the "Boil Water Then Drink It" cookware test

Hi ChowOnion. (HungryHound?) HungryOnion. I’m a lurker that’s learned much (and emptied his bank account much) thanks to everyone here and the site whose name shall not be spoken1.

I’m curious if anyone has tested their cookware in this matter: boil water (I used distilled to limit variables) in the vessel. Let it cool back to room temperature. Then drink it. See how it tastes.

I’ve swapped to a glass kettle (the Medelco Whistling Kettle) for boiling water for tea and instant coffee after noticing stainless steel saucepans (mine: Demeyere Atlantis) imparting an off-taste. I’ve tested my parents’ generic stainless steel tea kettle and noticed an even more pronounced metallic tang. (God bless their geriatric taste buds.) My coffee maker spits out acrid water. I should replace it.

I tested a Staub cocotte and the water didn’t pick up any noticeable flavor. So maybe enameled cast iron is preferable for stocks and soups? Has anyone gravitated this way?

And what about tinned versus silvered copper? I’ve not test-run either of those; I own only one stainless steel-lined Falk fry pan which does warp the taste of the water some.

I no longer own non-stick cookware but when I did I thought it made my food taste odd, or at least the textures became odd.

What else am I missing? What would aluminum do?

For many cooking situations the influence on flavor from the pan will probably be negligible and you’ll rather value thermal properties to get your raw ingredients to transmogrify into a palatable dish with the least fuss. The ease of cleanup can be a factor too. I’m just throwing this out there as a yet another consideration in our culinary endeavors. Thanks for your input in advance.

1: Chowhound.


I’ve seen people cite this test to spark conversations about seasoning versus cleaning carbon steel and cast iron pans.

Hi, Adam, and welcome.

Yours is an interesting question, one I’ve never systematically explored. Please carry it forward.

However, I’ll observe, along the lines of never stepping into the same river twice, we take our pans as we find them. Namely: used (with whatever cleaning residues, seasonings, ghostings, fresh passivation products, detritus, water minerals, etc. as we or the makers leave in them). So, are we ever really cooking on a truly clean nonreactive surface, and if we think we are, what does ‘clean’ mean?

Nevermind the added practical problem of assessing flavors after we put food or drink in the pans. Most are acidic to some degree, which can react with metals (and the aforementioned residues), loosen seasoning, etc.

Boiling itself alters the flavor of water. Boil some nearly dry in an “inert” pan and taste what’s left behind.

After all this, I encourage you to explore this deeper. If I were doing it, I might start with stews–there are people here who strongly feel that stews made in ECI are tastier that the same ones done in other cookware. Your post brings up one of the rare plausible theories as for why this might (or might not) be.


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You are spot on that merely boiling water alters the taste. There is a reason you (should) always start tea by emptying and filling the kettle.

Hi and welcome, great first post!

This can happen :slight_smile:

I have also tested and noticed a bit of an off-taste from water boiled in stainless before.

Inspired by your post though, today I very properly cleaned my Falk saucier with BKF followed by multiple times wash with a brand new sponge with dishwashing soap and a good rinse. No (possibly slightly dirty) towel dry to try and leave as close to absolutely clean pan as I could. After this I pitted it against a Le Creuset enamelled saucepan, also properly washed, but with just soap. Brought to boil and simmered a couple minutes, let cool mostly in the pans, but for the last moments in glasses. Honestly I could not tell any difference in taste once the water had cooled down to about room temp.

Prior today, I did the test also without properly cleaning the Falk, just with regular quick soap wash like normally, to repeat what I had done in past. So it had whatever slight remains to ghost there might have been. I seemingly could tell the water from LC was a bit fresher in that scenario, there seemed to be a difference.

An interesting experiment could be to pour half a kilo of tomato sauce from the same batch after stirring to each and cook for an hour or two without spices. Then perhaps blindfolded tasting. Stainless does leach a tiny bit of metals to acidics, but it’s very little and I haven’t tasted it in my foods. I have a feeling I would not be able to taste a difference with in this tomato sauce test.


You might find the beginning of this clip interesting, something about the “smell” of metals.:

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Probably better to use gallons of bottled spring water for this experiment rather than tap water. Wash and rinse with the latter, then do a final rinse with bottled water. That minimizes the potential factor of varying taste/content in tap water.

Or heat your water in a glass vessel in your microwave.

I should add from a different angle. When discussing tea brewing, many Chinese and Japanese tea specifically prize the taste-altering properties of clay teapots. Testubin teapots are highly respected

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Get some vintage enameled steel cookware, or new. Enameling doesn’t have to imply enamel over cast iron. Always be mindful of chips. When you see one, it went somewhere. In the food?

Nothing is more inert as a cooking surface than porcelain enamel.

I still rely on SS though.

I’m infamous for offering up the “boiled water” test for jokers who cook on bare cast iron, which is the epitome of gross.

I think it’s a waste of water.