How To Make Hummingbird Nectar Without Boiling The Water (The Perfect Recipe)


To boil or not to boil to make homemade nectar? This is a debated question amongst hummingbird lovers.

All you need is a ratio of 1 part of white table sugar to 4 parts of water. While some people use tap water, you can also use distilled or filtered water at room temperature. Vigorous mixing will dissolve the sugar without the need for heat.

Read on to learn how to make sugar water without boiling, providing quality food for hummingbirds in a matter of minutes.

This article will also provide brief information about the debate on boiling.

The Debate: To Boil Or Not To Boil Water For Hummingbird Nectar

This table offers a quick glance at the pros and cons of using boiled or not boiled water:

Boiled WaterNOT Boiled Water

1. Boiling water kills germs
2. Boiling water for 15 minutes evaporates chlorine from tap water
3. Dissolves sugar quickly

1. Faster preparation (no need to wait for boiled water)
2. Healthy option if filtered or distilled water is used
3. Can be used immediately without waiting for it to cool
4. Safe for young children to make

1. Boiling can make a higher concentration of sugar as water evaporates, which is not the ideal recipe for hummers.
2. If a plastic feeder is not BPA-free, boiled water will cause it to release harmful chemicals into the solution.
3. You have to wait longer to use the solution while waiting for it to cool down.

1. Tap water may have chemical additives that are not healthy for birds
2. Sugar may take slightly longer to dissolve

The biggest concern with boiling water is that it can change the concentration of the ratio of sugar to water as it evaporates.  

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Too much sugar can lead to issues for the hummers such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Muscular weakness
  • Calcium deficiencies
  • Bone malformation
  • Soft-shelled eggs
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Most importantly, whichever method you choose the following must occur, or else the hummingbirds can get sick:

  • The ratio of sugar to water must be accurate.
  • The correct kind of sugar should be used.
  • Only use potable water suitable for consumption.
  • Feeders must be cleaned before refilling.

DIY No-Boil Hummingbird Nectar Recipe (Simple Steps)

This recipe uses a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar to most closely resemble flower nectar.

Any species of hummingbird is attracted to and will drink this kind of sugar water.


Please read carefully about the 2 ingredients needed for this recipe.

White Table Sugar: 1 Part

White table sugar is the only kind of sugar (sweetener) to use for hummingbirds.

Other sugar forms are processed differently, promote fungal growth, or contain components that are harmful to hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds cannot properly metabolize these, and they can become ill.

DO NOT use the following:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw/Organic sugar
  • Honey
  • Syrups
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Stevia

Water: 4 Parts

Use distilled, filtered, or tap water. If you opt for bottled water, check to make sure it is distilled or filtered and does not have any additives.

Never add red dye. This is detrimental to their health. 

Hummingbirds’ excellent eyesight allows them to see colors of flowers that offer high nectar content. A red-colored hummingbird feeder is sufficient without adding a red dye.

Tap Water

Warm or hot tap water can be used to dissolve sugar faster without boiling. Some people use tap water as is. 

You can use a filtered setting or pitcher to remove chlorine and any other impurities from tap water. 

If you do not have a filter, the chlorine will naturally evaporate from water in 1 to 5 days if left out in an uncovered container.

Warmed Water 

If you wish to warm up the water, do so before adding the sugar so you can ensure you have the right amount after any evaporation. 

If you choose to boil, boil more water than you need, and then measure the correct ratio for mixing.

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Warming can be done on the stovetop, stopping the water before it gets to a rolling boil, or in a microwave. Heat until it is warm to the touch. This prevents you from having to wait a long time for it to cool down. 

It is not recommended to use a coffee maker to heat water. This is because any stray coffee grounds can put caffeine into the water, which is very dangerous to birds’ cardiac health, and can cause death.

Room Temperature Water

Please note that sugar will dissolve in room-temperature water, with a bit of vigorous stirring.

Allow any refrigerated or cold tap water to reach room temperature.

Directions For Making Hummingbird Nectar

  1. Use a clean pitcher or pouring bowl for easy pouring and mixing.
  2. Add the water first.
  3. Slowly add the sugar in small increments, stirring vigorously each time.
  4. Continue stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. The water will look clear. 
  5. If the water was warmed in any way, allow the mixture to fully cool before adding it to the feeder.
  6. Store excess sugar water in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use this mixture to refill the feeder (more on that below).

Cleaning & Refilling The Hummingbird Feeder


Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned before refilling every time. 

This gives your hummingbirds healthy nectar and allows you to check for leaks and clean up any dripping residue that ants and bees like. 

Nighttime is ideal for cleaning feeders since hummingbirds go into torpor and sleep at night.

To clean your feeder, do the following steps:

  1. Dissemble parts.
  2. Use a mild dish detergent (unscented if possible) and warm water to hand wash all of the parts.
  3. Use a tiny bottle brush to gently clean the ports and any seams.
  4. Rinse all parts thoroughly.
  5. Allow all parts to fully dry before reassembling and adding the fresh nectar.


Never top off the feeder. Always add fresh nectar to an empty and clean feeder.

Homemade nectar, whether it is boiled or not, can spoil quickly, especially on hot summer days. Bacteria, mold, and fermentation of the sugar inside a feeder can make hummingbirds sick. If the water looks cloudy, change it right away.  

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The hotter it is outside, the more often the nectar should be changed. 

When the temperature reaches 92°F or higher, the nectar should be changed daily. 

On days that are 80°F to 90°F, the nectar can be changed every few days. 

Nectar water in 75°F or less may go as long as 6 days, but the hummingbirds may likely have consumed it before then.

This video briefly describes what you learned in this article:


It is quite enjoyable to watch hummingbirds drink the sweet sugar water that you lovingly prepared for them. Put your feeder out at the right time based on where you live.  

Homemade sugar water is simple, quick, and easy to do without the need to boil water. 

When making sugar water make sure to only use 1 part of white table sugar and 4 parts of room temperature tap, distilled, or filtered water. 

Stir the mixture until the water is clear. Pour the water into a clean and dry hummingbird feeder. 

Replace the nectar every few days, or daily in hot temperatures.

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James Goodman

James is a native Texan with a love for birding and outdoor adventures. When he's not birdwatching, you can find him hiking, camping or playing the piano.

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