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I want to do these but on camp and my resources are limited to a pot, eggs and 2-minute noodles. Is there any way to do at least one of the above? (Preferably the noodles?)

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    What do you mean by "with a lighter"? Camping stores sell minimum-weight, minimum-volume gas burners to be mounted on a small gas bottle, is that what you mean? Or are you asking for using a cigarette lighter of some sort?
    – rumtscho
    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:08
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    Welcome! You may want to take the tour, browse through our help center, especially How to Ask and edit your post accordingly. Maybe start with a short, but meaningful title and move the details into the question?
    – Stephie
    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:08
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    You can buy or make even smaller stoves (e.g. many alcohol stoves, or hexamine/fire dragon blocks) than those @rumtscho mentions. You may find some of the answers under the stoves tag at outdoors.se helpful.
    – Chris H
    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:53
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    You can probably eat the noodles raw though (instant noodles are usually pre-fried so it's not really 'raw').
    – Luciano
    Mar 27, 2019 at 11:56
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    @Luciano : it's a common hiker thing to eat them uncooked. (you need a change of pace, and you get some texture that way that you don't get with cooked). I've heard of using them as crackers with other stuff, or break them up in the packet, mix in the seasoning pack, and eating them that way
    – Joe
    Mar 27, 2019 at 23:29

2 Answers 2

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Physics time. First the basic data:

  • A lighter holds a few grams of butane (Bic apparently 4.5 g).
  • Butane has an energy density of 49 MJ/kg (i.e. 49 kJ/g)
  • It takes 4.2 J/g/°C to heat water.
  • I assume you want to reach 100°C, are starting at 20°C and don't evaporate any (this carries away a lot of heat).
  • I further assume you can get all the heat from the lighter into your pan without losses.

That lighter then holds 220 kJ of energy. This is enough to heat 655 g (just over a UK pint) of water to boiling point. So you've just about got the energy but have you got the power? Time for another assumption: a lighter puts out a similar amount of heat to a candle (40--80 W, I'll use the higher figure).

Those noodles probably need you to heat around 200 ml of water. That means delivering 4.2*200*80 = 67.2 kJ of heat. At 80 W that will take 840 s, or 14 minutes. Bringing an egg to the boil (eggs are mostly water and you'll need some water to contain the egg and transfer heat to it) will be similar.

In reality it will take longer as you can't avoid losing some heat. The lighter may not survive being run continuously for that long, so I'd say it's highly impractical. People have been known to use a few candles to heat water; with a good windshield/pot skirt you just about get something usable, but not really practical.

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    Better off to use lighter to light some wood and then commence to cooking.
    – fixit7
    Mar 27, 2019 at 13:30
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    @fixit7, even better to light a stove, but neither that nor your suggestion answers the question as asked
    – Chris H
    Mar 27, 2019 at 13:39
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You can absolutely "cook" instant noodles in cold water - it just takes longer. The soup flavorings are a different matter as they require a bit of heat to get the oils melted. Having never tried this, I can't say for sure, but I would think the oils will be melted at body temp - so stick the packet down your shirt or against your skin for a while, and they should melt enough to make the soup.

As for eggs - if you are taking them backpacking, I would strongly suggest hard boiling them before you go. That way you don't need to a) worry about them cracking and spilling egg everywhere (and rendering them inedible with shell bits), b) increasing the shelf-life, and c) ease of consumption - no need to heat.

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