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August 31, 2022  |  Kitchen

Some think salted water boils faster; our cooking and baking expert weighs in

If you’ve been sprinkling salt in water in hopes to make it come to boil faster, you can cease this practice — the addition of salt has no effect on the time it takes for water to boil. 

For a definitive answer as to why, we turned to BestReviews’ cooking and baking expert Andrea Boudewijn. A Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef, Boudewijn provided the facts behind this myth and suggested some products you’ll use time and again when preparing a recipe that calls for you to boil water. 

About the salted water myth

If you’ve spent time in the kitchen around home cooks, you’ve probably encountered one who would put a dash of salt in water to make it boil faster. Maybe you watched your grandparents or parents do this, and you’ve continued the practice in your own kitchen. However, Boudewijn said salt doesn’t decrease boil time.

“When you add salt, the water raises the boiling point, making the water hotter by about one degree. The best feature of adding salt to water is the flavor enhancement to items like pasta and rice,” she said. “There are several theories about where this idea came from, but I think it was just an old misunderstanding about how the chemical properties of salt affect heat.” 

Factors that affect how long it takes water to boil

While salt doesn’t make water boil faster, there are some factors that do play a role in the time it takes bubbles to begin to roll in a heated pot of water. 

Burner settings 

Although high settings typically make water boil faster, Boudewijn said burner settings vary based on whether a stove is induction, electric or gas.  

Lid vs. no lid 

Cooks have debated whether a pot of water boils faster if it’s covered or uncovered. Make use of your pot’s lid next time you boil water, as Boudewijn said it will definitely reach a boil sooner when covered. 

Pot size

When it comes to achieving a full boil in a pot of water, the size of the cookware matters, Boudewijn said. “The size of the pot dictates the depth of the water — shallow water boils faster than deeper,” she advised. 

Tips

There are many reasons to boil water when cooking. Boudewijn provided some tips for preparing a few of the most popular dishes that require boiling water. 

1. Give boiling eggs space to tumble and move gently during boiling. I use a four-quart saucepan to boil about seven eggs.

2. Eggs can crack and leak during boiling when there’s a wide temperature difference between the egg and the water. To avoid cracking eggs during boiling, let the eggs come to room temperature before placing them in warm water, then bring them gently up to boil with the water. 

3. When cooking dried pasta, bring seasoned water to a boil, then add the pasta along with a healthy glug of olive oil to prevent the water from boiling over.

4. Rice prefers room temperature water. Add your rice, and bring it up to a gentle boil. Then turn it down to simmer until the water is gone and you can hear the rice gently crackling against the bottom of the pot or pan.

FAQ

Q. What are some reasons I may need to boil water in the kitchen?

A. Boudewijn said there are several key reasons to boil water for cooking and more. “Boiling water is used for boiling eggs, pasta, rice, to purify water and for various crafts projects like tie-dye,” she said.

Q. About how long does it take water to boil?

A. Although the reasons our cooking expert pointed out can affect the time it takes for water to reach a boiling point, she advised that it generally takes about 10 minutes on the highest setting for boiling to occur. 

What you need to buy for cooking with boiling water

Best Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 4-Quart Nonstick Hard Anodized Saucepan

Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 4-Quart Nonstick Hard Anodized Saucepan

Because this saucepan offers heat-resistant hard anodized construction, it’s ideal for bringing a pot of water to a boil. It’s a versatile 4-quart model that comes with a tempered glass lid and limited lifetime warranty. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Sur La Table

Best Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

Boudewijn recommended having kosher salt on hand when making recipes that call for boiling water and salt to improve the flavor. Diamond Crystal kosher salt is a good choice, thanks to the coarse texture and lower sodium content than some competing brands. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Le Creuset Revolution Solid Wood Spoon

Le Creuset Revolution Solid Wood Spoon

When boiling water for a recipe, chances are you’ll need a spoon for stirring during cooking and serving when it’s done. The Revolution beechwood spoon is a good pick, as it’s durable yet safe for use on most cookware surfaces.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best T-Fal Specialty Stainless Steel Tea Kettle

T-Fal Specialty Stainless Steel Tea Kettle

Boudewijn reminded us that there’s more than one way to boil water, and she recommended keeping a tea kettle on hand. This model is crafted of quality stainless steel that heats quickly and distributes heat evenly. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Libbey Small Glass Bowls, Set of 8

Libbey Small Glass Bowls, Set of 8

After boiling water and cooking rice, you’ll need bowls to serve it. There are eight small glass bowls in this set that are just right for serving rice as a side dish.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Gibson Home Rockaway 12-Piece Dinnerware Set

Gibson Home Rockaway 12-Piece Dinnerware Set

Pasta is one of the main dishes that requires boiling water to prepare. Large dinner plates like the ones in this set of 12 are perfect for when it’s time to serve rotini, spaghetti, lasagna and more. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best OXO Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs

OXO Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs

The list of products Boudewijn recommended for cooking with boiling water includes tongs for serving pasta. A slip-resistant handle, locking design and a 16-inch length are selling points of these OXO Good Grips tongs. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Philips Viva Pasta Maker

Philips Viva Pasta Maker

There’s no need to buy boxed pasta when you have your own pasta maker. Not only is the Viva easy to use to knead dough and make fresh pasta, but it is also compact and doesn’t take up a lot of storage space. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Sur La Table

Best Cuisinart 12-Quart Chef’s Classic Stainless Steel Pasta Steamer Set

Cuisinart 12-Quart Chef’s Classic Stainless Steel Pasta Steamer Set

When preparing generous portions of food for a group, a 12-quart pot is a must. The Chef’s Classic set is made of stainless steel, plus it comes with a steamer basket, pasta insert and lid for cooking pasta. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Home Depot and Kohl’s

 

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.