An old wives’ tale is a frequently practiced superstition or belief that is often regarded as unscientific or incorrect. Old wives’ tales have actually been influencing society for centuries and also can be anything indigenous scaring someone when they have the hiccups to drink whisky and lemon tea come cure a cold. These superstition-based truth have had a major influence on household traditions, and even culture as they continue to be passed on indigenous generation to generation. Among the most practical old wives’ story that has come to be a day-to-day routine because that many world is adding a pinch of salt to a pot water to assist it cook faster. This simple method has come to be common exercise for both experienced chefs and home cooks alike. Numerous professional chefs swear through this food preparation method, but does adding salt actually make the water cook faster? Or, is this hand-me-down cooking method more fiction 보다 fact?

Properties that Salt Water

Adding salt to water does two things, it increases the boiling point and reduce the details heat capacity. Particular heat capacity refers to the amount of heat that is forced to raise the temperature the a problem by one level Celsius. A liquids boiling suggest is the temperature at which the substance will starts to readjust state from a liquid to a gas. The heat capacity of salt water is substantially lower than that of new water. This means that salt water isn’t together resistant come a change in temperature than freshwater is for this reason less heat is compelled to rise the temperature of salt water. This heat property could work in the chef’s favor and decrease the lot of time forced for the water to start to boil, however, the boiling allude of salt water is greater than the of new water measured in ~ 102°C contrasted to 100°C. These 2 properties conflict and will work against each various other unless the salt concentration is high sufficient to against the greater boiling point of salt water.

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Figure 1: Water reaching its boiling suggest and transforming from a fluid to a gas.

Salt water requires a greater temperature prior to transitioning native a fluid to a gas than fresh water does as result of the phenomenon well-known as boiling suggest elevation. The addition of any type of non-volatile solute (such together salt, baking soda or sugar) come a liquid will cause a decrease in the liquids vapor pressure. A fluid will begin to boil as soon as its vapor push is equal to the atmospheric pressure, so a reduced vapor pressure method you need a greater temperature to cook the water. This phenomenon additionally explains why water boils in ~ a reduced temperature at the height of a hill than that does in ~ sea level. On the top of a mountain there is less atmospheric push so it will take much less time for the vapor push to complement that value. When salt is added to a pot that water is additionally makes it more challenging for water molecules to escape from the pot and enter the gas phase as vapor or steam. This is an additional contributor come the greater boiling point of salt water compared to that of new water. The lower heat capacity that salt water is triggered by the bonding that salt ion to water molecules. This salt ions hold the water molecules in place, making it more complicated for them to relocate freely. As a result, the non-salt bonded molecules receive much more of the energy detailed by the warm transfer arising through the stove and will obtain hotter and boil faster.

Figure 2: Iodized salt (salt provided for seasoning and cooking).

Cooking with Salt Water

In regards to cooking, many individuals normally add around a tespoon (3g) the salt per liter that water. Adding this little amount that salt will “technically” do the water cook faster, however, it would only result in a distinction no much more than a couple of seconds. In order to trigger a substantial difference in boil time, the pot would have to contain end a 20% salt concentration. Because that example, pot A has actually 100g of water and pot B has actually 80g of water and also 20g the salt. Pot A (just water) will have a higher heat capacity and also will require much more energy come boil. The salt in pot B would have dissolved and now has a lower heat capacity 보다 pot A. The pot include a 20% salt concentration will warm up end 25 time faster and win the race to reach its boil point, however, this would reason the water to be exceptionally salty and make the food inedible.

Figure 3: cooking pasta.


Ocean water only has a 3.5% salt concentration and the bulk of civilization would never use it to cook with. In bespeak to watch a significant difference in boil time better than a couple of seconds over there would should be very high concentration that salt current in the water, most likely over 20%. Cooking with this concentration that salt would instantly damage a food by causing the food to end up being extremely salty and also unpalatable. Even though this old wives’ tale is an ext fiction than fact, plenty of chefs proceed to add a pinch that salt to their pot of boiling water. Some various other reason for adding salt could be that it enables a an ext even and thorough cooking of the food, or the it help pasta noodles and also other species of starches not stick together. Every little thing the factor for adding salt to a pot water, the boiling time will certainly decrease as whole due come the natural thermal properties of salt water and for some individuals, saving simply three seconds could make all the difference in the world.

Author: Kallista Wilson | Junior technical Writer | Fredericton


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