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Thermettes: 2 litres in 2 minutes

Miriam Richardson

I have carried my thermette with me since I went on the road, but it has had little use. I seem to to have spent much of the outdoor-weather time in places with fire dangers. Now it is winter most fire bans are off, though the lure of outdoors is not as strong.

My thermette is old and rusty but perfectly serviceable. I thought it might be the perfect way to get rid of paper rubbish while I am travelling, so I keep a $2-shop metal sieve with it so I can keep any hot flying debris inside the chimney.

‘Thermette’ is a brand but has become its common name. NZ made them from 1929 and they were issued to NZ soldiers in WWII, becoming known as ‘Benghazi boilers’, as the Kiwi soldiers used them in the Benghazi desert, burning diesel for fuel. Round black marks on the sand were the sign Kiwis had camped here. Other variations of the idea include Kelly kettles, (Ireland, 1900), Volcano kettles, (UK, 1928). 

They consist of a water jacket which is also the chimney, protecting the flame from wind and rain, and needing only twigs for fuel. They are very efficient, heating 2.2L in 2 minutes. Sadly, I don’t have the ring for the top which lets you cook over the chimney. 

I keep admiring the beautiful new copper thermettes that are now available. Would need some soot and flame to break it in. One day… 

For sale on Complete Outdoors (Image, Complete Outdoors)

Photo: ©2024 M Richardson

oh for a beautiful copper thermette

, p


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