How Do You Use a Boiling Point Chart for Cooking?

A boiling point chart establishes the precise temperature needed to boil materials for cooking. For example, the boiling point chart for water accounts for altitude's impact on the ability to boil water, as a higher temperature is required for lower altitudes. The boiling point chart starts at sea level, where it takes a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit to boil water, and works up to an altitude of 26,000 feet, where only 168 degrees Fahrenheit is required to start boiling.

The boiling point chart for fats and oils specifically addresses the smoke point of the substance. A smoke point is the precise temperature needed before the oil or fat begins to emit smoke. While smoking oil is often not a problem, it is important to maintain a temperature at or below the smoke point, as fat begins to break down and emit free radicals and acrolein into the air, causing bitter food, odor and watering eyes.

Additionally, oil or fat should not be heated past the smoke point to the flash point, where it gives off a gas that can ignite over a lit flame. A chart covers oils that smoke at low temperatures, such as extra virgin olive oil at 325 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and oils such as safflower oil, which can be heated up to 510 degrees Fahrenheit before it begins to smoke.