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When you turn a gas stove on high, you get a big flame with a wide diameter. When you lower the heat, the diameter of the flame shrinks. (I'm not sure this description makes sense. Does it?)

Does turning the heat up all the way move the hottest part of the burner to the outside of the pot? And further, does reducing the heat just enough to shrink the diameter of the flame cause the heat to be more evenly distributed across the bottom of the pan? I've noticed that, while trying to boil water, it tends to boil first around the edges of the pot and doesn't necessarily ever get to a big rolling boil like I've seen on an electric stove.

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    I was just doing some Googling to try to find out what the temperature distribution is in a natural-gas flame, and I see that Google has a logo up celebrating Robert Bunsen's 200th birthday! – Ward - Reinstate Monica Mar 31 '11 at 5:21
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Is your pot too small for the eye you are using? If the pot and the flame diameter are roughly the same size the effect you're describing probably happens.

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Your stove should have various sized 'rings', and as Philip pointed out depending on which one you use the flame on the outside of the pot effect will differ.

For my stove, the largest ring actually has two rings - so even if I turn the gas up, the inner ring will stay in the middle (the outer ring does tend to grow and sometimes go outside of the pot).

Given that design, I would imagine that yes, if you turn your gas up too much the flame will tend to heat up the outside of the pot.

On a side note, I believe that it is bad for the flames to be heating up the sides (especially the walls of the pot) so I guess it is best to use a pot that is larger than the ring itself, or turn the flame down so it is less than the diamater of the pot base.

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Here's a trick. Take a few staples, and place them between the burner base and the cap. That will lift that metal cap off the base just enough to reduce pressure and allow the flame to rise from the center. It likely won't impact combustion as the gas and O2 have mixed prior to the point in combustion. This will "Loosen" the flame a bit and bring it back to the center of the pan. It works great.

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