Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gear that works: The Thermette from New Zealand

After decades of roaming the globe and seeking the wisdom of elders, I have discovered the secret of happiness: Hot water. If you can start the day with a cup of tea and end it by cleaning up, almost anything in between is bearable. It weighs three pounds, so it's not for backpacking when weight and bulk are critical. But when you're camping by canoe, sled, horse, car, or airplane, this wood-burning gizmo is the best way to get hot water. It out-performs the similar but better-known Kelly Kettle. A double-handful of pine cones, twigs, trash or dried horse shit (no, it doesn't smell) will give you a half gallon of boiling water in short order. It comes with a stainless steel ring that fits on top, so you can cook with it to boot (yes, even when it's burning dried horse shit). There's no petroleum-based fuel to buy, carry, spill or smell (gasoline smells but dried horse shit doesn't). There aren't any moving parts to wear out or break. Thermettes have become expensive recently, but if you're handy perhaps you could fabricate something similar. I've scavenged some copper roofing and one of these rainy days will make some paper patterns and give it a go. Anybody know how to silver solder?


nativetimber said...

just wondering if your fingers get burnt on the handles of ur 2 litre copper thermette?
and the big ss thermettes,
are the handles stong enough ?
the tap thats attached has a plastic/rubber seal, have u had any trouble with it ?
best wishes

Oblio13 said...

No problems with burning my fingers so far. But I've been told that the latest runs of Thermettes are made in China and the handles are less substantial.

The big stainless steel thermets are built like tanks, the handles are heavy-duty and welded on. No problems at all with any aspect of them, although I imagine that if you boiled it dry, the rubber gasket would melt.