What Is the Boiling Point of Milk?

Factors That Affect the Temperature at Which Milk Boils

Milk boils at a higher temperature than water.
Although whole milk and skim milk boil at different temperatures from each other, it's not enough of a difference to matter in the kitchen. Both types of milk boil at a slightly higher temperature than water. Joseph Clark, Getty Images

You might need to know the boiling point of milk for cooking, or you might simply be curious. Here is a look at the boiling point of milk and the factors that affect it.

Science of Boiling Milk

The boiling point of milk is close to the boiling point of water, which is 100 C or 212 F at sea level, but milk contains additional molecules, so its boiling point is slightly higher. How much higher depends on the chemical composition of the milk, so there isn't a standard boiling point of milk that you can look up. However, it's only a fraction of a degree off, so the boiling point is very close to that of water.

As with water, the boiling point of milk is affected by atmospheric pressure, so the boiling point is highest at sea level and lower high on a mountain.

Why Is the Boiling Point Higher?

The boiling point of milk is higher than the boiling point of water because of a phenomenon called boiling point elevation. Whenever a nonvolatile chemical is dissolved in a liquid, the increased number of particles in the liquid causes it to boil at a higher temperature. You can think of milk as water that contains salts, sugars, fats, and other molecules.

Just as salt water boils at a slightly higher temperature than pure water, milk boils at a slightly higher temperature, too. It's not a huge temperature difference, though, so expect milk to boil about as quickly as water.

You Can't Boil Milk in a Pan of Hot Water

Sometimes recipes call for scalded milk, which is milk brought almost to boiling but not all the way. One easy way to scald milk is to set a container of milk in a pot of water and bring the water to a boil. The temperature of the water won't exceed its boiling point because the water forms steam.

The boiling point of milk is always slightly higher than that of water at the same pressure, so the milk will not boil.

What Exactly Is Boiling?

Boiling is the transition from a liquid state into vapor or gas. It occurs at a temperature called the boiling point, which is where the vapor pressure of the liquid is the same as the external pressure around it. The bubbles are the vapor.

In the case of boiling water or milk, the bubbles consist of water vapor. The bubbles expand as they rise due to decreased pressure, eventually releasing to the surface as steam.

More on Boiling Points