Things to Do While the Water is Boiling

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waiting for water to boil

You know the old saying, “A watched pot never boils,” so here are some things to do that might help it boil faster or at least to seem like it will.

Things to do while you’re waiting for water to boil:

  • Clean out a shelf or two in the fridge.
  • Wash some dishes.
  • Clean out a drawer.
  • Clean out a shelf.
  • Cut up some vegetables for another meal.
  • Plan another meal.
  • Wipe down the fronts of the dishwasher, fridge and stove.
  • Clean out the toaster.
  • Take out the trash.

Use the small minutes to get big things accomplished!



Photo By: Jamiesrabbits


  1. Jaime says

    Widdle your chore down, little by little. What a great concept. Use otherwise wasted time to cross off tiny jobs from your list of household chores. That way it frees up time to tackle bigger tasks later in the day.

  2. Bea says

    Time is such a funny thing. It does seem to go slow if you stand around and watch something, like waiting for water to boil, or coffee to brew, but it speeds up when you go do something else. I have gone outside for a few minutes to hang up a few clothes while waiting for water to boil, and it seems to boil much faster that way. Or go into another room and do a little picking up, and the time flies. I think it’s some kind of quantum theory thing. I’ve always felt that way. Strange the way that happens.

  3. says

    LOVE THIS!!!! It made me laugh too, because it really does “boil faster” if I use that time to do some other things. We have a gas stove, so boiling anything always seems to take a lot longer than previous

  4. Angelee Forsyth says

    My problem is I get distracted and forget the water is boiling so I have to make sure my little fast chore is done within view of the water or I sometimes come back to water that has boiled completely away lol.

    • Bonnie says

      Me, too, Angelee. My husband and I use timers (we have two in the kitchen, two in our home office). It helps for so many things: you can do anything for 15 minutes; 15 minutes for the throne to soak and so on.

  5. Maggie says

    About boiling water. Is it true that water heated to boiling in a microwave cools faster that 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.

    • says

      Maggie it does make a difference. It is better to heat on the stove or in an electric tea kettle. What happens is when boiled on the stove the water boils evenly and all of it boils. In the microwave it only boils where the rays 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 it quickly to cool down. You might try boiling your water on the stove, making your tea, add the milk then place it all in the microwave for about 10 secs. or so to warm the milk and all up.

      Some other things I found that help to keep my tea or coffee really hot is I have a mug with a lid and I place the lid on it while it is steeping. I was so surprised at 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 even on a mug helps too. I’m not sure how but it seems to make the heat go back into the mug.

      One last thing I always do because my house is cold my mugs are cold so I loose 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 make the tea.

      This may seem like a lot for a cup of tea or coffee but you don’t have to do them all and they go faster and quicker then you think once you start doing some of them.

    • Angie M. says

      Also, water heated in the microwave can ‘explode’. I received an e-mail a few years back warning of this but thought it was just an e-rumor. Wrong! LOL!

      Last year I was cleaning in my kitchen. I had a large 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup full of water heating in the microwave and was planning to make sweet tea. I had just walked past the microwave and into my laundry room for a minute and heard this loud noise…my microwave door flew open and water went everywhere. Luckily my kids were not in the kitchen and did not get burned. I just missed getting burned.

      I’m not a scientific minded person but from what I understand the microwave heats unevenly and like Jill wrote there can be hot spots and cold spots. Sometimes the hot spots become too hot. This somehow can cause the water to ‘explode’. This can also happen when a mug of hot water is taken from the microwave. Just a couple of weeks ago, my Grandma was burned when she took her mug out of the microwave and put it on the counter. She hadn’t even added her tea bag yet when the water kind of ‘exploded’ and bubbled up over the mug and burned her hand.

      Now I just stick with a tea kettle. LOL!

      • Cathy says

        The problem may not have been the water. Newer “Pyrex” has not been made the same way as older Pyrex. Something to do with the company being sold. If you have new Pyrex don’t treat it the same way as you may have in the past with heating.

  6. Maggie says

    Jill, I love the idea of warming the mug before you put the tea in it. I live in an 80 year old house, stucco, that always seems cold so of course, the mugs are cold. I’m going to try warming the mug and heating the water on the stove. Thanks for the info. Heating the milk will be good, too. Nothing is too much for a great, HOT cup of tea. My sister gave me a mug with a lid and I will also use that. Funny, I thought it was a trivet but I see now that it is a lid.

  7. Jan says

    love it! Came in handy while boiling eggs for sandwiches…cleanout the fridge and garbage went to the back. Thanks for all the little things…they add up for sure!

  8. Tawna says

    I put water on to boil while I am working on the rest of the meal. For instance heat pasta water while browning the ground meat for the sauce. Somewhere I read that was an old rule for setting up a camp. Get the fire started and put a pot of water on to heat before anything else. Not sure if it is true but it would make sense.

    • says

      I know many of our English readers like milk in their tea. Can anyone tell me how you do it? Do you pour the milk in the cup first or last after you put the tea in or doesn’t it make any difference?

  9. Maggie says

    I only drink my tea with milk and evaporated milk at that. My great-gram was from England and she taught me how she made her hot tea. First, use Twinings English Breakfast Tea(I use decaf store brand now), put the teabag in the cup, pour boiling water over the teabag and let steep until very dark. (I’d say make the tea as dark as you’d like)and then gradually add evaporated milk to the color you like. She would then add lots of sugar and pour it into the saucer and drink from the saucer so the tea would cool down faster. I like my tea very hot so I put the canned milk on the counter when I heat the water (on the stove vs the microwave keeps the water hotter longer (thanks Jill for this advice). By the time the water is hot, the milk is not ice-cold and blends better. Add sugar to your taste and drink. Dee-licious. Originally, my great-gran used real tea but as she got older said the teabags worked better for her and she was able to have “a cuppa” faster.

    • says

      My grandma use to pour her coffee into the saucer too. I haven’t heard of anyone doing that now a day. I loved it that you called it a cuppa Maggie. Even though we are in the States I have read so many books on England, Australia etc. that Tawra and I always say we are having a cuppa.

  10. Maggie says

    Of yes, I live in the state of Virginia, USA but learned how to make a great cup of tea from my English/Irish great-gram.

  11. Magdalen says

    I do remember somebody, about 60 years ago, drinking his tea from a saucer. Most people just use mugs these days. I think saucers must be almost extinct.
    Evaporated milk was poured over tinned peaches. It’s too much like sterilized milk in tea for me. I’m happy with semi-skimmed but can drink it black. I used to add two teaspoons (!) of sugar but I like it better without any now.
    I’ve read that you can make “school salad dressing” by adding a little vinegar to a tin of e.m. Must try it. That stuff was great.

  12. Magdalen says

    Putting cold milk in first, apparently, protected the working class pottery cup from cracking because of the thermal shock of the freshly boiled water. This wasn’t a problem with the tough, bone china cups used by the rich. They poured the tea in first.
    As to taste, I don’t think it makes any difference unless you have put in too much milk for the drinker’s liking. People get very decided about the strength of their tea.

  13. says

    The British always ‘warm the teapot’ before the brew tea by pouring boiling water in it before they actually pour the brewing water in because the porcelain is cold and will pull the heat out of the water and tea won’t steep correctly. Same goes for your porcelain cup that you pour your tea into. That’s why the tea stays hot longer. I have started using one of my spare car travel mugs that can be sealed. It keeps my tea, coffee, hot cocoa, etc., hot for a very long time. Handy if you happen to be reading e-mail, or reading a book (if anyone has time these days ;-)).

    • says

      This is so true Louise. If I boil water in my kettle for tea after I pour everything in the tea pot to steep I then pour the left over hot water from the kettle into my cup to warm it while my tea steeps. When I go on a trip or or use my travel mug I pour hot water in it to set while I am fixing my coffee or tea that way the mug is already hot and keeps it hotter longer for my car trip. I do this with thermos too even if I am going to put soup or something in it I heat them up first with some hot water.

  14. Terrye says

    Or, you could always just sit down in the kitchen if you have a TV in there and watch one of the morning shows and get interested in whatever is being presented and lose focus on the pot until acrid smoke begins to penetrate your nostrils and you realize you have burned up your best pot and almost burned down your kitchen in which case you have to start all over again. : o / Any ideas where I could get another pot cheap? (I’m just kidding, of course. I loved your ideas for making the time go faster especially the one about wiping down the fridge. I always forget to do that.}

    • says

      Had to chuckle : ) Terrye because it sounds like something Tawra or I would do. And we too have gone through many cheap pots. I think the worse was when Tawra boiled it so dry it welded the pan to the burner and couldn’t get them apart. In that case is was does anyone know where to get a cheap stove. : ) : )

  15. Mary Jane says

    Guess we were the poorer working class! We were taught to ALWAYS put a spoon in our cup before we poured in any hot liquid, and to pour that liquid over the bowl of the spoon, to protect the cup. It didn’t matter if you were having your drink black or not, the rule still applied. The things you learn on this site!

  16. Mary says

    I remember my Grandpa pouring his coffee in a saucer and then drinking it. Brings back great memories. Thanks.

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