If we bring water to a boil and the water currently has a lot of bubbles at 100℃, what should I call the water in this state?

  • boiling water
  • boiled water

And if both are used in different contexts, what is the difference of their meanings?

  • 1
    Since it's still bubbling, use the continuous tense.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 6, 2017 at 14:04
  • 'at the boiling point'?
    – Mitch
    Mar 6, 2017 at 14:10
  • Is this in a cooking or scientific context?
    – user3169
    Mar 6, 2017 at 21:24

3 Answers 3


If it is still bubbling, and is still being heated, it is called 'boiling water'. (See this link)

If it has boiled, but now isn't, it is called 'boiled water'.

  • Yes "boiled water" could easily be in the form of blocks of ice. It just means that it once boiled.
    – WS2
    Mar 6, 2017 at 14:46
  • Boiled water could also be steam.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 6, 2017 at 17:03
  • 1
    @fixer1234 I don't think so. Boiling water makes steam - once it changes state, it's not the same thing.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 6, 2017 at 18:27
  • The only context I can think of where you would use the term "boiled water" would be to indicate that it has been sterilized and is safe to drink.
    – Stephen C
    Mar 7, 2017 at 4:58
  • @StephenC It could be a dangerous assumption. The fact that it was once boiled is no guarantee that it is safe to drink - it could have been subsequently contaminated!
    – WS2
    Mar 31, 2017 at 16:44

Boiling refers to water with large, fast bubbles. It doesn't have to be 100 degrees. The temperature can be different, but boiling means it has the bubbles now.

(Water with small, slow bubbles is simmering, not boiling. However, "simmering" is not used is a science context.")

Boiled means it was boiling in the past.

For example:

Cooking: "Wait until the water is boiling, then put in the pasta."

Science: "The test tubes were placed in boiling water."

Safety: "You shouldn't drink boiling water. You will be injured."

Camping: "You should drink only filtered or boiled water while camping to avoid getting sick."

** Note : **

This refers to boiling/boiled as adjectives. As a verb, we can say, "He boiled the water and then put the pasta in it," and it means the water had large, fast bubbles when the pasta was put in it.


We call this a rolling boil.
The linked page shows examples of various boiling states.

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