Does It Make A Difference Boiling Water on the Stove or Microwave?

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boiling water on a stove

Should I Boil Water on the Stove or in the Microwave?

Regarding boiling water– Is it true that water heated to boiling in a microwave cools faster than the water boiled on the stove? It seems that I barely get the milk and teabag in my cup before the tea is lukewarm. I usually just heat the water in the microwave in the same cup I will be using. Would it stay hotter if I did it in a saucepan on the stove? A friend suggested I also heat the milk. That seemed like a good idea.



Jill: It does make a difference. It is better to heat on the stove or in an electric tea kettle. When water is boiled on the stove the water boils evenly and all of it boils. In the microwave the water only boils where the microwaves have hit it so you can have cold spots throughout the water. These hot and cold spots are also what causes the water to bubble up and foam over sometimes when you add your instant coffee.

Yes you do need to heat the milk because it will cause the tea to cool down quickly. You might try boiling your water on the stove, making your tea, adding the milk and then placing it all in the microwave for about 10 seconds or so to warm it up, milk and all.

Here are some other things I found that help to keep my tea or coffee really hot. I have a mug with a lid and I place the lid on it while it is steeping. I was so surprised how much hotter my coffee and tea was. You could use a small saucer or plate in place of the lid. Using a tea cozy on a mug helps too.

Because my house is cold, especially in the winter, my mugs are cold and I lose a lot of heat into the cold mug. I place just a little water in my mug and pour some of the boiling water into it for just a couple of seconds to heat the mug. Then I dump that out and make the tea with boiling water in a warmed mug.

This may seem like a lot of work for a cup of tea or coffee but you don’t have to do all of these suggestions all and they go faster and easier than you might think once you start doing them.

Using an electric tea kettle to boil water is much faster, boils evenly and saves on energy so it is the best way to go, but before you think you have to go out and buy a new expense electric kettle, the savings is so small it isn’t worth buying something new. Boiling the water in a small pot on the stove works just fine.


Photo By: Scott Akerman


  1. Kim says

    Another problem with boiling water in the microwave, flash over. If areas are super heated dropping the tea bag in can cause to the water to boil over. People have been seriously injured by this.

  2. Bea says

    I don’t have a microwave, but at work I tryed a couple of times to boil water in a mug for tea or coffee and it tasted funny. Like chemicals were in it. I think some of the glaze may have leached into the water, so I don’t do that anymore. I think stoves and ovens are much better in many ways, so I like them. It really doesn’t take that much longer anyway.

  3. MPbusyB says

    In the winter time, I keep my tea hot longer by using a good quality stainless steel travel mug/thermos for drinking, even if just around the house. I get so spoiled by having hot tea, that when I go to a regular mug, I get a little miffed at how quickly it cools. The travel thermos also works great for keeping my iced tea cold in during warm weather.

  4. Kris says

    I do something similar to MPbusyB–I use a carafe (JUST for hot water–I don’t want my tea to taste like coffee), boil a pot of water in the morning, and I can still have hot tea by suppertime if I want it. I also use it to make hot chocolate for the kids in the winter or those Maxwell House International Cafe drinks. My husband has a coffee carafe and he does the same thing with his pot of coffee on the weekend when he is home. At the price of coffee, who needs waste??

  5. Sandi P says

    I use a heat proof glass 2 cup measuring cup to heat water for tea in the microwave. That avoids the problems of uneven heating and flash over. Also, since a few of my favourite cups and mugs have gold paint on them, they won’t work in the microwave anyway. When any leftover water in the measuring cup cools completely, I use it to water my houseplants since the heat and air cooling has destroyed the chlorine in the water. I have a small plastic pitcher that didn’t work for making drinks that I use to collect these little dribbles of water for watering houseplants.

  6. Maggie says

    I love the idea of using a thermos for the hot water. Now, I have to find a thermos. The only ones I have are from children’s lunchboxes that I use for homemade soup to bring to work. Nowhere near large enough for a mug of hot water. Guess I’ll check the 5 & Dime store.

  7. Pat Stewart says

    Boiling water in the microwave is OK. It works best if you have a microwave with a turntable. Boiling water on the stove is better because it does heat more thoroughly and you can avoid flashover. Using an electric kettle is best because it heats quickly and thoroughly. You can get them at WalMart, Kmart, Target for less than $20 and they last a long time. While your kettle is heating, put your cup under the hot water tap. By the time the water there is hot, your cup will be well warmed. Use an insulated mug or a travel mug. It will keep the drink hotter longer.

  8. Susan says

    I’ve tried using a carafe instead of a thermos, only because the carafe looks a lot better than our stainless steel thermos, but it didn’t keep my coffee as warm, so I switched back. It also helps to keep it on a sunny windowsill if that’s possible.

    • says

      One thing I learned in using a thermos or carafe is that I fill it with boiling water for a minute before putting anything in it. It seems to keep things hot quite a bit longer. I think some times the heat lost into the sides of the thermos where if they are already hot you don’t have quite the heat lose. Hope this helps.

  9. rose says

    i boil the water on the stove .. i used to microwave the water but the reverted back to using a pot on the stove .. we lost our last microwave when i went back to using the pot on the stove .. and since getting the new microwave, i have continued to use the stove …
    our house is really not heated either during the winter months (here in florida it can get very cold at times), and llike jill, my cup gets cold too .. so i will run the cup under the hot water for a bit to warm it up and then add the boiling water for my tea or hot cocoa .. it does help ..

  10. Maggie says

    An interesting note. Everyday here at work, I buy a container of iced tea. I bring my own cup to the cafe and sometimes before I am back at my desk, the ice is melted. Yesterday, I found out why. I usually wash my cup out with hot water before I go to get the tea. Today, I just rinsed with cold water. Guess what, I still have ice in my cup 3 hours later. Even though the cup is plastic, the hot water heated the cup enough to melt the ice. Who would have thought? I know I should make ice in the fridge we have here at work but if I left an ice tray in there, someone else would use the ice. What I’ve been doing is put some ice in a tupperware container and using that for my afternoon beverage. I can refreeze water each evening for the next day’s use.

  11. Carie says

    I am really glad I saw this! I have been getting frustrated with my teawater from the microwave and my travel mugs not keeping my tea hot or in some cases even warm. I just bought an expensive travel mug and it still isn’t working. (I cringed spending so much but the cheap one didn’t work!) Now I know why it is not working so well and will change what I am doing and see! thanks.

  12. Magdalen says

    Don’t they have electric kettles in America? For tea the water has to be boiling. I think hot milk in tea would be horrible.

    • says

      We do have them here but most homes don’t use them. I think it is because up until resently we have been big coffee drinkers so we all have coffee pots plus the electric kettles here seem to break down easily so it is less expensive just to boil the water on the stove then to keep replacing an electric one. Wish they had one that wasn’t too expensive and worked because I would buy it for Tawra in a heart beat. She is the big tea drinker in our family and wants one so bad.

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