A little science, a little common sense, and our smart tips will get you there.

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Boiling water is about as basic as it gets. It's also a technique steeped in myth and hearsay, but you're not here for those old wives' tales. You just want to find out how to boil water faster, whether to cook your favorite pasta or to blanch a vegetable as your meal's side dish. We'll get there, but first, let's weed out the falsehoods. One particularly stubborn myth is that adding salt will make the water take longer to come to a boil. Chemically speaking, it's true that salt raises the boiling point; however, the amount of salt used in cooking applications is so small that it won't make a difference with timing. Consider this myth debunked, but what will always hold true is that you should season your water—especially for pasta!

water boiling in a stainless steel pot on gas stove
Credit: Getty/RyersonClark

Another myth that directly contradicts the truth is that cold water will boil faster than hot. Sometimes, the obvious answer really is the right one: Hot tap water will absolutely come to a boil faster than cold. Now that we've debunked the myths, here's what you need to do to get boiling.                                                                                                                                                           

Keep the Pot Covered

Trying to boil water in an uncovered pot is a little like trying to run backwards up a hill: you'll get there eventually, but why struggle? Just fit a lid snugly on top and you'll easily shave a few minutes off your time.

Spread Out

Increasing the surface area by using a wide pot or pan exposes more of the water to the hottest part of the pot, which is the bottom. It works great for thin vegetables like green beans that can flatten out in a skillet, but is not the best option for foods that require a deep pot like a head of cabbage

Use Less Water

Not everything you cook will need a giant vat of water—not even pasta! Just make sure you stir occasionally to keep the food circulating.

Take a Shortcut with Your Kettle

Using an electric kettle will jumpstart the boiling process. Boiling water in an electric kettle before pouring it in the pot to boil again may seem cumbersome, but it's a great time saver nonetheless.

Cooking in High Altitudes

This last tip isn't very useful for anyone living at sea level, but it's still good to know. At sea level, water boils at 212°F, but the higher you go in elevation the lower the boiling point will be, reducing the time it will take to boil by a few minutes. 

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