Has this ever happened to you? You boil some water in your electric kettle for a cup of tea... and then a work email comes in, or the show you were watching gets super good, or a friend stops to visit, and all of a sudden it's an hour later and your water's back to being cold again. So, what do you do? Well, like most of us (including myself until recently), you probably figure let's just turn the kettle on again and reboil the water, right?
But what really happens when you reboil water?
Reboiling water creates a risk on a chemical level. This is the kind of thing that, sadly, few of us were ever warned about in chemistry class, though. Boiling water once is good as it kills off bacteria and boils out volatile compounds, which is why everyone knows to boil unsafe water to make it safe to drink.
Unfortunately, if you continue to boil water for too long, or reboil it, you're actually starting to create dangerous concentrations of the compounds/chemicals that are in tap water. These chemicals include arsenic, nitrates, and fluoride.
According to World Health Organization, drinking water presents one of the most significant threats to the public of harmful arsenic exposure. This can lead to a number of conditions such as gastrointestinal symptoms, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Nitrates occur naturally in many natural substances, including water. They're also used to preserve/cure foods like deli meats. In high concentrations, and in particular when they're heated excessively, nitrates convert into nitrosamines, which are known to cause cancer. Nitrates have also been linked to diseases like non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, and numerous cancers.
There's been a lot of back-and-forth about fluoride in water. While there is data to suggest that fluoride is good for health in moderate amounts, if you boil water for too long, you create dangerously high levels of it in your water. A study by Harvard University found links between fluoride in drinking water and long-term neurological and cognitive decline in children.
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