Camp Hot Water Heater With an Easy to Use Dispensing Feature





Introduction: Camp Hot Water Heater With an Easy to Use Dispensing Feature

Make a large-volume, propane, camp water heater that dispenses hot water like a kitchen faucet.

When camping with a large group, like our Boy Scout troop, a propane turkey fryer is an easy way to quickly heat a large quantity of water.  Between washing cooking gear / mess kits and making hot beverages we empty this hot water tank a few times during every campout.

It 's no great surprise that a turkey fryer can heat water (after all, heating liquids is what they are made for.)   Getting the hot water out is another issue.  

Unless some army is laying siege to your castle, lifting and pouring this caldron of scalding water is out of the question.   That leaves "ladel-ing" as about the only way to scoop out the water.

This Instructable describes an easier method for safely dispensing this essential hot chocolate ingredient.

Step 1: Turkey Fryer

Not all turkey fryers are created equal.  Sure, all consist of a pot, lid, burner and stand, but  what's needed here is one with a spigot at the bottom of the pot.  The fryer shown is a Safe-T-Fryer bought at Bass Pro.  (unfortunately, I think it is discontinued)  They have another model with a spigot  (North American Outdoors 35-Quart Aluminum Saf-T-Fryer)  available at Lowes.

This spigot at the bottom of this pot may be fine for emptying cooled frying oil however, right out of the box, it is not a practical hot water dispenser. 

The multiple turns required to stop the flow on the factory spigot leads to spillage.  It turns out young scouts don't anticipate the time it takes to rotate the handle several times.  Hot water overflowing a mug is never a good thing. 

The factory spigot is also too close to the heat source.  It gets much too hot to operate with a bare hand.  (Its known for a fact that we are talking about handle temperatures well above the melting point of the vinyl covering on snow golves.)

Provided you use suitable protection to open the gate; filling a cup from the factory spigot proves to be as difficult as a crooked carnival game: "Step right up... and try to fill your plastic mug... without contacting the hot pot stand and melting it"....nearly impossible while shivering in the morning cold.

Step 2: The Dispenser

 The answer to all of the shortcomings of the factory spigot is solved with brass plumbing hardware.

Fortunatly, the turkey fryer spigot comes with a cap that screws onto the end of the spout to prevent dripping.  As luck would have it, the threads just happen to be sized for standard 3/8" plumbing fittings.

Two 90 degree 3/8" brass fittings, a 1/4 turn ball valve, and some teflon pipe thread tape are all it takes to make a safe convenient hot water dispenser.

With these fittings, the handle, and pour point are far enough away from the burner to reduce the chance for melted cups and hands. The quarter turn valve shuts off quickly;  is easy to operate as a self-serve dispenser; and best of all, it is not hot to the touch. 

Note: obviously the factory spigot is left  "open" with this set-up.

It is not that a reach to think a turkey fryer would make a good camp water heater... but, sometimes its the little Instructables that turn a good idea into a practical camp essential.

Step 3: Camp Wash Stand

 Besides making hot chocolate, the large volume of hot water is used for washing cooking gear.

The photo shows our troop's lashed together camp wash stand.  Scouts will recognize the standard three step system: wash, rinse, sanitize.  

The modified water heater valve is great for filling wash tubs... or giving a quick rinse to an especially "gunked" cook utensil so it doesn't overly pollute the wash water...all with the familiarity and efficiency of a kitchen sink faucet.    



    • Science of Cooking

      Science of Cooking
    • Pocket-Sized Contest

      Pocket-Sized Contest
    • Microcontroller Contest

      Microcontroller Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    For sure. Many adapted designs. Here's a sturdy one made up of 5' staves that's happily becoming popular in the BSA:


    but should I understand that one of the hiker in your team is only devoted to carry this stuff during the trip ?
    Sure as nature lovers, you seem to be, you don't drive to your campsite ?…

    If you are implying that we drive to camp hauling our gear in the boot of a car... I can assure you, GOOD SIR, that is not the case at all....we use manly trucks to haul our a massive trailer... : )

    Actually we do a lot of different type of camping.  when we go as a large group, we take the trailer.  Other times we backpack in and carry all our gear on our backs.  That means no hot water heater.


    you can always make a smaller one

    That is a great idea.. Out here at our camp site we are lucky enough to have electricity.

    I built a small flushing bathroom with only Cold water available at the sink.

    For hot water we installed a big electric coffee pot sitting on a shelf right over the lavatory.... When someone uses it they are instructed to add water back to it.

    It's kept filled at all times day and night.

    When I take my home made camper out to the state park. I carry all electrical equipment due to the fact we must pay for electricity at the camp site and it's cheaper than Propane. We even have a small fridge.. In the south, yes I need Air Conditioning since I have gotten older.. My camper has an electric heater installed too.. I am into soft camping now days, no more sleeping on the ground.

    As one outdoors person to another.. Bless you..

    However,, That is NOT to degrade your excellent idea..

    I share my info in the event someone can use it to go along with your idea..

    " home made camper..."

    I should like very much to see a photo and possibly, an Instructable...

    Thank you so much for calling me GOOD SiR !…
    It warms my heart as it makes me feel much more important than what I really am.

    I see you have a good sense of humor as you seem to have understand that my comment was by no mean being critical of your heater project, which I admire.

    Best wishes to all and your camping and outdoors projects for the season to come.


    Why does one need to heat HOT WATER?

    Looks like an EXCELLENT COLD WATER HEATER. :-)

    Great idea!

    Ala George Carlin...He lives!

    makes me want to take up scouting. LOL and I'm 57.