It's very common to boil something (e.g. pasta) and then after few minutes you hear the hissing sound of water boiling over and your whole kitchen is a mess.

How do you stop the water from boiling over?

6 Answers 6


Most of the time when you need boiling water you don't need to keep it at a rolling boil. I've found that the best way to keep things from boiling over is to reduce the heat slightly, so while the water is still boiling it's not quite so vigorous.

That, or you can try using a larger pot when cooking.

  • 1
    Sometimes, you can turn the heat all the way down and put on a lid, saving on your gas bill as well. However, that can still overboil; sometimes you can even turn the heat off with a lid on and you'll get the same results (tested with instant ramen noodles and mac'n'cheese)
    – Justin
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 6:07

Here is a method that involves butter that may help the problem:

Rub a bit of butter around the top of the pot. You will need about 1/2 tsp, more shouldn't hurt the food. Some people add it directly into the pot, but it may work either way.

Additional Info

Thrifty Fun

How do I stop my pans boiling over?- In this answer it says you can use oleo, butter, or crisco. And to have at least a 1-2 inch ring.

The differences shouldn't matter as long as you add at least 1/2 inch.

  • 2
    Don't forget to explain this/expand this. As it is, this is a bit too short of an answer, but if it works, it sort of makes sense too; the butter could be melting, adding oil/fat that changes the surface tension of the water so that the bubbles can't hold their shape. But that's just a random hypothesis.
    – Justin
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 8:27
  • 1
    @Quincunx Explanations are not required, but certainly enhance answers a great amount. Josh, do you mind adding some explanation for your answer?
    – Shokhet
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 4:50
  • Hello Josh! Because of the length of your post and content, it was downvoted and it was even nominated for deletion. So I edited it to add more detail, if you don't like the edits just rollback and add your own. I hope to see you around sometimes :)
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 17:42
  • If you are having trouble writing a post consult the Help Center or ask in Meta for more help. I hope this helps you.
    – Pobrecita
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 17:55

The most common life hack is to put a wooden spoon across a boiling pot of water to keep it from boiling over. Set it and forget it!

Put a wooden spoon across a boiling pot of water to keep it from boiling over

Few tips:

  • it depends what are you boiling (e.g. pasta, soup) as it won't work with only plain water pot,
  • it really depends on the spoon and how much wood surface area you'll give to the water (the more, the better),
  • it can make a difference to put the spoon on it earlier,
  • if you deliberately turn the heat all the way up just to test it, a single spoon could not help here.

Why does it work?

The theory behind how does it works is that the wooden spoon breaks a surface tension of the bubbles and it's also not a very good conductor of heat, so it helps to cool the bubbles off when they reach the surface.

In other words, when the foam bubbles up it will eventually meet the spoon. The foam is thermodynamically unstable, which means when the bubbles reach the spoon they will burst, breaking the layer of foam and sending all of the bubbles collapsing down again. [gizmodo]

Alternatively just use the bigger pot with higher walls to climb.

Here are few videos demonstrating a wooden spoon method:

  • 2
    +1 Interesting, even though I don't see how the foam wouldn't just move around the spoon. It's not as if the whole mass of foam has some sort of "memory" of hitting a spoon.
    – l0b0
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 11:45
  • 1
    youtu.be/3fQlYYZQBM4?t=2m33s Disproved by Mental Floss
    – apaul
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 14:22
  • Mental Floss fail it, because they put the spoon on at the last second. On the same video you've plenty of comments from people to who this worked, e.g.: "Every time I boil water in a pot I put the wooden spoon over it. It works for me every single time." (KatherineJane001). It really depends on the spoon and how much wood surface area you'll give to the water (the more, the better). The most important is to put the spoon on it earlier.
    – kenorb
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 16:23
  • 2
    Ive tried this several times with several different spoons and its never worked.
    – Humdinger
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 17:12

I agree with not keeping the water at a rolling boil, if it doesn't need to be, and if you get into a really big pinch, and the recipe can take it, throw in some salt. The salt increases the water's boiling point and will stop the water from boiling.


At the moment that it starts to boil over, lift it from the heat. This will usually stop the boilover. If possible, turn the heat down before you set it back on the heat again.

If simply lifting it doesn't work, try blowing on it as you would blow on a hot cup of coffee. This stops the boilover (and will keep it stopped as long as you blow) giving you time to move the pot, turn the heat down, or otherwise deal with the issue. You may think that it won't work but next time you face a boiling-over pot, try it!


I keep a wooden clothespin in the kitchen. When I make pasta or rice, I clip the clothespin to the lid, creating a small gap between the lid and pan. With the lid closed, the pan would boil over. With the pin in place, the boilover doesn't occur (at the same heat setting).

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