How Superheating WorksFor vapor bubbles to form and expand, the temperature of the liquid needs to be high enough that the vapor pressure of the liquid exceeds the vapor pressure of the air. During superheating, the liquid doesn't boil even though it is hot enough, usually because the surface tension of the liquid suppresses the formation of bubbles. This is somewhat like the resistance you feel when you try to blow up a balloon. Even when the pressure of the air you blow into the balloon exceeds atmospheric pressure, you still have to contend with the balloon's resistance to expand.
The excess pressure required to overcome surface tension is inversely proportional to the diameter of the bubble. In other words, it is harder to form a bubble than it is to blow up an existing one. Containers with scratches on them or inhomogeneous liquids often have tiny trapped air bubbles that provide starting bubbles so that superheating won't occur. Homogeneous liquids that are heated in containers free from imperfections may heat to several degrees past their boiling point before the vapor pressure is sufficient to overcome the surface tension of the liquid. Then, once they start boiling, the bubbles may expand rapidly and violently.