Does anyone know a technique to prevent rising steam from burning you when you are dumping hot water into a sink?

For example, putting a strainer into the sink and pouring off water from spaghetti. The rising steam hits your hands and face. I have tried running cold water into the sink as I pour off the hot water. Helps some, but not enough.

  • 1
    You might try removing spaghetti from cooking water to the pan with your condiment, with tongs, while it is still on the stove. The cooking water can be splashed into the condiment pan as necessary to sauce the pasta. The cooking water can cool and be dumped later. No steam burns.
    – moscafj
    Nov 19, 2020 at 2:38
  • Have you tried experimenting with different pans? You may find one pours much more easily than another, and some shapes (e.g a deeper pan) will direct the steam in specific directions. Not much use if you only have one pan, I admit.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 20, 2020 at 13:39

3 Answers 3


You might like a pasta strainer that fits inside the pot. When the pasta is cooked you lift the strainer out of the pot and leave the pot of hot water sitting on the stove or in the sink. There's still some steam exposure but not nearly as much. You can re-use the hot water (for a second batch of pasta, soup, hot chocolate, etc), or let it sit in the pot until it's cool enough to pour out conveniently.

There are pot/strainer combo sets like the example below, or you can get a separate strainer insert that fits a pot you already have.

enter image description here

The small downside (aside from purchasing and storing an extra strainer) is that the strainer inserts tend not to have as tall a "foot" as a stand-alone pasta strainer. So you won't want to set the strainer down in the sink because the pasta might come in contact with the surface of the sink (which presumably is not clean enough to eat off of, unless your sink is cleaner or your "ick" threshold is higher than mine). The solution is to have a bowl sitting by ready to pour the pasta into it. Then you can put the strainer back in the pot.

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    – Bookaholic
    Nov 28, 2020 at 3:17

Do not hold your hands (and especially not your face) over the strainer. Hold the pot to one side, and don't turn it upside down, just tip it. If you need to look over to be sure the water is headed to the right place, pour slowly until you've established that, then move your head out of the steam and pour more quickly.

If you can't keep your hands away from the rising steam (because of the size of your pot or your sink or whatever) then wear oven mitts on your hands as you hold the pot to drain it.

  • 2
    This - and primarily pour slowly. The steam cools down to safe temperatures extremely fast, so you really need to dump all the water to produce enough steam all at once to make it burn before it gets to disperse. It won't be as nice regarding getting all the spaghetti out of the pot, all at once, but it's better to have to sweep some stuck spaghetti out of the pot with a spoon, than to get burns on your hands and face.
    – SF.
    Nov 19, 2020 at 12:13
  • 1
    If you get your oven mitts wet, replace them with silicone ones, those will not get hot when water or steam gets on them.
    – Willeke
    Nov 20, 2020 at 15:35

Blow gently to disperse the steam and hot mist as it rises; this normally brings in enough cooler air to keep your hands from being hurt. This should be combined with Kate Gregory's advice about pouring slowly and keeping your hands to the sides.

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