Hang on to those little pop-up turkey timers this holiday season
to throw in your survival kits and bug out bags to use as WAPIs!
This holiday season hang on to those little pop-up turkey timers that let you know your turkey is done to throw in your survival kits and bug out bags! In fact... go ahead and just pull them out of your turkey before you even cook it as they are actually terrible for cooking turkeys (they are the main culprit in overdone and dry turkeys all across America!!). 

Despite the fact that these little timers produce terrible turkeys, they aren't completely useless. These little plastic temperature indicators actually have a really terrific survival use that most are completely unaware of! Trust us... skip using them for turkeys, wash them off and throw them in your survival kits! 

Why you ask? Did you know that you can actually use these little pop-up turkey timers as water pasteurization indicators (WAPIs) to let you know when your water is hot enough to have killed all pathogens without actually bringing it to a boil (see this page to learn why you would want to do this)! These little guys are designed to go off at 185° F which is actually 15° hotter than your water needs to be to kill all micro organisms (160° F is the temperature typically used to pasteurize milk, but 149° F is all it takes to kill pathogens in water)! Just drop one of these little guys in your container of water and heat until the indicator pops out letting you know that your water has reached 185° F and your water has been pasteurized!

Why would you want to do this you ask? Why not just boil? Did you know that the amount of fuel it takes to bring your water to 200° F... it actually takes that much fuel again just to raise your water those additional unnecessary 12° it takes to bring water to its boiling point?? 149° F is all that is required to kill all waterborne pathogens! Why on earth would you use more than twice as much fuel just to bring your water to 212° F?? That is a colossal waste of fuel, not to mention the waste of time in additional heating and cooling down again so that your water is drinkable! For more on boiling vs. water pasteurization, check out our How Long Do You REALLY Have To Boil Water to Make It Safe To Drink page.


Did you know that these little pop-up turkey timers are actually reusable? Just reheat the tip, push the pop-up indicator back in and allow to cool so the button stays in and you are ready for your next water pasteurization session!

Water pasteurization with a typical pop-up turkey timer!
Just to demonstrate the effectiveness of the pop-up turkey timer
as a water pasteurization indicator (WAPI), we decided to photo
document the process on our indoor stove top so that you can see
how well it really works! 

Here we start with a pot of hot tap water on the
stove top with the pop-up turkey timer floating in the water poised 
to go off once our water hits our pasteurization temperature. We
also make use of a thermometer to show water temperature as we
progress! As you can see here, our water is at typical "hot" tap
water temperature at about 120° F (48° C)

Our water has reached a safe water pasteurization temperature but our turkey timer has not activated yet. Hold tight!
As you can see via our thermometer, our water has risen in
temperature to slightly over our actual required minimum
pasteurization temperature of 149° F (65° C) where all 
living organisms are killed quickly. We are now at 160° F 
(71° C) which is the accepted industry standard used to 
pasteurize milk and various other food/drink products. But as
you can see in the photo, our pop-up turkey timer still hasn't
activated yet. It hasn't "popped". So does this mean that our 
experiment is a failure? Not so fast!

Our turkey timer has activated and our water is fully pasteurized!
Look! Our pop-up turkey timer popped! Let's take a look at 
the thermometer and see what temperature our water is now! 
As you can see, our water temperature is now slightly under 
170° F (76° C). Now this is slightly higher than the 
temperature we need for water pasteurization, but it's still 42°
less than the 212° F (100° C) required to boil water! That is 
a huge fuel and time saver! 

Remember... we don't need this timer to show us that we are 
precisely at pasteurization temperature (149° F/160° F or 
65° C/71° C depending on your personal preference in 
pasteurization standard). We only need a reliable indication 
that we have AT LEAST reached pasteurization temperature.
That being the case... mission accomplished!!

Getting ready to reset our pop-up turkey timer pasteurization indicator!
Now here's aspect of these pop-up turkey timers 
that very few people are aware of: They are 
reusable! We are going to demonstrate how to
"reset" them! 

As you can see, I am holding the activated timer 
in my hand. I simply dipped the tip of my little 
timer back into my pot to soften the soft metal or 
wax that holds the blue indicator in place until it 
softens enough from heat to allow the internal 
spring to "pop" the indicator out. Once the tip of
our turkey timer has been reheated, I push the
blue indicator back in.

To reset your turkey timer, simply reheat the tip, press the indicator back in and then cool!
Once the blue indicator is again depressed, I then
run the tip of our timer under cold water to cool
the metal or wax so that it once again retains
the blue indicator. 

Our turkey timer water pasteurization indicator has been reset and is ready to use again!
As you can see, our improvised pop-up turkey 
timer water pasteurization indicator has been
reset and is ready to use again! 

Just as a precaution, we would recommend that you do a similar test on your stove top to verify the actual activation temperature of any pop-up turkey timer that you intend to use for water pasteurization and be fully familiar with it. That being said, turkey timers in general do the same thing at very similar temperatures so even without a test like this you should be able to safely and reliably use a pop-up turkey timer as a water pasteurization indicator!