A Watched Pot Never Boils

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Have you ever heard the old saying:

A watched pot never boils?


Although we know it will eventually boil, did you know that if you cover the pot when bringing water to a boil, it will actually boil faster?

Why Should We Cover The Pot?

Well, when you are trying to heat water in an uncovered pot, some of the heat escapes in the form of vapor. So, the heat that could be raising the temperature of the liquid is busy heating up the outside air. Covering the pot prevents the water vapor from escaping and so it kept inside the pot, which helps heat up the water too. The temperature of the water will rise faster, because the quicker you can get the water hot, the quicker it will boil.

Placing a lid on the pot will not only help it boil faster, it also blocks us from seeing the water heating up…  which based on the old saying, we know prevents the water from boiling! 🙂 (just kidding)

But remember, this rule only applies to water. So, if  the pot is just plain water (no food), then you can crank up the heat and cover the pot. But if food is in the water, change your approach. You MIGHT be able to cover it and bring it to a boil faster, but it will depend on what the food is. So we recommend you refer to the recipe you are cooking for specific cooking instructions. Or err on the side of caution and go for a lower temperature and a slower boil.

Should We Salt the Water?

It is an old wives tale that salting the water will help it boil faster. In fact, adding salt will increase the boiling point for the water. But, ironically, even with the higher boiling point, salt water actually does boil faster than pure water. Why? Because salt water has a lower heat capacity than pure water. This means that it does not take as much energy to boost the temperature of salt water as it does to heat up pure water. BUT you need to be careful using salt in the water. Salt can change the taste of a recipe dramatically. So if it is not a recipe you would normally salt, skip it.

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