Do you know why people put a wooden spoon on top of a boiling pot?

A spoon resting upon a boiling pot.

Most of us think we know our way around the kitchen, but occasionally we discover something new that amazes us. In fact, if we start using those cooking suggestions for ourselves, we might start to wonder how we got along without them for so long.

One of these exciting activities is placing a wooden spoon over a kettle of boiling water. It’s not only a convenient place to rest the spoon, but it also keeps the water from overflowing the saucepan. How often do you find yourself making pasta when you quickly step away from the heat and come back to the sound of water hitting something below? You won’t have to worry about it any longer.

Understanding why a wooden spoon stops the liquid in a pot from heating is different from just being aware that it does. There have been many hypotheses over the years, however it is always preferable to involve scientists when attempting to ascertain the veracity of something requiring science.

According to Michelle Dickinson, the author of “The Kitchen Science Cookbook,” wood acts as insulation and won’t conduct heat or electricity. When set on top of boiling water, a wooden spoon rests colder than the saucepan it is in.

Boiling spaghetti and other similar starchy foods may on occasion increase the likelihood that the water will boil over. When starch is added, the water thickens, which causes the bubbles to expand and bubble over more frequently. The exterior of every bubble is held together by a combination, however in the case of spaghetti bubbles, starch binds the surface together.

“If the bubbles reach the cooler and dryer wood, these molecules to break their chain and the bubble explodes, releasing the vapor from within the bubble,” says Dickinson of Simplemost.

The cycle will resume as the water warms up once more, but the spoon will keep the bubbles from popping.

The texture of the spoon is also a factor, according to Jed Macosko, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Wake Forest University and the director of Academic Influence. The fact that the spoon is constructed of water-loving wood and has a rough surface prevents the bubbles from exploding quickly.

Without the spoon, “large bubbles of steam may emerge in unpredictable bursts, showering hot air all over the stovetop,” Macosko advises.

Doctoral candidate in computational chemistry Scott Beaver asserts:

This considerably increases the possibility that bubbles may start soaking and seeping into the wood. This results in a wider bubble. The strength required to stretch the bubble apart outweighs the retaining power of the surface tension. The bubble then deflates as a result.

Even if it’s not crucial how this kitchen trick functions, the fact that it does might nevertheless help you save time and hassle.