Rice/ Side Dishes

How to Cook Brown Rice Safely

brown rice in a white bowl on a red cloth

Rice, for some reason, absorbs arsenic from the soil while it’s growing. Arsenic is a natural element that, in miniscule amounts, is harmless. In large amounts arsenic is a toxic poison. If you eat a lot of rice, arsenic can accumulate in your body, which can’t be good news.

I only buy organic rice, which I’d thought was safe from arsenic contamination, but a Dartmouth study showed that all rice contains arsenic. The level of arsenic in rice is increasing because of air and water pollution, which deposits more arsenic in the soil.

I used to cook rice in just enough filtered water that the rice absorbed all the water while it cooked.  But, since learning about arsenic in rice, I rinse rice thoroughly, then simmer the rice in a lot more filtered water than it needs.  I strain the rice and put it back into the pot to keep it warm. My hope is that any arsenic in the rice will go down the drain with all that extra water.

Brown rice is healthier than white rice because it contains more fiber, which is good for everyone. But brown rice contains more arsenic, sadly. You need to be extra careful cooking brown rice to remove the arsenic. I now rinse brown rice several times, and cook it in triple the recommended amount of filtered water.

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How to Cook Brown Rice Safely

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 35 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes

Even organic rice contains arsenic, which it absorbs from the soil it's grown in. To cook rice safely, rinse brown rice well, and cook it in triple the usual amount of water.


  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt



Rinse rice thoroughly in lots of water.


Put water and rice into a large saucepan.


Cover, bring to a boil.


Stir in the salt, and reduce heat to a simmer.


Simmer, covered, for 35 minutes.


Uncover, and drain the rice through a sieve.


Put the rice back into the saucepan, and keep warm until ready to use.

Put six cups of filtered water into a saucepan with a lid.

water in a stainless steel pan

Rinse one cup of brown rice thoroughly. Pour the rice into the pan of water.

brown rice pouring from a seive into a pan of water

There will be a lot of water, and a little rice.

brown rice in a pan of water

Cover the pan, and bring the water and rice to a boil.

brown rice boiling in a pan

Stir in the salt. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover, and cook the rice for 35 minutes.

brown rice simmering in a pan

Drain the rice, and put it back into the pan to keep warm until serving.

brown rice in a pan with a wooden spoon

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