Does Water Take Longer to Boil if You Watch?

Boiling water is one of the most basic forms of cooking that millions of people do daily. Despite it being a common task, some uninformed people are under the impression that water takes longer to boil if you watch it, because of the old saying. While it is true that it does seem like it takes much longer for the water to boil if you stare at it, watching won’t make the water boil any slower.

Does water take longer to boil if you watch?

The old express “a watched pot never boils”, isn’t meant to be taken literally. It is merely a saying that means when you wait for something to happen it feels like it takes forever to actually occur. This is true for water to boil as well.

If you’re boiling water, it is probably just the start of your cooking or baking process, and you need the water to boil before you can move onto the next step. Standing there just waiting for the water to boil can cause your brain to interpret time differently than if it was distracted by another chore.

This doesn’t just occur with boiling water, it can also happen while waiting at a doctor’s office or in line at the grocery store. The mere act of standing there not doing anything but waiting for your turn, or the water to boil, can sometimes feel like an eternity, even if it has only been 10 minutes.

How long does it take for water to boil?

Water boils at 212-degrees Fahrenheit, which means it has to reach this temperature before it can start to boil. The amount of time it takes for water to boil depends on the size of the pot, the amount of water in the pot, and the amount of heat applied.

On high heat using a standard-sized sauce pot, it will take about 10 minutes for room temperature water to boil.

How to make water boil faster – 6 tips

Even though you can’t make water boil faster or slower by watching it, there are a few things you can do that can actually help speed up the process.

1. Start with hot water

Instead of filling the pot up with cold water, turn the tap to the hottest setting and then fill up the pot. Filling the pot with hot water means it will take less time to reach the required temperature for the water to start boiling.

2. Turn up the heat

Once you have the water in the pot, use the highest setting on your stove to get the water boiling faster. Once the water reaches a roiling boil, reduce the heat and use it as you normally would.

3. Use less water

The more water that is in the pot, the longer it will take to reach the boiling point. You can reduce the time it takes to boil by simply using less water in the pot. It is not uncommon for some cooks to add more water than necessary, which increases the amount of time it takes for the water to heat up. If you need to boil water as quickly as possible, use the minimum amount of water that is required for your needs.

4. Use a smaller pot

Instead of grabbing just any pot to cook with, select one that matches the amount of food you are cooking. For example, if you’re merely cooking pasta for one person, you don’t need a large stock pot. Instead, use a smaller pot and fill with just enough water needed to cook that small portion of paste. This will go a long way to not only making the water boil faster, but also reducing your cooking time.

5. Cover the pot

When you cover the pot, it helps to keep the heat inside, which then heats up the air inside the pot. This hot air circulates back into the water. This constant cycle helps to decrease the amount of time it takes for the water inside the pot to boil.

6. Keep the water shallow

Shallow water isn’t as deep, which means the water level is thinner and it won’t take as much time for it to heat up. Unfortunately, this tip isn’t great for cooking a lot of food, since it reduces the amount of water you have in the pan.


Key Takeaways

  • Watching water doesn’t affect the length of time it takes to boil.
  • Water has to reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit before it begins to boil.
  • The hotter the water is when it goes into the pan, the less amount of time it takes to boil.

The length it takes for water to boil isn’t affected by whether or not you watch it. It just seems like it takes longer because you are taking your time and energy to sit and watch the water. Waiting is often the hardest part.

What you can do instead to help pass the time is implement another chore while waiting for the water to boil. For example, if you’re cooking dinner, you can start prepping other parts of the meal while the water is heating up on the stove. Cutting vegetables, washing some dishes, and even mixing up the spices for your sauce can all help the time go by faster.