The Versatile Kelly Kettle® a Prepper Essential

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by Col. D.

The Kelly Kettle® is an old invention from England used by fisherman to boil water easily with many different types of dry fuel. The kettles are made either out of aluminum or stainless steel depending on personal preference. In this article I will discuss the Kelly Kettle® stainless steel base camp model with a cooking kit and pot stand. Every prepper may wish to consider adding one of these to their essentials kit. The kettle boils water efficiently for sterilization, preparing instant meals or hot beverages.


The kettle consists of double walled metal sheets bonded together. The outer wall is symmetrical and round. The inside of the kettle is cone-shaped with the bottom being larger in diameter than the top. The inner metal housing is hemmed together on the bottom with a rolled edge and the top is similar. The interior of the Kettle is open from top to bottom and acts as the chimney. The enclosed cavity in my kettle holds 50 ounces of water within an internal reservoir. The kettle has a handle which consists of a wire bail spot welded to brackets on either side of the kettle. There is a wood dowel on the wire bail handle to prevent burning your hand when picking up a hot kettle. Attached to the back of the kettle is a chain attached to a rubber stopper to plug the pour spout and keep out dirt during storage. The firebase stores in the bottom of the kettle and the cooking kit stores inside the firebase. It’s worth mentioning however that once you burn the unit a few times the cooking kit doesn’t fit inside the fire base. This is due to soot buildup but this isn’t a show stopper.


How it works...

The Kettle comes complete with a base which sits under the reservoir. The base acts as the firebase which the kettle sits atop of. The chamber can be filled with small twigs, grass, paper, birch bark or any dry material which burns. Once you light a fire in the firebase the kettle acts as a very efficient chimney very similar to a rocket stove. Additional sticks or material can be dropped down the chimney to heat the inner metal surfaces. The heat generated through the chimney is conducted through the inner metal surface to the water contained between the inner and outer metal housings.

WARNING – make sure not to place the stopper in the pour spout when heating water on the firebase. Once the water boils it generates steam which will blow the stopper out under intense pressure! The stoves chimney is very hot so make sure to lift the kettle using the handle from the back and not from the top or you will burn your hand.


The kettle consistently boiled water in less than twelve minutes in many different types of weather. It took longer to get it going when it was misting or raining but it still managed to boil water without any trouble (12 minutes). In dry weather the kettle boiled a full pot in approximately 8 – 9 minutes. Dry grass and phone book paper each worked well to start the small sticks on fire. I didn’t have any birch bark to try but it most likely would work equally well. I used phone book paper since its free and for some reason they keep sending me new books every year! The amount of heat generated through the chimney was intense once it gets going. In a snowy environment it works best to place the kettle on a level surface off the snow by setting on a couple of small logs, on a rock or digging down to bare ground. The boiling water can be used for hot drinks and instant meals in the field. After using the Kelly Kettle® while hunting last fall I will never take another thermos into the woods again.


As an option a cooking kit and pot support are available for purchase with your kettle. I recommend you consider adding both to your order. The kit consists of a small pot with lid, a detachable handle and two grills for cooking on the firebase as a stand-alone grill. The pot support consists of two interlocking pieces of metal which drop down into the chimney. The pot is just that a small pot, the lid acts as a small frying pan which works well on the chimney or on the grill for frying or cooking. As mentioned previously the chimney puts out a lot of heat but I recommend you use dry wood and stock the chimney sufficiently prior to placing the pot on the pot support. Wood can also be fed through the hole on the side of the firebase to keep it going. Be aware that only small meals or items would be efficiently heated or cooked using this method but does work. To heat soups or canned items works reasonable well but cooking for a large group would not be very practical. You could cook an egg or round sausage in the pan if you desired and for one person it works well.


  • Stainless steel Kelly Kettle® with handle, chain and stopper
  • Cooking kit – pot/lid, detachable handle and two grill halves
  • Pot support
  • Storage bag with a drawstring
  • Directions – READ THESE FIRST


This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Stealth Body Armor Level II vest courtesy of SafeGuard ARMOR™ LLC and a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of   A total prize value of over $600.

Second Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Essentials Kit courtesy of LPC Survival and an EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves.. A value of over $300.

Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution”  and a Katadyn Siphon Water Filter courtesy of Mayflower Trading Company.  A total prize value of $107.

Contest ends on June 5 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. I just received my Kelly Kettle from Emergency Essentials. They have the complete set (pot stand, cook set etc. included) on sale this month. I look forward to using it. I also saw that there are smaller sizes available and thought one would be a great addition to a kit in my truck for heat/water/food prep!

  2. We purchased one of these last fall and like it so much we bought a second. What impressed us was the small amount of fuel (wood) necessary to boil water or cook a one pot meal quickly. This along with our Crises Cooker is all we need to cook without power for a long, long time.

  3. I have never seen this product.
    It looks like it works well and on reading reviews of it all seem to agree that it is a ver effeciant set up.

    This is going onto my wish list for prepping goods!

    Thank you for your artical


  4. I just bought online a little stove that comes in 5 pieces flat, about the size of a slice of bread, that assembles to burn wood. Basically you start some kindling in it, then get some bigger twigs and branches and stuff a hole in it’s side full and just keep feeding the wood in. It’s very effective and can boil water and cook bacon and accommodate pans, pots and other cookware. A good deal I think for $30 – if you’re interested I’ll review that too after I try it out! Seem to me though that this is a little more versatile than that kettle but I don’t know.

  5. JP in MT says:

    What a coincidence. This item is on sale in May from Emergency Essentials!

  6. i would have loved to get the kelly kettle but couldnt afford it for both my husband and i so i got the swiss volcano stove for $10 at cheaper than dirt- it works really well- i also got the canvas/nylon holder for it from there and it is a good cheaper alternative but i would still rather have the kelly kettle but at least i have something- something is better than nothing- thanks for the review

    • arkieready says:

      I have a swiss volcano also. Works fine! I like the price. Realizing some have the money for the high end stuff, stainless steel is way better, and that aluminum hasits issues, its what i own. I’d rather have a ss kelly, but maybe after i have other stuff i need. We must attend to our own priorities. (otherwise i’d be driving a new red dodge duelly instead of a 90’s chevy 1/2 ton. lol)

    • Pineslayer says:

      mama, I love my Volcano too. For the price, it can’t be beat. I sewed up an old jeans pants leg up and used it as my carry device.

  7. Uncle Charlie says:

    Here’s something that may go well with this item as well as many other uses called Insta-Fire.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Saw this product at the last SHOT Show. Will order some to test. Did have some issues with wet wood on my last camp. I always have some chopped up synthetic logs but they don’t burn that hot.

  8. I’m not sure what the advantage is of this product over a standard stainless coffee pot combined with a rocket stove (or campfire). At about $100 it seems rather specialized, and over-sized to just boil about a liter of water. With a coffee pot, you could make coffee, water, soup, etc., and it would be bigger than 50 oz (about a liter+), while a smaller package, and easier to clean.

    The 8 cup GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Percolator (almost 2 liter) is $43 on Amazon, and would be much more versatile, packable, and cheaper with a home made rocket stove (or campfire) than a Kelly Kettle.

    If money is no object and you’re looking for a specialized item for your back porch or car camping, ok, but I don’t see it as a practical prepper item.

    No offense, just my 2 cents.

  9. SurvivorDan says:

    Looks like a neat accessory. But I just got an Emberlit collapsible stove. For one or two people it can boil 24 oz of water in 7-8 min at 8400 feet elev.(where I was camping last week). You can use alcohol, sterno, etc. but I just used little sticks of pine. Burned hotter than hell. Stows up flat taking very little room. That said, I will gratefully accept a Kelly Kettle for testing! 😉

    • Pineslayer says:

      SD, never seen the Emberlit. Just got done researching them, sweet. The Titanium model looks purty.

      Is it possible to want one of each and not be a snobby preppy prepper? Still liking the Scout Kettle, do they make them in SS?

  10. Grannytraveler says:

    I also got the set-up from EE (including all the accoutrements and instafire) and plan on using it this summer while (car) camping. Using it mainly for heating water for dishes etc… I also have a volcano stove, solar, propane, etc., just about any method listed to cook. I figure on being prepared for any contingency. The kettle was my Mother’s Day present to myself. Just haven’t used it yet.

  11. Amaranth says:

    I agree about the Kelly kettle not being as versatile as some other set ups but I think the main point is how little fuel it takes and how fast it heats with so little fuel. If you’re in the woods with plenty of fuel, great, but in some environments every stick is hard won so it is good to have a device that is so fuel efficient.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Good point Amaranth. As I was starting to cut up firewood today when the haboob hit us – less fuel required is a good thing.

  12. I made my own rocket stove from old tin cans, and used an Army metal cup to boil water on top of it. Also made couscous in it. I think it boiled in about 5 minutes or less. It doesn’t pack down that great, but if you’re not backpacking that doesn’t matter. The drawback is, it’s only like a cup or so capacity, but I suppose one could get a bigger vessel to cook in, like another tin can. The other drawback is, you need a pot holder to pick it up. And thirdly, this is a drawback with most of these kind of mini stoves, it all gets sooty, so keep something to carry them in in the car when you’re done – maybe a paper or plastic bag, or a small box. And bring dish soap.

  13. AZ Rookie Prepper says:

    I have a Kelly Kettle and have used it extensively. Works great, but the little cookpot for the top doesnt hold much. Even so, I enjoy it a lot and am glad I purchased it.

  14. Prudent says:

    This thing looks great. Unless you don’t care to haul it around. Dosen’t look like a good candidate for a BOB or GHB. I’m not knocking the utility of the thing one bit. I’m thinking that, personellllly I’d just as soon keep the load not only light….. but small. I’m gonna go with the “Ember” stove. Light, flat, burns the same fuel, and ya gotta have a small pot no matter what stove ya pick. Kelly is cool but Ember is the functional winner for Meself. This thing is going to make a lot of folks happy campers so if its a fit for ya……. click and order.

  15. I saw this Kelly Kettle a couple years ago, thought it was a “really cool” idea and bought one. After 5 or 6 trips with it, I sold it.
    I find it is really only good for boiling water, which it does quite efficiently by wood burning or a small alcohol stove. If you are only planning to rehydrate food and make coffee or tea, or just boil water, it does that well; it does not provide any other real purpose, so the multipurpose requirement requirement for any [my] bug out item removes this from my list.
    Myself, I prefer a “bush buddy” or the stronger “Nomad” wood burning stove, which also holds an alcohol stove (Trangia or home made can) that nests nicely into the Snow Peak 900 ML titanium pot. Many more uses and versatility.

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