Can You Use A Glass Bowl For Double Boiler? [3 Pros, 2 Cons]

Image of a glass bowl being used for double boiler

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Whether you’re melting some chocolate for a cake or preparing some sauces or soups, having a double boiler will provide you with an excellent way to melt and simmer the ingredients through steam. However, if you don’t have a double boiler on hand, you might want to improvise to do the job. So can you use a glass bowl for a double boiler?

Yes, you can use a glass bowl for double boiler. However, make sure that you’re using the right kind of glass. Otherwise, you may end up heating the glass bowl unevenly or too quickly, which can shatter the glass. Also, make sure that the glass bowl is suitable to fit in the bottom pot correctly.

Now let’s walk through everything you need to know about makeshift double boilers and how to make one properly.

Will Glass Bowls Work For A Makeshift Double Boiler?

Most commercial double boilers are as simple as two saucepans on top of each other. However, most kitchen saucepans aren’t designed to carry another saucepan in them.

If you want to make a DIY double boiler, you can simply use a glass bowl to get the job done. However, not all glass is created equal.

The standard glass will expand and contract when it gets hot at one part and cold on another. This puts so much stress on the glass bowl that its internal structure can shatter.

On the other hand, heat-resistant or thermal glass, also known as Pyrex glass, can withstand high temperatures without breaking by evenly distributing the heat across its body.

For that reason, you can simply use a glass bowl for a double boiler. However, for extra assurance that it doesn’t shatter, make sure that it’s made from low thermal expansion glass.

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How To Make A Makeshift Double Boiler With A Glass Bowl?

Now that you know you can use glass bowls for double boilers, here’s how to make one at home.

1. Pick a Saucepan and a Glass Bowl.

Find a saucepan of medium or small size. The choice of the saucepan size should depend on the size of the glass bowl you have.

After that, choose a suitable glass bowl that will fit exactly over the saucepan’s rim. While picking the glass bowl, make sure you pick a low thermal expansion or Pyrex one, such as this Pyrex Glass Bowl Set on Amazon. 

You’ll be using steam from the saucepan to heat the glass bowl, so it’s essential to make sure there aren’t any gaps where the steam is escaping.

2. Fill the Saucepan with Water.

Fill the bottom saucepan with a suitable amount of water.

Ensure that the water level is not high enough to touch the bowl at any part.

3. Heat the Saucepan.

With everything in place, you can now add your ingredients to the glass bowl at the top and transfer this DIY double boiler to your stove. If you’re using a pyrex bowl, you don’t have to worry about using high heat immediately.

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it do its work.

When you’re done, make sure that you don’t put the bowl on a cold surface immediately so that it doesn’t shatter. Instead, let it cool down gradually on a spread towel.

What Are The Advantages Of Using A Glass Bowl For Double Boilers?

There are plenty of reasons why glass bowls are ideal for double boilers. Let’s have a look at some of those perks.

1. Glass is transparent.

In most cases, you’ll have to be doing other things while using a double boiler, such as preparing other ingredients for your cake or sauce.

For that reason, having a clear glass bowl that you can see through to know when your molten ingredients are ready will help you multitask more efficiently.

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2. Glass is non-reactive.

Many professional chefs prefer the old-fashion “glass bowl on top of a saucepan” over commercial double boilers.

This is because some of these double boilers are usually made of aluminum, which is quite reactive, and some people can distinguish a metallic taste when sauces are cooked in it.

On the other hand, glass is entirely inert and won’t interfere with the taste of your food or leach toxic atoms from their inside.

3. Glass bowls are readily available.

Another great reason for using this simple makeshift glass bowl double boiler is that it’s super cost-efficient.

While commercial double boilers will cost you extra money and require extra storage space, you only need your handy saucepan and a glass bowl to make a DIY double boiler at home.

The best part is that you can still use the saucepan and bowl separately without shelling out extra money.

Not only that but glass bowls also come in a wide range of sizes and designs that can easily suit your saucepan. Even if you have to buy a glass bowl, it’s still not going to cost half as much as a double boiler would.

Things To Keep In Mind While Using Glass Bowls For Double Boilers

Despite all the merits that glass bowls have, they’re not entirely perfect for a double boiler.

Here are some reasons why you may not want to use a glass bowl for a double boiler.

1. Glass is heavy.

One of the major problems with glass is that it’s pretty heavy compared to stainless steel or aluminum.

This means that handling a glass bowl can be a bit quirky, especially when it’s filled. It’s also challenging to deal with a glass bowl if you’re making large batches of soup or chocolate.

In addition to being a little heavy, many glass bowls don’t come with handles because they’re usually cold to touch. The lack of handles also adds a layer of difficulty when it comes to handling them in a double boiler.

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2. Glass is prone to shattering.

Glass bowls come in different types, but they all have a thing in common. At a certain level of pressure, they’re all prone to shattering.

The problem here isn’t only the inconvenience of cleaning up the broken glass but also the dangers that come with shards of glass and sharp broken pieces.

Many people prefer commercial stainless steel and aluminum double boilers over glass because they’re somewhat more durable.

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