When thawing meat in cold water, why must one change the water regularly? I've heard two contradictory explanations:

  1. The water warms to match room temperature, which is unsafe.
  2. The water cools to match the meat, and no longer thaws it efficiently.

Which is true? Or is it something else entirely?

1 Answer 1


The second one.

If you tried it, you'd see ... it becomes ice water

  • A frozen turkey is essentially a giant ice cube. Nov 23, 2018 at 0:12
  • As an alternative to changing all the water periodically, you can set the bowl in the sink, fill it, and leave the cold water running into it very slowly.
    – AndyB
    Apr 25, 2020 at 2:56
  • @AndyB : It actually doesn't work all that well. The new water is at the top, and so is the stuff that runs out of the bowl. The chilled water stays in the bottom of the bowl. You're better off changing the water a few times. You would need the new water falling from sufficient height that it causes mixing in the bowl, which wouldn't happen with it running slowly at a typical sink depth.
    – Joe
    Apr 26, 2020 at 23:19
  • @Joe What you say makes sense. But when I use this technique, the water flowing out is colder than tap water, so there must be at least some mixing going on. Maybe the water stream in my faucet is more turbulent?
    – AndyB
    Apr 28, 2020 at 4:32
  • @AndyB : it'll pick up some energy through conduction. But you really want convection (mixing) to get more efficient thermal transfer so you're not wasting a lot of water.
    – Joe
    Apr 28, 2020 at 18:35

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