Most people know they can’t put metal in a microwave without damaging the device or causing a fire. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other overlooked items that can destroy one of your home’s most important appliances. With that in mind, here are ten things that should never go in your microwave.
Understanding Your Microwave
To understand why certain items don’t belong in a microwave, it helps to understand how the devices work. Originally designed for military radar systems, microwave technology generates short, high frequency radio waves that are easily absorbed by the fat, sugar and water molecules within organic matter. Infused with extra energy, these molecules begin vibrating, which generates the heat that cooks the food.
On the other hand, some materials reflect microwaves, while others do not absorb radio waves at such a low frequency. This is one of the big reasons why certain materials can harm a microwave device. Likewise, there are certain items comprised of toxic materials that can leach into food when exposed to microwaves. Some of the biggest offenders include:
- Chinese Take-Out Containers: At first glance, these items look like they were made for the microwave. After all, they are made of cardboard, and they fit perfectly. Unfortunately, most Chinese take-out boxes also include metal handles that can cause a fire, which could damage your microwave and even spread to your kitchen.
- Paper Lunch Bags: You should never put brown paper bags from the grocery store inside a microwave. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this could cause them to catch fire and emit toxic fumes.
- Yogurt Containers: Flimsy plastic yogurt containers are constructed for single-use and cannot withstand intense heat. They may also melt or warp, exposing your food to potentially-toxic chemicals.
- Eggs: According to some people on the internet, you can hard boil an egg in the microwave. Despite these claims, if you try to cook an egg in your microwave, you are likely to end up with a huge mess. Since intense microwave heat causes moisture to turn into steam inside an egg, it doesn’t take long for an outward explosion to occur.
- Styrofoam Containers: Again, just because something can fit inside a microwave, doesn’t mean you should put it there. When Styrofoam is heated, it can melt or give off toxic fumes. This can cause your food to become tainted with toxic chemicals that can harm your health.
- Plates with Metallic Trim: Many people don’t realize that some of their bowls and plates are accented with ornamental metals around the edges. Inspect your plates carefully to make sure they are free from any type of metal.
- Plastic Storage Containers: If there are labeled “microwave safe,” you don’t have to worry. If not, there’s a good chance your storage containers will melt and infuse your food with toxins.
- Travel Mugs: If the travel mug is made of stainless steel, you are risking a fire or, at bare minimum, serious damage to your microwave. If the mug is plastic, the intense heat could melt it or cause chemicals to leach into your beverage.
- Aluminum Foil: Make sure to take foil off of leftovers before reheating them in the microwave, or you could start a fire.
- Nothing: If you run your microwave without anything inside of it, you could damage the device. Without anything to absorb the microwaves, the unit’s components are left to do the job. You may get away with it a few times; however, eventually you will ruin the appliance.
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