I’ve always been scared of the possibility that microwaves produced by my microwave oven could potentially harm me in some way or form.
While the debate about whether microwaves are safe or not continues, I still feel that it’s important to just assume the worst and try to protect and prevent yourself from getting harmed.
I did a little research to further understand how microwaves work and whether or not they can go through certain popular materials.
Here’s what I found.
How do microwaves work?
Microwaves cook food by making water molecules vibrate and producing heat. This process is called dielectric heating. Microwaves are not radioactive or contaminated with radiation.
Microwaves heat food primarily by heating the outer layers of thick foods. The microwaves penetrate these thicker foods and cause the water molecules in them to vibrate and create heat. This cooks the food from the outside in, which is why microwaves work well for cooking thicker foods like meats, casseroles, and potatoes.
Microwaves cook faster and are more energy efficient than traditional cooking methods because they use less energy to create heat. Microwave ovens cook food quickly and without adding water. In fact, adding water can actually slow down the cooking process because it dilutes the sauce or broth that you are trying to cook.
Microwave ovens use glass, paper, ceramic, or plastic containers because microwaves pass through these materials quite easily. You should not cook with certain types of plastic in your microwave oven because they can melt due to high temperatures in the food within. You will usually see a warning on these containers if this is a potential problem. Metal pans or aluminum foil should not be used in a microwave oven because they will reflect microwaves and it can damage the appliance.
The instruction manual that comes with each microwave provides guidelines for using containers in the oven.
What materials can microwaves pass through?
Microwaves can pass through a range of materials, which makes them ideal for cooking foods. However, there are some materials that they cannot pass through. Microwaves can pass through glass, paper, plastic, and other materials that are of similar composition. They cannot pass through metal and are instead reflected, which makes using them to cook food possible as a microwave oven is made of metal that reflects the microwaves back and into the food.
Can microwaves go through space?
Microwaves can travel through space as they do not need air or oxygen to travel through as some waves do. Microwaves can similarly travel through the air that is around your microwave oven, so if your microwave is damaged and possibly leaking microwaves, you need to either get a new microwave or get it repaired to stop that leaking.
Can microwaves go through metal?
Microwaves cannot travel through metal. The reason for this is the actual anatomical configuration of metal on a microscopic level. Most metals have a lattice arrangement of their atoms with electrons floating around freely, not grounded to anything. The microwaves most often attract those electrons and are then unable to pass through the metal. The free electrons force the microwaves to bounce around as they are attracted to them all around the microwave oven on a microscopic level. Therefore, the microwaves continuously bounce around and are absorbed by the food in the microwave, which then excites the molecules in the food. When the molecules in the food are excited, they then heat up, which heats up the food.
Can microwaves go through wood?
Microwaves can pass through wood and as a result, wood is not something you want to put in the microwave. Wood is dangerous in the microwave as a result of the water that is in the wood. You want to avoid microwaving it because the microwaves are going to go into the wood and heat up the water that is in the wood therefore heating up the wood and potentially causing damage. Possible damage that might occur are the wood can heat up too quickly and is splits, it may crack, it can become very dry and brittle, and it may even dry out the wood to the point that it breaks and cannot be used for anything anymore.
Can microwaves go through walls?
Microwaves can go through the majority of walls, save for those that are made of metal and are designed to stop microwaves. The reason for this is that drywall allows microwaves to pass freely. This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if they were not able to pass through walls, things like wireless internet and cell phones would not work inside the house. You can see this in action with homes that have metal roofs. The metal roof may make it harder for you to use a phone inside or get a good signal simply because the metal roof inhibits the free movement of the microwaves that make our cell phones work.
Can microwaves go through glass?
Microwaves can pass through glass. This is why the tray inside the microwave is made of glass. It allows the waves to move in and out of the glass tray so that they can bounce off of the bottom of the microwave and heat the food up. The front of the microwave is also glass, but it does have a metal mesh that is inside the glass to keep the wave bouncing around inside the microwave so that they do not escape.
What are some safety tips for using microwaves?
When using a microwave, there are some safety tips that you should keep in mind.
First and foremost, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations. Additionally, use cookware that is not metal or aluminum foil. Microwave-safe glass, ceramic, or plastic containers are recommended by the FDA.
“Super-heated” means water has been heated beyond boiling temperature without signs of boiling. If the water is disturbed or moved in a clean cup after it has been super-heated, it can violently explode out of the cup and cause injury to anyone in its proximity. Avoid adding ingredients such as instant coffee or sugar to the water before heating.
Scalding and burns have been reported on microwave users’ hands and faces due to hot-water eruptions caused by microwaves. The FDA recommends a “look see” in order to detect any potential issues with your oven, including hinges, latches, or seals, which could lead to leakage of excessive microwave radiation leaking from the oven. When using a microwave, the agency recommends that you don’t use an oven if the door doesn’t close firmly or is bent, warped, or otherwise damaged. A failure in the door sensing switch can allow some parts of a microwave to operate when the door is open.
Exercise caution when heating water. If you are using a microwave to heat water, make sure to only use containers that are safe for microwaving. The FDA recommends avoiding adding ingredients such as instant coffee or sugar to the water before heating. Adding these ingredients can increase the chances of hot-water eruptions.
Microwaves can get hot quickly, so wear something to protect your hands when removing dishes. Make sure the door shuts tightly and that the microwave is working properly before using it. Some safety tips for using microwaves include not placing metal objects in the microwave, checking to make sure ceramic, plastic, and glass dishes are safe to use, and only using suitable dishes.
Some products may be unsafe or cause damage by reflecting microwave radiation if they’re made of materials that melt easily or reflect a significant amount of light–like aluminum foil, for example. If a container is sealed, it could explode when heated in the microwave. Lastly, anything with an outer shell (e.g., food) should be removed to prevent potential fires or damage from occurring when cooking without the removal of shells. Microwaves never need to be preheated before use, but they always need something with which to cook; this may include meat, vegetables, etc..
A pacemaker might be affected by radiation leakage from a microwave. Your pacemaker issues could result in health problems if they are triggered by faulty equipment. Palpitations are one way your body may react to a faulty unit or the microwave’s power; dizziness is another way you could react. Some foods require more time in the microwave than others to cook, so remember these tips when using it for cooking food, as well as keep an eye on your oven while it cooks food.
Lastly, avoid leaving the room for long periods of time in order to avoid a minor problem from becoming severe. Do not use your microwave to cook items that are flammable, such as aluminum foil, paper cups, or disposable utensils.
How to use a microwave properly
If you are looking to ensure that you are using your microwave safely, you do need to follow a few safety steps.
- Make sure your microwave is in good repair. If it is damaged or if there is any obvious issue, do not use it.
- Make sure the bowl or vessel that you are using is microwave safe.
- Make sure you microwave your food for the appropriate amount of time and at the correct power setting.
- Stand a few feet away from the microwave when it is heating.
- When removing food from the microwave, make sure the bowl is not hot. If the bowl is hot, it was likely not microwave safe. Make sure you allow time for food to cool a little before you attempt to eat it to avoid burns.
What material best absorbs microwaves?
The best material for absorbing microwaves is a material called nanocomposites. This material is made up of graphene and iron. These materials help to effectively and efficiently absorb microwaves so that they are not floating freely in the air.
What materials deflect microwaves?
Metals are the materials that are best for deflecting or reflecting microwaves. The best metal for the job is actually copper. Your microwave is going to be made with a variety of metals all thoughtfully planned out to help reflect the microwaves back and through the food as they are intended.
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