Technically, it’s science.
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People might say that a watched pot never boils, but we'd argue that an unwatched pot is what you really need to pay attention to. Because it has a tendency to boil over. One second you're innocently washing dishes, and the next second you're running over to a steaming stovetop. Even if you manage to sprint across the kitchen in time, the unwatched pot doesn't necessarily calm down right away, and you're left trying to hastily scoop out boiling water before it overflows.

Boiling Water
Credit: Getty Images/skaman306

If that scene sounds familiar, it might be time to learn the old kitchen trick that can be used to quickly stop boiling water from overflowing on the stovetop. It's simple, but can help postpone a surprise stovetop mess in the heat of the moment. All you need is your trusty wooden mixing spoon. If you lay a wooden spoon across the top of the pot of boiling water, the water will not boil over. It might seem silly, but we don't make the rules. Simply place the spoon lengthwise (laying down) across the diameter of the open pot, and it'll repel the bubbles, at least long enough to turn down the heat — and some claim that it even works way longer.

Why does this happen? The answer is two-fold. Firstly, the wood acts as a sort of water repellant on the already-unstable bubbles. As a result, it causes them to destabilize and stop rising. Secondly, the spoon will be a cooler temperature than the water and bubbles, so when the bubbles meet the spoon, the steam condenses back into water. In other words, the bubbles are busted.

While you can find many varying opinions online and in comment sections, the largest consensus agrees that this method does actually do what it claims, at least to a degree or barring any setbacks (faulty spoon or incredibly high heat). Some testers even note that it kept bubbles at bay for minutes on end, even when keeping the pot on high heat.

Just like how mayonnaise is the only thing needed on a tomato sandwich, sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one. Just make sure to keep your old-school wooden spoon beside the stovetop, and you'll be able to jump into action whenever your pasta, eggs, potatoes, or butter beans start to boil over. In need of a new wooden spoon? This $7 Amazon best-seller more than does the job. Per your new kitchen trick, you'll be sure to use it for more than just mixing.