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Is Your Microwave Oven Killing You?

Updated on November 8, 2009

There are a lot of myths surrounding the microwave oven, from horror stories concerning household pets to tall stories about cancer and infertility. I am sure that few of us haven’t heard about someone who was cooked from the inside out by their oven, or was terribly burnt from eating food which was still cooking inside them.

The truth of the matter is that this magic box in our kitchen cooks without heat, making it not just safer than a conventional oven but more economic too.

A conventional oven applies heat to the outside of food which radiates towards the centre and a microwave oven works exactly the same way, except the heat is not directly applied to the food. The microwaves penetrate the surface causing the water and fat molecules to vibrate, then as each molecule vibrates it produces its own heat making the molecule next to it to vibrate and so on, until the food is completely hot.

This chain reaction heats the food without heating the inside of the oven and although the container which the food is in may get hot from the cooking inside, there is no chance of burning yourself on the oven. This is also a more efficient method of cooking, reducing the time and energy spent and thus using less power than conventional techniques.

The microwaves cannot penetrate metal and are safely contained within the metal lined oven and fine metal mesh incorporated inside the glass door. If the door is opened when the oven is in use it switches off instantly to prevent any of the microwaves escaping, making it perfectly safe. Even though the food is hot there are no microwaves trapped inside it, so it will cool exactly like any other cooked food and is no more hazardous.

Like any other household appliance, there are a few common sense precautions you must take to use a microwave oven safely. Never put metal objects such as bowls, foil, foil containers, metal twist ties or cookware with a metal glaze into a microwave. Although doing so will not cause any particular danger, it will disrupt the operation of the oven and cause alarming sparks, which can damage the glaze, paint or gilding on decorative china. Do not put sealed objects like capped jars, bottles or even eggs in their shells into a microwave, as the pressure caused when they heat can make them explode. Never knowingly overcook food or use the oven to dry anything like clothing, fruit, herbs or flowers, as when the moisture level falls to a critical point they can burst into flames.

So to summarize, a microwave oven is one of the safest, convenient and economic methods of cooking, as long as you follow the manufacturers’ guidelines.


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