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Home > Magazine > Cooking > A Ghillie Kettle from Ben's Backwoods

A Ghillie Kettle from Ben's Backwoods
December 06, 2010

I enjoy tin-can twig-stoves, but I just got to test a high-end true-blue traditional Ghille Kettle, imported from chilly, rainy Ireland by the folks at bensbackwoods.com.

It's like a twig-stove on overdrive. It's like a thermos with its own built-in stove! And it has a chimney! The water-space is actually in the "walls" of the unit. The chimney is the key to its blast furnace performance...and tolerance of bad fuel. Ghillies are salmon fishing guides -- you know they're used to dealing with bad conditions.

I busted up a dozen pencil-size twigs found on the ground in the snow and I crumpled up a few dry leaves from under the picnic table, then I stuck my lighter in one of the vent-holes and it started blazing right away. You load the separate base with a bit of fuel first then set the kettle on top. I then fed a bunch of twigs down the chimney. The draft of the chimney made the lighter flame itself to flare up hotter than usual. My lame fuel didn't want to burn but it HAD to, due to the updraft.

I have the smallest of 3 available units -- it holds about 3 cups, 500+ml water -- two big mugs, for sure.

This brand of kettle is unique due to its whistle, which makes it easy to know when the water's done. It took a minute for my smoking fuel to take off, then it turned into a jet engine. It wasn't loud, but it boiled the water in another minute.

Since the kettle is a stove, don't touch it! Use the handle and cap-chain to handle it. Then roll it around in snow when you're done (or whatever), to cool it off. And watch where you set it to cook since it'd scorch a tabletop (they make a stand).

Ben also sells a cooking kit that goes with it. Both the stove base and all the other kit goodies are made to nest within the underside of the kettle, keeping things tidy for this bit bigger than a thermos sized unit.

It's made of *spun* aluminum (rotary milled) -- here's the website for more details from the home company in the UK: www.ghillie-kettle.co.uk/.

Caveat: Ben advertises on OYB.

Here's a little YouTube of the kettle in action:


The twigs.


Mmm, good. Swiss Miss, dark chocolate. ...And coffee. ...And brandy. The winter drink!


The chimney is doing its thing!

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