To do so, you will need a heat source, such as a cooker or camping stove, and a vessel to hold the water. According to the Washington State Department of Health and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, you should bring the water to boil and keep it rolling for one minute to purify it. At altitudes above one mile, 2,000 meters, you should increase the rolling time to three minutes.< quote

    http://traveltips.usatoday.com/long-...ion-62933.html

    I usually strain it, then just bring to a boil.....mostly for stream and rivers....and call it good?
    Of course if your are cooking something....may have to simmer a while depending if coffee soup, or rehydrating freeze dried....after boiling.
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    Senior Member alaskabushman's Avatar
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    I think you're right about the alcohol burners, I doubt they would be a quick solution.

    I also don't have any data that is better than what you already have. Looks to me like the 2 liter boil is the most efficient.

    Is there any reason you couldn't just boil water over an open fire? I know that some places don't allow open flame, especially during certain time of the year, but if this is an option then is would take no fuel at all! This may not be ideal during the day while on the move, but in the evening when camp is set up maybe boil extra over a fire to help relieve the use of the stove.

    Then again the tablets don't weigh much, maybe carry some spares just in case you run out of fuel. You can eat cold food, but I'd be wary of drinking unpurified water.
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    Large bipedal Primate Billofthenorth's Avatar
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    I'll attempt to use wood to help with the boiling, if its permitted. Another thing to look into.
    It's been 10 years since I was last there and I don't remember all the rules.
    I still have several months to get my kit together and the trip organized.

    I've seen several sources that say reaching 185 degrees for 3 minutes is enough to kill pathogens. Since I home can I know about 165 is needed for pasteurization if maintained for a length of time. Boiling is just a handy, no thermometer needed way of making sure. Once boiling point is reached, everything should be dead. That is my goal, total extermination!!!!
    Tablets may not be effective against everything in the water there anymore, although they are what I used in the past.

    If the 4 oz per hour burn rate is accurate, I can probably get by on 10 or 12 ounces of fuel for both water purification and cooking over a 4 day trip.

    I'm thinking of cooking with alcohol, since that will be my back up stove anyhow and weighs almost nothing. The white gas stove would be for water only / mostly so I can reduce the amount and weight of fuel. The M50 is my lightest CF burning stove (and the funnest to use) so that would be the one to take.

    Thanks for the input.
    Last edited by Billofthenorth; 02-27-2017 at 01:47 PM.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    You need to get a filter! A Sawyer Mini will do the job at low cost. Most back packers have been using filters for 30-40 years.

    If you are still worried about purity then add tablets or carry bleach and add a few drops of chlorine.

    It will be cleaner at that point than what comes out of the tap at home.

    Boiling is going to require an hour a day, carrying a great big old pot and even though wood is available for fuel the weather might interfere with your water prep if it rains for a day or two running.

    You do not have to boil as long as the numbers you listed, just bringing the water up to simmer kills anything alive in most water, but even boiling does not remove heavy metals.
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  6. #6
    Not a Mod finallyME's Avatar
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    First, you need to get a filter. Sawyer mini. Less than 3 oz and less than $20, no excuse to not have one. Don't carry more than 2 liters at a time, and probably only carry 1 liter at any given time. You will enjoy the water better than tablets. Plus, you can get the water immediately. Water is also the heaviest item in your pack. The less you carry, the easier it will be to walk.... just saying. I do this in the high mountains when I know I will cross a stream every couple hours. Every time you cross a stream, and you have more than a liter, you are carrying water that you don't have to.

    Boiling drinking water sucks when you backpack. Sure, in the morning, when you want coffee or tea or something hot to drink, it is nice. But, the rest of the day, you want lots of water, and cold water. Now you have to spend more time boiling, instead of walking. And, you have to wait for it to cool. And, you have to carry the fuel. On an overnight, not a problem. But, for multiple days, filter.

    I plan to boil 1 liter, twice a day. One for breakfast and one for dinner. I use about 2 cups for the meal, and the rest is hot drink.

    Hey, you don't have to follow this advice. If you like to have a heavy pack....

    Also, the water you get is probably colder than your tap water. Also, you need to do the tests in a windy/cold environment, not inside. So, your tests might not be accurate.
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    Not a Mod finallyME's Avatar
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    Dang KYRS, posted at the same time.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Pure Genius, rep sent.

    I sent a Sawyer Mini to Africa with a friend that is a missionary. It worked fine for him and he left it there with another missionary when he left, then bought another when he got home.

    He is not an outdoorsman, but he considers his Sawyer Mini as critical as having his passport now. He especially liked the fact that it screwed directly to a water bottle. Even bottled water is suspect when bought from a bush store in Tanzania.
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    Not a Mod finallyME's Avatar
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    We had suspect bottled water when we were in Kuwait and Iraq. We had a deal with Kuwait, one of the provisions was that we buy water from their companies. Some weren't all that great. I wish I had one when I was in Iraq.
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  10. #10
    Large bipedal Primate Billofthenorth's Avatar
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    I forgot all about filters, it's been so long since I've used one.
    My old first need filter, circa 1985 is probably not going to be effective anymore, lol.
    Thanks for all the responses.
    Last edited by Billofthenorth; 02-27-2017 at 08:24 PM.

  11. #11
    Junior Member Tokwan's Avatar
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    Where I a,m from, I don't particularly think much about fuel usage. I am more concerned about boiling water.
    Here, one main concern is Leptospirosis...where animals poo or pee in or near the water. It only takes a rat. Some..and when I say some, it really means some and not a few or a little or just one or cases, but really some, have been fatal.

    My practice has alwaya been:-
    For water that needs to be filtered (puddle, stagnant, or does not look clear), I would let it boil at rolling boil for 10 minutes.
    For water that need not be filtered (stream, flowing river, monkey's cup) I would let it boil at a rolling boil of 3 minutes.
    For water directly from a spring (you can see the water coming out of the ground), bamboo, banana tree trunks, lyana roots, rattan roots , coconut...I would just drink them straight.
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