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Boiling water in a paper bag sounds like an impossible task. The paper bag should burn up, leaving the water to put out the fire. Old time campers are first shown this probably when they were in the Scouts or similar youth movement. It is based on the scientific principle that water cools the bag enough so that it cannot catch on fire, while the heat from the fire dries the bag sufficiently to prevent water soaking.

At Park Farm Camping we explain how to do it courtesy of Ann Baley who writes for Gone Outdoors:


  1. You probably already have a campfire from making damper and toasting those marshmallows. Allow the fire to burn down to hot embers but won’t go out. Make sure that the area around the fire is level and there is room to set the bag close to the fire and the embers.
  2. Fold the upper edge of the bag down one inch towards the outside. Make two more folds in the same manner, creating a cuff around the top edge of the bag.
  3. Place the bag on the ground as close to the fire as possible, and immediately pour in water, filling the bag about three quarters full.
  4. Allow the water to boil in the bag. Use a cup to scoop it out if you want to make tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Add more water to the bag to replenish the supply as you use it.
  5. When you are ready to put out your campfire, lift up the bag. The bottom of the bag will come undone, as the heat has loosened the glue. The water will help put out the fire.

Soyers Paperbag Cookery (1911)There are many food items that can be cooked in a paper bag.  The most popular of course is bacon and eggs.

The example in this photo shows an alternative way to hold the bag over your open campfire.  The same principle applies – the egg yolk is runny and the bacon is fatty so they prevent the bag burning.

When holding the bag over the coals with a stick be careful not to let the stick catch fire!