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You are watching: Why does water not boil at 100 degrees celsius

It appears like among those straightforward science facts: Water boils in ~ 212 levels Fahrenheit (100 levels Celsius), right? Well, no always. It depends on whereby you’re doing the boiling.

In fact, water will boil at about 202 levels in Denver, as result of the lower air pressure at together high elevations. In Pew research Center’s recent survey on scientific research knowledge, only 34% of americans knew that water boils at a lower temperature in the Mile High City than in Los Angeles, i m sorry is close come sea level. This to be the inquiry in our quiz that the fewest world answered correctly: 26% said they believed water would certainly boil in ~ a higher temperature in Denver, while 39% said it would boil in ~ the same temperature in both places.

The boiling allude of water, or any liquid, different according come the neighboring atmospheric pressure. A fluid boils, or begins turning to vapor, when its internal vapor pressure equates to the atmospheric pressure. For instance, when you warm your tea kettle top top a stovetop, you’re creating more water vapor; when the water’s vapor pressure rises enough to exceed the neighboring air pressure, bubbles start to type and the water boils.

But press drops together you obtain elevation – say, by driving native Los Angeles to Denver – since there space fewer waiting molecules pressing on you. In Denver, the atmospheric press is only around 12 pounds per square inch, compared with 14.7 pounds per square customs in Los Angeles. With that much much less pressure, you don’t require to apply as much heat to push vapor pressure beyond the bordering atmospheric pressure – in various other words, water boils in ~ a lower temperature. Placing a liquid in a partial vacuum likewise will lower its boil point. The reason is the same: by removing few of the air surrounding the liquid, you’re lowering the atmospheric push on it.

In La Rinconada, a mining city in the Peruvian Andes that, at an ext than 16,700 feet, is the highest possible permanently lived in town in the world, water will boil at around 181 degrees. Were you of a mind to brew yourself a nice cup of tea in ~ the height of mountain Everest (29,029 feet), you’d only have actually to carry your water up to about 162 degrees for it come boil. At an additional extreme, in Death Valley, Calif. – the lowest allude in the U.S., at 282 feet below sea level – water boils in ~ slightly above 212 degrees.

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The reduced atmospheric pressure at high elevations affect cooking and baking, too, which is why countless recipes and mixes come through special “high altitude” directions. Cooking generally takes longer at elevations over 3,000 feet or so, and foods have tendency to dry the end faster. Doughs will certainly rise much faster (because gases broaden more) and also liquids in batters evaporate faster.