Nathan Myhrvold bought a blowtorch for home improvement projects. It ended up improving his eggs.

Mini torches have long been used to add a sugary crackle to crème brûlée. And the popularity of sous vide cooking introduced more people to the fun of using one as a portable broiler to give a final sear to steaks.

But Myhrvold—the creator and co-author of the Modernist Cuisine books, which explore the unexpected science behind food and cooking—has found that the basic hand-held torches sold at hardware stores have all sorts of uses in the kitchen.

Like making it easier and faster to peel large volumes of hard- and soft-cooked eggs.

“Torching an eggshell makes it easier to peel without damaging the firm egg white. Flash the egg with the torch while rotating it constantly,” says Myhrvold, whose latest book is Modernist Bread.

We were dubious, until we tried it.

We set several hard-cooked eggs on a rimmed baking sheet set on a heat-safe surface, then briefly passed the blowtorch flame over them on several sides. Within 10 or so seconds, the shells cracked and split. The egg whites were unblemished; the shells peeled off easily in large chunks with no sticking.