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Temperature

Salt Won't Help Your Water Boil Faster

As they say, "a watched pot never boils" (actually, that was Benjamin Franklin). If you want your water to boil faster, just add some salt. Right? Nice try, but no: the notion that salt boils your water faster is an old wives' tale. Not only does it not help, it hurts, since salt actually has the opposite effect on boiling water.

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Let's have a quick chemistry lesson, shall we? Salt increases water's boiling point, or the temperature it must reach in order to boil. This happens through a phenomenon aptly named boiling point elevation, which occurs when what's known as a non-volatile solute, such as salt, is added to a solvent, such as water, to raise its boiling point. It can happen with any combination of non-volatile solute and solvent, not just salt water. This new salt water solution needs more heat to start boiling than pure water does, so the time it takes to boil increases slightly. So your water is hotter, but it's not boiling any faster. The moral of the story: salt improves the taste of your cooking, but not the time it takes. To learn more about the chemistry of salt and common food myths, watch the following videos.

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How Does Salt Melt Ice?

Salt isn't hot—it disrupts freezing. Learn about this chemical reaction below.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The reason salt is used to clear up snow and ice isn't due to melting, but freezing point depression. 00:37

  2. The chloride leftover from winter salt can have potentially negative affects on the environment. 01:29

  3. Here's a few alternatives to salt and sand that can help dissolve ice: 02:11

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