Any science geeks around?

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I'm a computer/video game/electronics/tabletop geek so this isn't my area. Here's the story. Yesterday I was trying to make ramen. I was boiling the water, but no matter how long I waited it just wouldn't boil. The stove was red hot for ages and it was well over twice as long as it usually takes to boil, but there wasn't a single bubble. I tried to take the pot off the stove and as soon as I picked it up it boiled instantly. It boiled like i've never seen anything boil before. It was like someone poured a glass of water in a deep fryer. The water boiled right up over the edge of the pot and splattered all over my chest and arm. Somehow I miraculously didn't get burned very bad, but now i'm scared to try to boil water in my own kitchen. I know it sounds impossible, but I swear it happened. Why would I make this up? There has to be a scientific explanation for this. If anyone knows what it is can you please tell me? So far the only explanation I could come up with is 'a witch put a curse on my ramen'.
This is a very rare phenomenon and more common (though still very rare) with microwaves. The water for some reason did not have a way to activate the liquid to gas phase transition and became super heated. It only happens if the water is very still, has few dissolved minerals, and is in a smooth container. As soon as you moved the pot, jostling the water, the water flash boiled. You can avoid this in the future by stirring the water while it is heating up or putting another object in the pot. But usually, just the movement of the water in putting it on the stove is enough and this should only be a problem if you let the water sit for a long time before heating (or reheat previously boiled water without moving the water much).

Most people aren't so lucky and wind up with severe burns on their hand and/or face.

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Were you using distilled water?  As bubba said, this usually happens with low mineral content water, which is what distilled water is.  I don't know the numbers, but /i think this is alot less rare if you start out with distilled water.  Thus, if this is what happened, switching to tap water could help.

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I'm no scientist, but from my limited knowledge it sounds like the same concept as flash-freezing beer, only in reverse.

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