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Mess-free Cooking: How Does A Wooden Spoon Keep Water From Boiling Over?

The wooden spoon, due to its rugged texture, has plenty of surface area to absorb water bubbles.

The wooden spoon, due to its rugged texture, has plenty of surface area to absorb water bubbles.

It has to do with the rugged texture and hydrophilic nature of wood.

Over the years, modernisation has taken over and for the good. From writing letters to communicating over phone or via social media platforms, the world has come a long way. Cooking techniques and dishes have also evolved. There was a time when people used to cook in earthen utensils. But with modernised stoves and other cooking equipment, cooking has become far easier.

However, even in this modern era, some ancient hacks can come to our disposal. Often while cooking, individuals are occupied in more than one task at a time. For example, you might have kept your pasta to boil and are busy chopping vegetables. No matter how quick you are, there is a possibility that the water might boil over and land you in a mess.

The possibility is always higher while cooking pasta as the starch molecules seeps into the water, making the bubbles extra sturdy. These bubbles form a thick layer of foam across the surface of the utensil. Therefore, the steam is prevented from escaping and it leads to a small eruption of water.

A hack for avoiding this situation is to balance a wooden spoon on top of the pot. It is said that the thin handle of the wooden spoon prevents the froth from reaching the bay. It is no magic. In fact there is a little science behind this phenomenon. According to a report by Simplemost, the phenomenon is possible mainly because of two notable qualities of wood: it is extremely good at absorbing water; it is also an insulator, which is a bad conductor of heat.

When you place a wooden spoon on top of the pot, the rough surface of the spoon and hydrophilic nature of wood provide an ideal environment for small bubbles to form in boiling water. The wooden spoon, due to its rugged texture, has plenty of surface area to absorb these bubbles and prevent them from spilling on your stove.

As the wooden spoon absorbs these bubbles, it stretches them,forcing the bubbles to pull apart. In this scenario, the stretching force becomes greater than the force of surface tension, which holds the bubbles together. Hence, the bubble collapses and the foam settles.

Of all the materials, wooden-based utensils have the highest capacity to keep the boiling water at bay. This is because in comparison to steel or aluminium, wood is more absorbent and heat-resistant.

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first published:August 08, 2021, 17:53 IST