Microwaves have become a staple in modern kitchens for a reason. They provide convenience and efficiency when it comes to heating up our favourite meals.
However, amidst the speed and ease they offer, there are certain items that should never find their way into these powerful appliances.
From explosive disasters to health hazards, knowing what not to put in a microwave is crucial for both safety and preserving the integrity of your kitchen equipment.
In this blog post, we will explore 14 surprising things you should avoid microwaving at all costs. So before you press that start button without a second thought, read on to discover the potential dangers lurking within your microwave’s confines.
What Should You Never Put in a Microwave?
We’re all in a rush most of the time, and the microwave is one of the appliances that we rely on to save time and get things done fast. Naturally, the more things you have going on, the less time you want to spend preparing meals.
Still, even though it’s one of the handiest things in your home, it can’t do it all. A key element of microwave safety is to know what you can and can’t put inside it.
These items don’t seem like they’re dangerous to go inside your microwave, but they can actually cause a lot of trouble:
1. Plastic Containers and Bags
A lot of our food nowadays comes packaged in plastic, and it’s best to remove it before you insert the item into the microwave, especially if it isn’t labelled “microwave safe”.
When heated to high temperatures, plastic emits toxic fumes and chemicals that can seep into your food. This could have an impact on your well-being. Alternatives that are safer compared to plastic are glass or ceramic. Use paper towels to cover your food instead of plastic wrap.
Styrofoam, a form of plastic, is composed of chemicals such as benzine and styrene, which are known to be carcinogenic.
After eating food stored in styrofoam that was heated up in a microwave, people have occasionally experienced side effects like headaches, loss of hearing, and depression.
Safe to say, none of these are things to be wished even upon an enemy, so to be safe, the next time, remove the food from the styrofoam container and place it onto a plate. You can cover that with an appropriate lid.
3. Processed Meat
Many people have probably told you that hot dogs and beef jerky are bad for your health. It’s far worse to heat them up in a microwave.
Processed meats that are filled with chemicals and preservatives to increase their shelf life are not suitable to be heated by microwave radiation.
Studies have shown that microwaving processed meats can result in increased production of harmful chemicals known to cause heart deceased due to increased amounts of cholesterol. To avoid this, cook processed meat on the stove.
4. Food That You’ve Already Reheated
The more time any food is reheated, the more it diminishes in quality, especially if you have kept it in the fridge too long. Food items like chicken, rice, potatoes and anything containing cream or milk can cause food poisoning if they’re put in the microwave because of bacteria build-up. If food that’s been prepared using cooking oil is reheated, it can release free radicals, which have been known to cause cancer.
We’re not sure why you would like to microwave grapes, but you should know if you stick any kind of fruit in the microwave, it’ll most likely lose its essential nutrients.
When grapes are put in the microwave, they quickly turn into plasma, which creates a mini explosion in the process. Besides that, even if you cut them in half, microwaving grapes won’t result in a tasty treat.
6. Water for Tea
Many people microwave water as a convenient way to heat up their drink, but the process is more trouble than it’s worth (and in our humble opinion, you can’t have a tasty tea with microwaved water).
Water in the microwave can become super-heated without ever coming to a boil. The superheated water can ruin your teabag. The water for different types of tea needs to be set at different temperatures.
You can use a stove burner or kettle to get your water to a boil, even if it takes a few minutes longer. By using these methods, you can ensure that your tea is always at the proper temperature and that you aren’t ruining your tea bag.
If you’re looking to hard boil eggs quickly, the microwave isn’t the appliance for the purpose. When eggs get heated up too much, like in a microwave, steam builds up inside and can’t get out if the shell is still intact.
If the eggshell is completely intact, the steam has no way to escape, collecting at the top and resulting in the egg exploding. No yummy breakfast, just a big mess for your or your local oven cleaners to clean up.
8. Hot Peppers
There are numerous potential issues that can arise if you heat hot peppers in a microwave.
For example, the ingredient that makes them hot vaporises, and when vapours come in contact with your throat and eyes, it can cause a stinging sensation similar to pepper spray.
What’s even more dangerous is that microwaved peppers can explode or catch on fire, especially if they’ve been dried.
There are exceptions to the rule, but, for the most part, metal doesn’t belong inside a microwave. The electromagnetic waves emitted from the appliance bounce off metal objects, creating sparks. Thin foil is safe in small amounts as long as it’s laid out smoothly. However, if it’s heated for too long or crumpled up, it can catch on fire.
10. Paper Bags
You can make popcorn in the microwave, and it’s perfectly safe. However, not all paper bags have the same properties as the popcorn bags.
They have susceptors, a material made to consume the radiation waves that are produced by the microwave. Normal paper bags can release toxins and fumes when heated up. Because microwaves produce heat very quickly, they can actually catch on fire.
11. Travel Mugs
It may seem like a convenient way to warm up your coffee in the morning. However, travel mugs are typically made of metal, and the lining in the mugs will prevent the liquid from getting warmed up.
This can also damage your microwave. If it’s heated long enough, the metal can even catch fire. Probably a lot of people are on the safe side with this one because travel mugs are often taller than standard coffee mugs, which makes it difficult to fit them in your microwave.
The issue with reheating fish in the microwave isn’t so much about the smell it’ll emit as it’s about your health and tastebuds.
Fish is food that needs to be taken with care, and using a microwave to reheat it will only dry it out. If you really want to reheat fish leftovers, the most recommended way is to use the stovetop or the oven.
13. Tomato-Based Pasta Sauce
Tomato sauce splatters when heated, and if you put it in the microwave, it’ll make a mess.
However, the inconvenience of cleaning it up isn’t the primary reason why it shouldn’t go inside it.
When pasta sauce is rapidly heated in the appliance, the ingredients that make it thick increase in density, forcing the liquid to fight its way out; it’s best to heat up the pasta sauce on the stove. That way, you won’t break any Italian hearts.
14. Nothing (Running It Empty)
One of the worst things you can do to your microwave is to run it without anything inside. If there’s nothing in the microwave when it’s turned on, there’s nothing to absorb the electromagnetic waves that it emits.
These waves go back to the magnetron which created them. If this keeps happening, it can ruin the appliance, and it might even explode or catch fire.
When using a microwave, it is important to be careful and educated. This device has improved our lives significantly, but we must be aware of its restrictions.
We have learned that certain items should never be placed inside a microwave due to the potential hazards they pose.
From aluminium foil and metal utensils to plastic containers and Styrofoam, these 14 things can cause fires, explosions, or release harmful chemicals into your food.
To ensure safety and prevent damage to both yourself and your appliance, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and use common sense when deciding what can go in the microwave.
Remember, a few extra minutes on the stovetop or in the oven may save you from costly repairs or even worse consequences.
So next time you’re tempted to take shortcuts with your trusty microwave friend, think twice – because being mindful of what goes inside can make all the difference between convenience and catastrophe!