Hear us out on why cold tap water is better for pasta
We've all been there before. It's dinner time and you're frantically scrambling around trying to figure out what to throw together for dinner. Thank god for pasta and a jar of sauce! But before you turn on the tap water to steaming hot to get the pasta on your plate as soon as possible (we agree, it's so tempting), here's why you might want to start with cold water.
Hot = NOT for drinking and eating
While we may all be tempted to turn that faucet knob alllllll the way to the left, hot water makes it much easier for chemicals to leach into the water going into your pot. While there are numerous chemicals that are present in our water supply, some bad, others used for keeping our water source clean, a major harmful toxin of concern is lead. Lead dissolves more easily in hot water than in cold water. So, your safest bet is to use cold water for drinking and eating, especially if the pasta, oatmeal, formula, or water is for your kids.
Tell me about lead again?
Lead is commonly found in pipes, especially in old houses. If you live in a house built before 1986, or in an older community, there is a higher chance that you have lead pipes either directly in your house, or in the water piping system en-route to you (1). Scientists, doctors, pediatricians, and public health officials all agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure for children (2). Very low levels of lead exposure can negatively affect a child's mental and physical growth. Medium levels of lead exposure can begin to negatively affect physical and behavioral development. And at high levels of lead exposure, development of anemia, kidney damage, muscle weakness, brain damage and in some cases, death, can occur.
Even though children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults, lead exposure in adults is no good either. Lead exposure may cause weakness in the fingers, wrists, or ankles. Chronic low dose lead exposure causes an increase in blood pressure. In pregnant women, high levels of lead exposure can cause miscarriages, and for the men, can damage the organs responsible for sperm production (3).
Yikes! I hear you, but what can I do to keep my family safe from lead?
Bottom line, by avoiding the use of hot tap water when cooking, you can prevent lead from getting into your water, and therefore your food. So the next time you cook food that absorbs a lot of water, like pasta, rice, beans, or oatmeal, start with cold water. And if you want a hot beverage, like tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, stick with cold water to start no matter what you are using to heat it up. This is especially true for parents who use tap water to mix up formula, since babies are especially vulnerable lead and often don't eat anything else. If you're in a time crunch, here are some helpful hacks that will save you time and keep your meals and drinks lead-free.
- Use an electric tea kettle to make water boil faster and then add it into your pot when making grains or beans.
- Microwave water in a large ceramic or glass container before adding it into your pot.
- Invest in a hot water boiler and dispenser, that way you'll always have hot water handy for tea, pasta or oatmeal (my mom has one and swears that's how she raised the three of us).
Even if the thought of using cold water might give you cold feet, it's another easy thing you can do to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe.