# What [if anything] is special about the boiling process of purifying water (excluding temperature)?

I know that water boils at $100~^{\circ}\rm C$. I also know that the standard way to purify water is to boil it for roughly a minute. What I'm curious about is, what properties of the boiling process purify the water?

Is it purely a temperature thing? Are we saying "roughly a minute" so that the temperature actually increases beyond $100~^{\circ}\rm C$, thus reaching some actual temperature needed to kill bacterial/viral stuff? Or, does the "rolling" of the boil actually add a physical benefit to the purification process?

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• Unless you're adding a lot of salt to your water, you're not going to get a temperature above 100 ºC. In fact, at high altitudes (e.g. backpacking) your boiling water will be at lower temperature than 100 ºC. – S. Burt Nov 10 '15 at 21:33
• @S.Burt - very intriguing! Care to explain why this is, or is that fit for another question? – MrDuk Nov 10 '15 at 21:35
• I suspect there are several questions related to boiling point change already here on chem.SE. In short, the boiling point of any pure liquid depends only on the external pressure (hence, higher altitudes have lower boiling liquids). You cannot exceed the boiling point by adding more heat or waiting for more time. This boiling point can be change, however, by dissolving other things into the water (try searching for colligative properties for an explanation). – S. Burt Nov 10 '15 at 22:30