How to use a storm kettle

Storm Kettle or Kelly Kettle

Storm Kettle or Kelly Kettle

Storm kettles or Kelly Kettles as they are sometimes known are a fun piece of kit that are reasonably cheap and fun to use especially with children.

They can be used in a small outdoor space like a back garden without the fear of a small fire getting bigger and out of control. They allow a budding fire starter a great way to practice their skills of lighting and managing fire whilst learning all the aspects of safety with the bonus of having boiled their water for a hot chocolate or two!

Controlled fire management

Controlled fire management

Setting it up

The main things to consider when setting it up are:

  • You can move all the way around it without fear of knocking it.
  • The base is placed on the floor or very low down and on a solid base. The base can get very hot and will scorch the surface it is on. TIP: Before lighting it attach the body with the weight of the water in to test its stability.
  • Test the wind direction: turn the base so the wind enters into the vent hole at an acute angle and not directly into it or not at all. Tip: You will learn to adjust this through experience depending on the wind strength.
The body has two ports at the top. One is the 'chimney' and feed port the other for water.

The body has two ports at the top. One is the 'chimney' and feed port the other for water.

Once your ready light your fire!

If you are a proficient fire lighter you will know to start small with your kindling once you have your tinder alight. If you have little experience you may want to look at our basic fire lighting skills post.

Get a reasonable fire underway that is starting to burn nicely before lifting the body on to the base. Too soon and the fire will struggle, but if you've got the vent aligned to the wind, you'll be surprised how it will draw the fire quickly.

The Kettle is fed through the top port

The Kettle is fed through the top port

Put the kettle on!

Once you have lifted the body on:

How a Kelly Kettle works?

The kettle comes usually in two sizes 2ltr or 1ltr and has two parts, the base and body:

  • The Base - when separated is where the initial fire is lit. It has a hole in the side that acts as a vent for the crucial draft and additional feed of the fire.
  • The Body - is in effect a double skinned chimney that creates a chamber that holds water. It is the action of the fire being drawn up the 'chimney' that boils the water in the outer wall.  There will be a swing up handle and a large cork for the water port normally on a chain.
The Kelly Kettle come in two parts

The Kelly Kettle come in two parts

Preparation is the key to success

One of the amazing things about the kettle is that it can boil the water within with just using twigs found laying abundantly under trees. Good job they are abundant as it can take a lot depending how dry they are.

So make sure you take the time to collect loads and place them in accessible piles near to hand. There's is nothing worse than getting almost there and running out of fuel, trotting off for more, only to return to a dying fire!

If you are 'brewing up' get your mug and brew kit out ready to go. TIP: The least amount of movement around the kettle when it's lit the better.

Be careful peering in if you have a fringe or value your eyebrows!

Be careful peering in if you have a fringe or value your eyebrows!

a Blog of sorts!

If you are just getting into the outdoors or maybe wanting to expand your skills this selection of short Blogs may help broaden your horizon.

All things outdoors!

The Blogs are varied in subject, but all on the theme of outdoor stuff. It may be about Skills, Equipment, Walking, our activities or even Books.  

Browse through our archive below and see it something of interest is there for you!


Additional stuff to consider as you sit back and enjoy your brew

  • Accessories
  • Safety


  • Place the cork loosely over the water port. this helps to boil the water quickly and stops you feeding the wrong port!
  • Start feeding the top port, not to fast not to slow, experience of fires will help. TIP: To avoid burns, feed the twigs in from the side and drop them over the rim of the chimney port.
  • If there is little wind and you are struggling to get a draw, you can carefully blow into the base port to to give the fire and oxygen boost.
  • If the fire is not robust enough to tolerate twigs being dropped on to it from the top port, you can gently place twigs in through the base port and get them where they're needed.
big mug (on a fashioned mug rest) & brew kit ready

big mug (on a fashioned mug rest) & brew kit ready

Time for a well earned hot brew!

Once you've got the water boiling it's time to make your drink. This is by far the most dangerous part so read carefully for tips!

  • Once boiled stop feeding it immediately.
  • Remove the cork carefully whilst holding the swing handle
  • Place your mugs to the side you can fill them unobstructed. TIP: NEVER let anyone hold a cup you are transferring hot water into., insist they place it down.
  • Hold the swing handle in one hand and the cork in the other. Lift and pour the water using a careful balance of both hands.
  • Then place the body to the side not back on the base. Because there are often half burnt twigs that are in the chimney, that when lifted, fall down and sit on the rim of the base. This scan cause the kettle to sit unbalanced and tip over.