Plastic Bottle Cooking – With A Twist

Recently I visited a elderly friend that has lived over half his life in the outdoors – and has stayed in a variety of shelters ranging from tents to caves. Our conversations often center around bushcraft and camping. He shared with me a method of boiling water and cooking food using a plastic bottle.

There have been a number of on-line videos that have demonstrated the process of heating water inside a plastic water bottle. They employ bottles full of water whether capped or open and placed in a fire or suspended over it. But this method has a new twist (literally). It is hand-held and turned slowly over a fire like a rotisserie and can be used to cook food or make safe drinking water. I decided to try it out for myself.

I raided my refrigerator for items similar to what might be found in the field. I cut small slices of cabbage and onion for veggies and added small pieces of raw chicken for meat. I placed them into a wide mouthed Gatorade bottle and then filled it about half way with water. Then I built a campfire outside in a fire tray.

After the fire was well under way I held the open bottle by the neck using both hands to slowly rotate it like a rotisserie while tilting it at an angle with the bottom portion positioned over the flames. Eventually steam rises out of the mouth of the bottle so you need to be careful when handling it. You may notice that the bottom shrinks slightly once heated. It was getting dark outside and combined with the sooty bottom, it was hard to see the internal contents so I took about 20 minutes to make sure that it was well cooked. One simple guide to determine when food is fully cooked is when transparent meat becomes opaque, and opaque vegetables become transparent.

I walked back into the house and poured the contents into a bowl. To my delight it was completely cooked and tasted wonderful with NO plastic or sooty taste whatsoever. Some folks may have reservations regarding out-gassing of heated plastic. I view this issue on par with eating edible plants that have been collected close to roadways… toxic issues are very slight and only become problems over repeated long term usage. In an emergency situation, drastic measures may be required that can out-weigh possible negative factors.

This can be a fun project to do now that will better prepare you in the event of an emergency later.

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2 thoughts on “Plastic Bottle Cooking – With A Twist

  1. This is a neat trick and has many uses, but I wonder….there is so much floating around about toxins that are emitted when plastic bottles/utensils/etc are exposed to heat, sunlight, micro waves, that I question the safety of this method of cooking. PCB’s can be deadly, short and long term. While I realize the name of the game is “survival,” has anyone checked out the cooked contents of a bottle to see what might be in them? Not that someone would be making a habit of bottle cooking, but who knows how much is too much?

  2. Does it have to be cooked over a fire? I mean, is it possible to just put the food in a bottle, and drop the bottle into boiling water with the cap on for 30 minutes or so? (That is, if you have the luxury of having a large pot to put the boiling water into) That way, the temperature would be lower emitting less toxic gases, allow you the option to walk away and not have stay with it to turn it, the contents would be under pressure thus raising the temperature inside a few degrees more, (pressure cooking it), and lastly, not burn or blacken the bottom of the plastic?

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