The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Last updated 03/01/2024


How to Boil Water in a Paper Pan
This page is being used to collect information about the history of boiling water in paper pans or kettles. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

Information about the use of Paper Pans in cookery can be found here.

Information about the paperfolding design known as the Kettle (and how to boil water inside it) can be found here.



A far as I know the first reference to boiling water in paper appears in the 5th edition of 'Das Buch der Zauberei' by Johann August Donndorff, which was published in Vienna in 1839.



'Spielbuch fur Knaben' by Hermann Wagner, which was published by Verlag von Otto Spamer in Leipzig in 1864, although the foreword is dated May 1863, which argues that the book was complete at that date, contains a section on boiling water in paper.



'La Nature' 370 of July 3rd, 1880 on p. 71-72, contained an article headed 'Les Physiques Sans Appareils' written by Gaston Tissandier which explained the 'Ebullition de l’eau dans un vase en papier' (Boiling water in a paper vase). The box is described as 'une petite boite rectangulaire, comme les ecoliers savent en confectionner' or, in English, 'a small rectangular box, which schoolchildren know how to make'. This effect was also subsequently included in the 1883 3rd Edition of Gaston Tissandier's 'Les Recreations Scientifique' and was probably also included in the 1880 1st and 1881 2nd editions.



The same illustration appears in 'Recreaciones científicas ó la física y la química sin aparatos ni laboratorio y solo por los juegos de la infancia' by Gaston Tissandier, a Spanish translation of 'Les Recreations Scientifique', which was published in Madrid in 1883.


The same illustration also appears in the English language version, 'Popular Scientific Recreations', which was published by Ward, Lock and Co Ltd in London and New York, also in 1883.



The effect also appears in 'Ciencia Recreativa' by Jose Estralella, which was published by Gustavo Gili in Barcelona in 1918.



'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth, which was first published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920, also shows how the Junk Box can be used as a saucepan to boil water over a candle.