Microwaves can be a lifesaver for individuals who have busy lifestyles or are lazy to heat their food on the stove.
These appliances use electromagnetic radiation to heat the components within them in seconds. Even though microwaves have many advantages and functions, they may be dangerous. So, if you’re wondering if a microwave can explode, the answer is yes.
These appliances require special care and maintenance to ensure they function correctly and do not malfunction. Let’s further discuss can a microwave explode and how to avoid it.
How Do Microwaves Work?
To understand how microwaves work, we must first examine the background behind their invention. According to Business Insider, microwaves got invented by accident (1). Percy Spenser, a renowned scientist, was researching a magnetron, a device that produces intense microwave radiation.
Soon after, Percy saw that the chocolate in his pocket had melted, which led him to consider using this device to warm up meals. Microwaves function by transforming electrical energy into electromagnetic radiation.
When you put food inside a microwave, the food begins to absorb these electromagnetic radiations, and the water molecules inside the food begin to vibrate.
The vibration produces heat, which helps in warming the food.
Can A Microwave Explode?
Even though the chances of a microwave exploding are low, certain things may trigger microwave fires and explosions.
Preparing Certain Foods
You should not put some foods such as eggs, grapes or peppers in a microwave, wondering why?
There isn’t much room inside the microwave for an egg to cook while it has a shell intact. As the microwave heats the egg, steam builds, creating pressure that causes the egg to explode. Additionally, grapes burst due to their structure.
According to Science, an explosion or spark is likely to happen if you place grapes cut in half inside a microwave (2). When you put sliced grapes in a microwave, the space between the halves may absorb microwave radiation.
This may cause the plasma to form out of air or other molecules, exploding or catching fire.
Additionally, peppers contain highly volatile capsaicin compounds.
If you add a sufficient number of peppers to a microwave and have it run for a while, there is a high chance of an explosion.
Use of Metal Containers
One of the top instructions in a microwave instruction book is not to use metal containers to heat up or cook food in the microwave. Metals have atoms with free electrons that vibrate rapidly and generate dangerous levels of heat when exposed to microwave radiation (3).
The metal can reach a high temperature and end up scorching the microwave if you keep it in the microwave for longer than a few seconds.
Moreover, most metal containers are thick, and it takes some time for thick metal containers to heat up to dangerous levels. Therefore, if you unintentionally heated food in the microwave inside a metal container, you will probably be fine.
However, if the container has a rough surface or sharp corners, that is where you need to be careful.
The free electrons which bounce off an irregular surface build up intense negative charges. It is very likely for sparks to develop once these charges come into contact with air atoms. If those sparks come in contact with something explosive, they may cause fires and explosions.
Although this won’t always result in microwave fires, the possibility that it may should be a sufficient reason for never using metal containers in a microwave.
A safe alternative is to reheat your meals using microwave-safe containers available on the market.
Wiring Issues or Faulty Construction
Most microwave manufacturers place a high priority on safety to make sure no user gets harmed while using their equipment. Many microwaves also come with safety certificates, which show that they have undergone extensive testing to ensure no safety risks exist.
Also, because they are man-made, microwaves may explode or catch fire due to poor wiring or construction.
Researching the microwave model you’re interested in purchasing thoroughly to see what other customers have to say about it is the best approach to prevent such accidents.
You can research if that particular microwave model is prone to exploding.
Avoiding microwave models that are known to malfunction significantly lowers the likelihood of you bringing home a microwave that may catch the fire of exploding in the future.
Tips To Maintain Microwaves and Avoid Explosions
Most microwave owners do not give much importance to maintenance even though it is necessary to reduce the risk of explosions and to keep your microwave running efficiently.
Here are some microwave maintenance steps you should take regularly to avoid microwave fires and explosions.
Keep the Inside And Outside Of Your Microwave Clean
If you do not clean your microwave regularly, food and grease particles can accumulate inside and outside the microwave. These food particles can sometimes leave burn marks and cause significant damage to various parts of the microwave.
To avoid this, clean your microwave weekly with regular dish soap and water. Cleaning your microwave can also assist you in maintaining its appearance and keeping it looking new even after years of use.
Cover the Dish When Heating Food in the Microwave
Microwaves produce heat by causing molecules within the food to vibrate. This has varying effects on different food items, and some food items may burst or even catch on fire. When you cover your food with a microwave-safe plastic lid, even if the food inside explodes, the microwave will be less likely to be damaged.
Furthermore, protecting your food when microwaving allows you to ensure that all portions of the dish get cooked evenly.
Do Not Put Metal Containers in the Microwave
As previously discussed, metal containers are highly susceptible to heat up to dangerous levels in a microwave, causing your microwave to heat up and catch fire. Therefore, always use microwave-safe Tupperware for cooking or heating food in a microwave.
Make Sure the Microwave Door Is Not Damaged
Microwave doors are subjected to a great deal of abuse since we frequently smash them in a hurry or when our hands are occupied. Furthermore, opening the door while the microwave is on might result in a blown safety fuse.
If the door of your microwave is damaged or does not close properly, it can cause the microwave to malfunction and harm other parts of the appliance. Therefore, always inspect your microwaves for damage and get them repaired to avoid any mishaps.
Never Run an Empty Microwave
Running an empty microwave might cause serious harm to the appliance.
When you run an empty microwave, the appliance’s components, such as the glass, are forced to absorb that energy. These parts are not designed to endure such pressure and may burst or get damaged with no means of repair.
Consider the Weight Capacity
Almost all microwaves have weight restrictions that may be found in the user manual or on the company’s website. It is difficult to exceed these weight restrictions because food does not weigh much. However, if you are heating or cooking food in large and heavy dishes, such dishes may weigh a lot and surpass the weight restrictions of the microwave.
If you consistently exceed the weight limits of your microwave, it may substantially influence the appliance’s parts, such as its motor, and cause strain on it. This causes considerable damage over time.
Therefore, try to use lightweight dishes in your microwave.
Use Surge Protectors to Protect Your Microwave from Power Surges
Power surges may cause considerable damage to various electrical appliances, including refrigerators and blenders. They do, however, cause the most harm to microwaves.
Surge protectors are an inexpensive solution to this problem and will help you ensure that power surges do not damage your microwave.
Always Get Professional Assistance to Repair Damages
Many individuals prefer fixing minor electrical issues around their house. Therefore, if you are one of those people, remember that you should never attempt to repair a microwave yourself and instead delegate this task to professionals.
Microwaves are complicated electrical appliances, and the capacitor inside them may retain a large amount of energy even after being unplugged, presenting a safety risk to you.
Furthermore, you may end up worsening the problem with your microwave rather than solving it. The most common cause of microwave fires is faulty wiring, and if you are inexperienced at fixing microwaves, there is a chance that you will mess up their wiring during the repair process.
Therefore, if your microwave requires repairs, always contact the manufacturer for assistance.
In summary, the answer to can a microwave explode is that, while the odds of a microwave exploding are one in a million, it is always a good idea to be cautious.
Regular maintenance, keeping certain food items away from the microwave, and not using metal containers will help you avoid accidents or damage to your microwave.
1. Is It Unsafe To Microwave Food?
According to Harvard health publishing, food cooked in the microwave is as safe as cooked on the stove (4).
2. What Causes The Popping Noise In A Microwave?
The popping noise in the microwave usually comes from the food being heated up and cooked inside. Foods with high-fat content may sizzle and pop more than food items with low-fat content. You can reduce the popping noise and food from splattering over the microwave by covering the dish with a microwave-safe lid.
3. What Will Happen If I Leave A Metal Spoon In The Microwave?
Nothing will happen if you leave a metal spoon in the microwave. This is even more likely if the spoon is left in a food dish, as the food absorbs its reflected electromagnetic radiation.