Using the carminic acid assay, we determined the concentration of boron in oilfield waters. We investigated the effect of high concentrations of salts and dissolved metals on the assay performance. The influence of temperature, development time, reagent concentration, and water volume was studied. Ten produced and flowback water samples of different origins were measured, and the method was successfully validated against ICP-MS measurements. In water-stressed regions, produced water is a potential source of fresh water for irrigation, industrial applications, or consumption. Therefore, boron concentration must be determined and controlled to match the envisaged waste water reuse. Fast, precise, and onsite measurements are needed to minimize errors introduced by sample transportation to laboratories. We found that the optimum conditions for our application were a 5:1 mixing volume ratio (reagent to sample), a 1 g L(-1) carminic acid concentration in 99.99% sulfuric acid, and a 30 min reaction time at ambient temperature (20 °C to 23 °C). Absorption values were best measured at 610 nm and 630 nm and baseline corrected at 865 nm. Under these conditions, the sensitivity of the assay to boron was maximized while its cross-sensitivity to dissolved titanium, iron, barium and zirconium was minimized, alleviating the need for masking agents and extraction methods.