Boiling water 'trap' question

Okay, yeah, I’m asking the weird ones.

A friend of mine and I are talking about being scalded alive (don’t ask, you don’t wanna know). His question, transcripted here for your reading pleasure is…

“how hot does water become before it is nothing but a boil so hot that it is nearly steam and would flay the flesh off a man in second ?”
He’s a sick, sick man, but I told him I’d try to find out.

Thanks in advance.

Um, 212 degrees F or 100 degrees C is the hottest water can get at 1 atmosphere or pressure (i.e. sea level) before it turns to steam. You can’t have water at anything above 212 degrees.

I doubt this is hot enough to flay the flesh off a man in one second. It certainly would hurt though.

I suggest you look at alternate liquids such as oil for your endeavor (whatever it may be!)

Now my question: What would “flay the flesh off a man in a second”? One second that’s all the time we have. Just morbidly curious.

Superheated water
More superheated water.
McAndrew’s Hymn

Just as a general rule of thumb used in industry, pipes carrying hot fluids over 120 F are supposed to be insulted. This is apparently the lower threshold for causing a burn should someone brush against said pipe(s) accidentally.

As for flaying the skin, you’re looking for something like a melting point of skin…and even then, you’d need a lot of energy to make it happen in one second. You’re looking for almost an instantanoeus temperature rise of the skin…not easy task to accompish. Besides, the water would have to be raised way above its normal boiling point. Thus, high pressure (and a strong pressure vessel) would be required to surpress boiling.

Another morbid question you might ask, however: How much pressure is needed to create high-pressure steam that could cut a person in half? Even just a small pinhole leak in high-pressure steam lines pose such a danger, and the steam (becoming superheated once leaking from the pipe) is not even visible to warn a person! This is yet another danger of working in industry when walking down (following) pipelines. - Jinx Ouch!!!

That’s only true AFTER you brush up against the damned thing, and find that it isn’t insulated. :smiley:

Molten lava.


I can verify this story as accurate. I was working that day in the Old Faithful Ranger Station when the incident occurred.

I will not describe the details Snopes chose to leave out of their article. I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Heated Oil has been used as a weapon to do just that. Other things to do that would be Sulfuric Acid/Hydroflouric Acid etc. - possibilites are endless to the sick mind.

Sorry for your grim experience Duckster.

As for the OP you may find it more efficient to use pressurized steam from a nozzle if you want to flay yourself. Steam leaks in ship engine rooms are dangerous because they are invisible. I learned from an experienced MMC that the way to find the leak was to pass a broom handle over where the suspected pinhole was. When the jet of steam sliced off the handle you found your leak.