Microwaves are a common appliance in most kitchens. These devices have been around for decades and are found in almost every modern-day kitchen. They can be used to reheat food, cook frozen dinners, or pop popcorn.
So the question begs, can microwave ovens explode?
Yes, microwaves are not entirely risk-free. They can malfunction, spark, overheat, catch fire and explode – causing serious injury and even death. An easy signal to watch out for is smoke, aloud crackling noise, or a burning smell. However, there’s a lot of ways to prevent this and protect yourself.
The FDA actually has a short article about this but I just wanted to elaborate about the details they seem to leave out.
This blog post includes tips on how to operate a microwave safely as well as the dangers of microwaving certain items such as metal objects or liquids that could cause the microwave to overheat or explode!
How does a microwave work?
Microwaves were invented in 1946 which were originally giant machines used in commercial and restaurant settings.
Today’s microwave ovens are much smaller and most fit right over a 3 x 2 foot footprint.
Microwaves work by using microwaves to heat up food. The waves are created in the magnetron which is a tube that produces electromagnetic radiation at about 2450 MHz, or megahertz (MHz).
Microwave ovens use these frequencies of energy and turn them into microwave frequency bands with wavelengths ranging from 12-inches long all the way down to 0.01 inches long!
Microwave ovens use these waves to heat up food by causing water molecules in the items to be heated. This heat cooks the insides of food. If you microwave your food such as vegetables and meat products like bacon or sausage links (for example), the waves will cause the molecules of the food to vibrate rapidly which causes friction that heats them from within until they are hot.
This technique of cooking forces out the water and if cooked for long enough, the water will vaporize and you’ll end up with just a dry lump of what used to be dinner.
What would cause a microwave to explode?
There are so many things that can cause a microwave to malfunction. It’s important to know what the risks are and how to stay safe when operating a microwave.
Microwaves can malfunction, spark overheat or catch fire if they’re not used properly – that’s why it is important for you as an operator of this device to be careful! Some common causes include:
Placing metal in the microwave
If you ever tried to microwave an object made of metal, you’ll know that it can cause sparks. This is because microwaves are made of electromagnetic waves and the metal reflects those EMFs back into your microwave, which causes a spark to happen in there!
Trust me when I say this, once you’ve accidentally placed metal in a microwave, you’ll never do it again. The light show and the crackling sounds are surely going to frighten you for life.
The ricocheting of electronics may perhaps cause a huge spark and ignite the food or metal. This will cause a fire and perhaps even an explosion if it’s led on for long enough.
Certain types of food in the microwave
Uncooked whole eggs should not be cooked in the microwave. Eggs are basically liquid that is surrounded by a shell.
As explained above, a microwave will cook from the inside first. This will cause the egg to boil on the inside, and build up a massive amount of pressure.
If you open your microwave after cooking a whole egg, there’s a strong chance that the egg will explode.
Another forbidden food in the microwave is a full grape. When microwaving a grape, the insides will convert to plasma. Any longer with it being cooked will result in that plasma catching fire.
Faulty construction or wiring
This is honestly a rare occurrence. Most microwave companies are pretty good in the safety aspect of the matter.
Electronic products that these manufacturers create often have a safety standard that is called UL. This means they are tested and approved by Underwriters Laboratories, which ensures the product will not cause any harm to consumers or their property.
The only time you might see this happen with microwaves would be if there was an issue in the construction of wiring during the installation.
A number of things are possible when it comes to faulty construction and wiring. You could have gotten a bad wire that ultimately causes a spark with your outlet and catches fire.
The microchip within the microwave could short circuit and cause a spark.
The microwave could overheat and catch fire due to the wiring being too close together or not insulated properly, among other things that are possible with faulty construction of microwaves in general.
There’s no way to avoid everything that could happen with faulty wiring, but there are a few things you can do to help reduce the risk.
The first thing is to make sure that your microwave has been installed by an electrician who knows what they’re doing and take note of any warning labels on it before using it for cooking or heating anything in general – this includes liquids like water too!
If there’s no electrician and this is just a standalone microwave that you bought from the local store, make sure you read the manual before using it.
If you’re still not sure, call a professional to come and inspect the wiring for any potential issues that could cause problems in your home or office!
How to prevent microwave accidents from happening
The best thing to do first with your microwave oven is to read the manual! It’s not as scary or difficult to use a microwave oven, but it is important that you know the risks and how best to avoid them.
The best thing to do is just make it a habit of checking on what’s cooking before opening up. If there are sparks coming out from inside then don’t open them until they stop happening.
Below are just a few guidelines and tips to help you prevent microwave fires and accidents.
Read the manufactures recommendations
Make sure you follow any recommendations that the manual addresses. The manufacturer’s manual often has really good tips and recommendations on how to use your microwave safely.
Use only microwave-safe containers
There are containers, plates, and bowls that are not meant for microwaving. You should only use microwave-safe containers when using a device that has this function, otherwise, you risk the chance of it exploding or catching on fire and causing injury to yourself.
The very least that could happen is that the plate or tray you use melts.
Avoid super-heated water
Microwaves can produce something called “super-heated” water. This is water that is way beyond a boiling point but doesn’t actually boil.
This can look very deceiving because most people will assume it’s not hot when it’s extremely hot. Avoid putting water into the microwave for too long.
Don’t microwave flammable objects
This is probably really silly but does happen on occasion.
There was a time when someone dropped their phone in water and decided to record the process of placing the phone in the microwave to dry it.
The phone exploded and caught on fire.
This is a good example of why you should not microwave flammable objects. It didn’t take too long to realize that this wasn’t a good idea. By the time, the owner knew it, it was already too late.
Cooking anything for a really long time is not a good idea.
It is better to cook things for less time and then finish them off again in the microwave for a second round. You can run it through completely in one round This is if you are unsure of how long to cook your food for.
Wear protection when removing cooked food
It’s important to know that the microwave not only cooks the food but the plate it’s in as well. Make sure you wear the right protection when removing the food from the microwave.
It is important to use oven mitts or a towel that you can grip tightly with your fingers and not let go of it so easily. This helps you to be protected against any potential burns due to heat transfer through contact between hot plates/bowl ware (or other cooking utensils).
Also, accidentally dropping a hot plate of food all over the floor is no fun.
Keep children away
Don’t let children play around the microwave. They may not know what they’re doing and could get hurt or cause a fire by touching the door, opening it while food is cooking in there (or even just standing too close).
Children are also more likely to be injured if you have an accident with hot plates of foods that fall on them from above when microwaving.
Make sure to clean the microwave regularly
Food and spillage that’s left inside the microwave oven should be cleaned up promptly. This will help to prevent any lingering odors and the buildup of bacteria that can lead to not only unpleasant smells but also health risks like food poisoning or other illnesses from contaminated foods.
If you have a spill, wipe it off with paper towels before using your microwave again for cooking (or anything else). If there is dried residue that’s is left for a long time. This could cause the interior of the microwave to rust.
The microwave is coated with a layer of paint that prevents waves from leaving the chamber. Water left can eat through the paint and expose the metal underneath. When metal and liquids make contact, it produces rust.
What should you do during a microwave fire?
If your microwave starts to catch fire, turn it off and unplug the appliance. If you can’t reach your microwave, use a fire extinguisher to put out any flames that are visible or call 911 for help from emergency personnel who will know how best to deal with this type of situation
If there is smoke coming up through vents in front on top then open windows if possible.
Your first priority is to keep you and your family safe. Always make sure the area is clear before you try to put out the fire.
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