How Long to Boil Water in Microwave – The Actual Time it Takes

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There are lots of ways in which you can heat up water. As it is for most things, the microwave could be considered the most efficient way to boil water! Of course, it depends on the volume of water you wish to boil. But keep reading to figure out exactly how long it should take you to boil water in the microwave!

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Table of Contents

woman watching microwave

How Long Does it Actually take Water to Boil in the Microwave?

The time it takes for your water to boil in the microwave will vary depending on the vessel you use. The vessel itself will heat up and take some of the heat energy. This of course, will take a bit longer if the water is in a ceramic container, because ceramic is a good insulator – it will take longer to heat up and slower to cool down.

If you are boiling water in the microwave, then any container other than a microwaveable cup is highly inconvenient. Because ceramic is slow to heat up, it takes the process much longer, and can be heavy to carry around. Plastic bowls struggle in holding its shape and can end up a little warped, which could lead to accidents.

So, be particularly careful when transporting the vessel if using one of these containers!

  • 600W: 4 minutes
  • 700W: 3 minutes
  • 800W: 2.5 minutes
  • 1,000W: 2 minutes
  • 1,200W: 1.5 minutes

If you don’t know what the wattage of your microwave is, it will usually say on it, or you can check the instruction manual. If you are not too sure, you could always test out how long it takes to boil one cup of water, which you will be able to use as a reference going forward.

Is It Safe to Boil Water in the Microwave?

Yes, it is! Water can be boiled in many different ways – induction hob, electric stove, kettle, etc.

If you are looking to boil only a small quantity of water, using the microwave may in fact be the fastest way to boil your water! The microwave can be a super-efficient way to boil, because you don’t need to clean up as many utensils and will only really need one dish-ware item.

There is also no current research that indicates any negative health effects. Microwaves are great ways of heating up a vast range of foods and if you don’t have one. It would be a great investment into a fast way of cooking foods!

Below is a link to the most highly rated model, which is perfect for a midrange budget.

BLACK+DECKER EM720CB7 Digital Microwave Oven with Turntable Push-Button Door, Child Safety Lock, 700W, Stainless Steel, 0.7 Cu.ft
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How Do I Safely Boil Water in The Microwave?

Boiling water in the microwave is a super simple process. But there a few important steps you should take and factors that should be considered when boiling water in your microwave appliance.

Regardless of what the wattage your microwave can go to, they have the ability to make things very hot, and could pose a risk of burning or causing fore damage.

Use a Microwave Safe Container

This is a super important factor that should be considered.

If you use a container that is microwave unsafe, it may melt or burn. You should also think about the purpose of what you are using the container for. So the container must be capable of withstanding boiling water. If you are trying to sterilize the water, you will need to boil the water in the microwave for at least one minute. Therefore, the container must be capable of withstanding these temperatures.

Containers considered microwave safe

Below is a list of containers and containers which are considered to be microwave safe.

It is best to check on the exact vessel you are using before boiling water in it in the microwave.

  • Ceramic or glass dishes
  • Wax or parchment paper
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Paper plates
  • Dishes with a microwave-safe mark

If your vessel does not have a microwave-safe mark on it and is not one of the above materials, it probably is not microwave-safe. If it is plastic, be aware it is likely that this could melt, particularly when boiling water in it.

Materials That are Not Microwave Safe

The following is a list of materials that should not be put in the microwave.

  • Aluminum foil – Any metal should be kept well clear from the microwave as these are highly susceptible to causing sparks and fires.
  • Dishware with metallic paint – Any sort of metal/metallic finish on dishware is likely to cause sparks in the microwave and should be kept clear of the microwave.
  • Plastic – Again, plastic can be deemed microwave safe. But they are not the best for microwave use. Chemicals from the plastic can melt into the water or if you are cooking food in them. It may be safe for heating foods to lower temperatures. But if you are boiling, this will likely melt the plastic.
  • Sealed containers – Build up of steam inside the container can cause high pressure to burst the lid off the container. This can cause potential damage, and a big mess to clean up.
  • Styrofoam – Be wary of putting styrofoam in the microwave. Only use it in the microwave if it is deemed microwave safe. Like plastic, styrofoam can leak into the water or food that your cooking. Therefore, it can leave lots of chemicals in your foods.
  • Plastic wrap – It is best to check if this is microwave safe before using it. Personally, I try to keep it clear from the microwave. But if you are using it in the microwave, be sure to poke holes in it. This way, the build up of pressure inside doesn’t cause it to burn and create a mess.
microwave for boiling water

Put Your Water in the Container

Once you have decided on a vessel that is safe to use, it is not time to put your water into the container.

There are a few factors that should be considered when you are filling the container.

  • Do not fill to the brim – As it will with every other method of boiling, water will bubble when it boils. If the container is filled to the brim, then this will cause spills of the hot liquid. Save yourself the hassle of the clean up and only fill three quarters full
  • Water level may decrease – When water boils, it emits steam, therefore some of the water has evaporated. If you are leaving the water in the microwave for a few minutes to sterilize it, you may notice the water level will decrease. Be aware that leaving the water in the microwave for too long may cause superheating (water temperature rises above its boiling point which could cause an explosion).
  • Do not seal the container – As I’ve previously mentioned, make sure that you don’t seal the container. This will cause some of the steam to get trapped. This could cause an explosion and damage your microwave.

Put the Container in the Microwave and Cook

Now, you just need to pop your container in the microwave and let it do its magic!

For most microwaves, it will probably take between 1-3 minutes to boil your water. You’ll find the guidelines for the time it takes for different types of microwaves to boil one cup of water in this post.

How to Safely Remove the Container from the Microwave?

It is important that you consider safely removing the container from the microwave. While the container is microwave safe, it will be very hot because of the boiling water. You don’t want to burn yourself!

If you are wanting to use the water while it is still boiling, you will need to remove the water from the microwave with an oven mitt or cloth towel to allow safe removal.

When carrying the container, make sure to keep it away from your face and skin. This is because the steam from the water will be very hot. There may be a chance that the water could explode from superheating. So the most important thing to do is protect your body when removing stuff from the microwave.

Why Should You Boil in a Microwave?

Even though there are associated risks to boiling water in the microwave, there are multiple practical benefits, too. Not only will you be saving time, but there are also some slight health benefits to doing so.

Speed

Using your microwave to boil water is actually a good time saver when compared to boiling water on the stove. It could arguably be faster than a kettle depending on the volume of water you want to boil.

You could have a cup of water boiled in the microwave in as quick as a minute and a half. Compared to that of the stove, which will take you 10 to 15 minutes.

Using the microwave is a great way to boil water if you are short on time. Or if you just don’t have the patience!

Sterilization

If you are looking to sterilize your water, then the microwave is a great way in efficiently doing so.

By microwaving the water, you are ensuring that your water is purified for whatever reason you may be using it for.

To ensure that the water is sterilized, it will require a longer heating time than just bringing it to a boil. The water will need to be put at a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. The longer that you leave the water boiling, the more of a chance you give the temperature to kill any microorganisms that could be present in the water.

If you are in a new place or just unsure of the tap water where you are staying, this is a super handy trick. You’ll ensure you are not drinking anything that you shouldn’t be!

Energy

While the amount of energy used comparing to a kettle might be quite similar, boiling your water in the microwave will use significantly less energy than if you were to boil your water on the stove.

Microwaves have the ability to save a significantly less amount of energy compared to conventional ovens and gas-powered appliances.

In fact, gas stoves use approximately 40% more energy than a microwave. If you are boiling water on the stove every day, you could save yourself a significant amount of energy if you switched over to using the microwave.

What is Superheating?

This is a problem that can arise specifically when boiling water in the microwave. It will not happen if you’re heating water in any other way.

This occurs when water is brought to a temperature above its boiling point. This can be particularly dangerous as it occurs when water is microwaved and the bubbles cannot form like they would in boiling because the water is heated up so quickly. This leads to an explosion when the water is stirred.

If you remove the water from the microwave without letting the water have enough time to bubble, this could cause superheating. The best way to avoid this is by allowing the water to bubble in the microwave before removing it.

Sometimes this occurs because bubbles do not form because they have nothing to cling to. This is why it is recommended to put a microwave-safe item into the water while boiling to help the bubbles to form. If you can’t find one, you could always use a dish that has some imperfections it it or is textured in some way. This will help to allow bubbles to form.

Another helpful trick is to tap the container with a long spoon one the microwaving has finished. The tapping will help to trigger any water movement in a case where superheating has occurred.

FAQs

How Long Does it Take Water To Boil in The Microwave?

To boil a cup of water in the microwave, you’ll need between 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. If you have a lower power microwave like 600 W, then you may need to leave it in for 4 minutes

Is it Safe to Boil Water in the Microwave!

Though you may risk scalding yourself should you take the container out when it’s too hot, there are no reported health risks to using microwaves to boil.

boiling water

Safe and Quick!

By now you should be equipped with all the knowledge on how to safely and quickly boil water.

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By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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