Boiling is the rapid vaporization of a liquid, which occurs when a liquid is heated to its boiling point, the temperature at which the vapour pressure of the liquid is equal to the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding atmosphere. There are two main types of boiling: nucleate boiling where small bubbles of vapour form at discrete points, and critical heat flux boiling where the boiling surface is heated above a certain critical temperature and a film of vapor forms on the surface. Transition boiling is an intermediate, unstable form of boiling with elements of both types. The boiling point of water is 100 °C or 212 °F but is lower with the decreased atmospheric pressure found at higher altitudes.
Boiling water is used as a method of making it potable by killing Microorganism and viruses that may be present. The sensitivity of different micro-organisms to heat varies, but if water is held at for one minute, most micro-organisms and viruses are inactivated. Ten minutes at a temperature of 70 °C (158 °F) is also sufficient for most bacteria.
Boiling water is also used in several cooking methods including boiling, steaming, and poaching.
An irregular surface of the boiling vessel (i.e., increased surface roughness) or additives to the fluid (i.e., surfactants and/or nanoparticles) facilitate nucleate boiling over a broader temperature range,Robert A Taylor, Patrick E Phelan, Todd Otanicar, Ronald J Adrian, Ravi S Prasher, Vapor generation in a nanoparticle liquid suspension using a focused, continuous laser, Applied Physics Letters, Volume:95 , Issue: 16, 2009 while an exceptionally smooth surface, such as plastic, lends itself to superheating. Under these conditions, a heated liquid may show boiling delay and the temperature may go somewhat above the boiling point without boiling.
The formation of Liquid bubble in a heated liquid is a complex physical process which often involves cavitation and acoustic effects, such as the broad-spectrum hiss one hears in a kettle not yet heated to the point where bubbles boil to the surface.
The elimination of micro-organisms by boiling follows first-order kinetics—at high temperatures, it is achieved in less time and at lower temperatures, in more time. The heat sensitivity of micro-organisms varies, at , Giardia species (causes Giardiasis) can take ten minutes for complete inactivation, most intestine affecting microbes and Escherichia coli (gastroenteritis) take less than a minute; at boiling point, Vibrio cholerae (cholera) takes ten seconds and hepatitis A virus (causes the symptom of jaundice), one minute. Boiling does not ensure the elimination of all micro-organisms; the bacterial spores Clostridium can survive at but are not water-borne or intestine affecting. Thus for human health, complete sterilization of water is not required.
The traditional advice of boiling water for ten minutes is mainly for additional safety, since microbes start getting eliminated at temperatures greater than and bringing it to its boiling point is also a useful indication that can be seen without the help of a thermometer, and by this time, the water is disinfected. Though the boiling point decreases with increasing altitude, it is not enough to affect the disinfecting process.
The boiling point of water is typically considered to be , especially at sea level. Pressure and a change in the composition of the liquid may alter the boiling point of the liquid. High elevation cooking generally takes longer since boiling point is a function of atmospheric pressure. At an elevation of about , water boils at approximately . Depending on the type of food and the elevation, the boiling water may not be hot enough to cook the food properly. Similarly, increasing the pressure as in a pressure cooker raises the temperature of the contents above the open air boiling point.
Evaporation only happens on the surface while boiling happens throughout the liquid. When a liquid reaches its boiling point bubbles of gas form in it which rise into the surface and burst into the air. This process is called boiling. If the boiling liquid is heated more strongly the temperature does not rise but the liquid boils more quickly.
This distinction is exclusive to the liquid-to-gas transition; any transition directly from solid to gas is always referred to as sublimation regardless of whether it is at its boiling point or not.