How Microwave Ovens Work?

It is now the moment for me to proudly confess that the last 10 years I survived without a microwave. When someone happened to ask me why, I never had a solid answer for that. But now I know.

How Microwave Ovens Work? They work by bombarding the food with electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency spectrum. Although it may sound scary, it is important to remember that not all electromagnetic radiation is bad. For instance, the most familiar form of electromagnetic radiation is sunshine, which provides light and heat. Microwave radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation, meaning it can’t directly break up atoms or molecules. So it is not thought to damage DNA of living things, the way X and gamma rays do. Still, microwaves can obviously cause heating effects, and can destroy some nutrients from your food.

When you place your food in the microwave and turn it on, the water molecules in the food start to align themselves with the electric field of the microwave, which flips them back and forth rapidly. The molecular friction from it disrupts the hydrogen bonds between neighbouring water molecules and creates heat, which cooks the food. Microwaves can penetrate deeply into solid matter of the food, although the denser and thicker the food, the less penetration microwave will get. That’s why vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants are cooking much faster than let’s say, potatoes.

Microwave ovens are extremely efficient at heating water compared to for example, a gas burner, as they allow little energy to be spent on the outside environment. However, there’s one thing that must be taken into account when using a microwave.  It’s called overheating, especially when it comes to water and liquids. What can happen is that when plain water is heated in a microwave in a clean ceramic or glass container, it can prevent bubbles from forming, which normally cool it down. The water can become superheated well beyond its boiling point without it ever boiling. So when it is disturbed, say by moving it or dropping something in it, the heat releases violently, sending boiling water all over the inside cup of your microwave.


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