Boiling Water In A Paper Cup

On a recent hike, Brian Green told me about a book called 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) which obviously sounded fun… He told me that he and his children had went through it together, and that it was exciting, so after I got back from the hike I told my children about it. Of course they thought it sounded fun too, so I headed to Amazon and placed an order for the book.

The book itself does look fun. It is essentially a work-book filled with 50 “dangerous” things to try out with your children (supervised of course…) Some of the “things” include sticking your arm out of the window of a moving car, throwing rocks, poisoning your friends and boiling water in a paper cup…among others…

Today we decided to have a go at our second “dangerous thing” from the book, boiling water in a cup (which happened to be lucky # 13!)

To do this, I grabbed my Jetboil and a square piece of hardware cloth to use as a grate over the stove. We decided to try our hands at some paper origami cups to use to actually boil the water in, and while they did turn out, lets just say that they didn’t look water tight. So, we all focused on one of the DIY cups…

Once we had one that looked like it just might work, we took everything outside (my wife didn’t like the idea of us trying to boil water in a paper “cup” inside the house…) We set it all up, but before we got started, I read some of the general information outlined in the book about this experiment. I explained to them about the boiling point of water and then what happens to the water after it reaches the boiling point.  As well, I told them what the book said (this was my first time doing such a thing as well…) that we should expect once starting this experiment…

After this, I let my daughter pour the water into the cup, and my son got the stove going…

So, as can be seen in the video, this was probably not the best example or demonstration of boiling water in a paper cup, but it was exciting (and “dangerous) and we enjoyed it. I am thinking that if I had turned the flame off earlier each time, the “cups” would have fared better. However, we will probably try it again in the future, and we will probably also give a paper bag a try next time too…

So, have you had any experiences boiling water in a paper container? What were the results?

Thanks for reading!


Disclaimer: I purchased the book 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) with my own money.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
This entry was posted in Cups/Mugs, DIY/MYOG, Stoves and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Boiling Water In A Paper Cup

  1. Ryan says:

    My brother and I went on a three day backpacking trip and we only brought paper bowls to do all of our cooking. We used one bowl for a pot to boil water and one for a lid. After we cooked we each had a bowl to eat out of and we burned the bowls after each meal – no dishes to clean! It was a fun experiment, but sense then we have stuck to more conventional pots. Thanks for the great blog!


    • Stick says:


      That is cool…I will have to try that too. I was actually planning on picking up some paper bowls today when I went to the store. I think that these will work better than either methods I had in my video. Plus, the bowl will be able to fit on the actual cook pot without needing the grate, which I attribute to helping burn up my cup…

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!



  2. Joslyn says:

    I have been told that this is also possible with a cup shaped leaf and a campfire, though I have to admit I had my doubts that it was true but if the principle holds, this experiment would indicate that it is possible! Isn’t science so cool!


    • Stick says:


      That would make sense. From what I understand, as long as water is in contact with the “pot” then it will be ok, unless exposed to some very high extremes maybe?

      And yeah, science is cool… 🙂



  3. Tom Pitts says:

    I remember doing this in a paper bathroom cup on a campfire during a Scout trip 20+ years ago. I don’t remember the bottom of the cup burning at the beginning, but I do remember that the top of the cup burned down to the water line. As the water boiled off, the cup kept burning down to the lower water line until it eventually burned down to the bottom of the cup.


    • Stick says:


      Admittedly, this was my first time doing anything like this… I have been wanting to try it for a while but never got around to it. Then when I got this book, it seemed like a great time to try…

      As far as the bottom burning, I think that this cup had a slight bit of wax coating on it, which may have contributed to burning the bottom up. Or maybe it was the intense heat from the Jetboil? It may have also been because the metal grate kind of burned into the bottom of the cup too…I am not sure… I should get a paper bowl and try it on the jetboil…

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by and commenting!



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