Is It Dangerous To Cook With Hot Tap Water Instead Of Cold?

Using hot tap water to boil pasta (where timing matters) or whip up a hot soup may sound like a smart hack: It starts off closer to the boiling point and seems to save you time. But, according to the EPA, it's a bad idea. Hot tap water should never be used for cooking, drinking, or making baby formula. While tap water in the U.S. is generally safe enough to drink, hot water is too effective at dissolving lead and, as such, may contain more of this dangerous metal than cold water. If you're hoping that boiling could fix this, think again — it could concentrate the lead even more.

So, where's all this lead coming from? The usual suspects include your faucets, pipes, and other plumbing parts. A lot of these are made of brass, which often has lead mixed in to make it easier to cut and give it a shiny finish. Since 2011, a plumbing part can be labeled "lead-free" if it contains less than 0.25% lead. Before that, lead was allowed at a concentration of 8%. You might feel slightly more reassured if your faucet fixture is newer (less than 13 years old), but remember, no amount of lead in water can be considered safe.

Safer ways to heat up water for cooking

It's natural to think of an under-sink water filter as a fix; unfortunately, most of these filters are not designed for use with hot water. Your best bet is still to start with cold water, which not only takes longer to dissolve heavy metals but also spends less time in the pipes and is, thus, less likely to pick up the contaminants.

The traditional way is to heat water in a pot or kettle over the stovetop. For a faster method, use an electric kettle. These handy appliances bring cold water to a rolling boil in just minutes; much quicker than the stovetop. Many kettles offer temperature settings, allowing you to pick the exact heat level you need for each recipe. Plus, most kettles automatically shut off when reaching a boil or the set temperature, so there's no need to hover and wait. The safety and peace of mind an electric kettle brings can very well be worth the investment.