A microwave oven might seem like the simplest of kitchen appliances, but it’s easy to cause sparks in one if you’re not careful.
If you’ve ever wondered how dangerous this can be and what the repercussions are, read on to learn more about this common occurrence.
Accidentally putting metal in your microwave oven can be dangerous, especially if it’s aluminum foil, which causes sparks to fly when you put it in the microwave.
In addition, it can pose a fire hazard that could burn your house down!
Here’s what to do if you accidentally put metal in your microwave oven, plus other things you should consider when using your microwave.
Metal reflects microwaves. So if you accidentally place a stainless steel knife or fork into your microwave to heat it and those microwaves hit metal, they can cause damage to your microwave oven. Of course, the damage isn’t sure to the microwave, but your food will be fine.
Why Can’t You Put Metal In a Microwave?
It all has to do with electromagnetic waves—the energy transferred as radiation between electrically charged particles, like those inside a microwave.
When you put a piece of metal into a microwave, the microwave oven absorbs some energy and sends it back out as heat.
Metal in a microwave can reflect the energy and damage its components, causing it to fail.
Some materials, like stainless steel, are great conductors of electricity, meaning they quickly absorb electromagnetic waves.
But, as you may have noticed from using a magnet or building an antenna when you were younger, most metals are magnetic.
These magnets create forces that push and pull on each other, allowing electric currents to move through them.
But, unfortunately, those same magnetic forces can reflect electromagnetic waves into it, like those produced by a microwave.
So while you probably aren’t going to damage your microwave oven by putting a fork or spoon inside it, you can cause damage by placing something more extensive like a cookie sheet inside it.
Once that electromagnetic energy is inside your microwave, it can bounce around until it finds an object to reflect at your appliance.
The reflective forces are more potent at closer distances; putting a massive piece of metal like a cookie sheet inside your microwave won’t do you any good; all of that energy will reflect into one spot on your appliance.
Is It Safe To Eat Food Microwaved With Metal?
Yes, using a microwave to heat food in metal or ceramic dishes is safe.
The intense heat of microwaves causes food to warm quickly and evenly; however, even though you might not see them, tiny micro-vibrations can also cause some hot spots.
Metal objects reflected in these hot spots will ignite foods or beverages.
Therefore, it’s best to remove highly reflective items such as silverware, plates, and bowls when reheating food in a microwave oven.
In the microwave, thin metal or metal with sharp edges can cause problems.
For example, microwaves force electric charges back and forth through metal, so they can catch fire if it’s too thin.
Likewise, charges may collect and spark if the metal has sharp edges or points. Metal is non-reactive with most foods, and it will not cause a chemical reaction.
While it’s unlikely that any problems will occur if you place metal objects in your microwave, some foods may taste metallic after microwaving.
What Happens If You Accidentally Put Metal In the Microwave?
Microwaves work by using electromagnetic waves to agitate water molecules, which causes them to bounce off each other and produce heat.
These electromagnetic waves are very similar to radio waves, but microwaves tend to be much shorter.
The microwave is relatively safe and won’t cause harm to most objects placed inside. However, some materials can become extremely hot or dangerous when microwaved.
Metal objects are an excellent example of this. Here’s what happens if you accidentally place a metal object in your microwave:
If you place a metal object in your microwave, most of it will be fine. However, if you have sharp points or rough edges that stick out, you’ll want to be careful.
These areas can become very hot and cause burns if they contact your skin. Smaller objects like utensils may also fly around when microwaved and potentially injure someone.
The most important thing to do if you accidentally microwave a piece of metal is to unplug your appliance as soon as possible.
The last thing you want is an overheated piece of metal to start a fire, so it’s best to prevent that from happening.
The same applies if you place a metallic object inside and it starts sparking or glowing bright red. Remove it immediately and wait until everything cools down before trying again.
You usually won’t damage your microwave oven by placing a piece of metal inside. However, it’s always essential to take precautions when dealing with fire or potential burns.
Next time you’re cooking a meal, be sure to remove any pieces of metal lying around. It’s best to keep these items away from your microwave and save yourself a potential headache.
What To Do If You Accidentally Put Metal In the Microwave?
If you are wondering what to do if you accidentally put metal in your microwave oven, you must take steps to make sure your microwave oven is still safe.
- You should first turn off your microwave oven and unplug it from its power source.
- Make sure your microwave is not malfunctioning. Sometimes, when you place metal in your microwave oven and close it, you hear strange noises inside the unit.
It could be a sign that something is malfunctioning, but it could also be simply because your unit is heating up. It happens to all microwaves at some point as they begin to age.
As long as you do not smell any burning or melting plastic and no strange sounds from your microwave oven, there is no reason to worry about a significant malfunction.
However, you should be concerned about ensuring that your microwave oven is still safe for use.
- Check for damage to ensure that your microwave is still safe to use. If you find that your microwave is entirely undamaged, it is safe to use. However, if you find dents or punctures in any of your microwave’s walls or doors, you will need to have it looked at by a professional.
These holes and dents could mean cracks inside your unit, leading to more significant problems. It can be anything from a simple repair to an expensive replacement.
It’s best to get a professional opinion before using your microwave again.
The best thing you can do if you accidentally put metal in your microwave oven is to take preventative measures so that it does not happen again.
- First, inspect your microwave oven before each use: You should first check your microwave before using it. Ensure that no forks or spoons are hiding inside it and that there are no children around to make a mistake. While these precautions won’t eliminate all accidents, they will help ensure that they happen less frequently.
- Make sure you set your microwave to a lower power level: If you accidentally placed metal in your microwave oven at full power, it could have holes. It can be hazardous and even life-threatening, so you should take steps to prevent it from happening again. For example, you can adjust your microwave’s setting to a lower heat level.
- If you can, use a microwave-safe plate or bowl. Another way to avoid damage to your microwave oven is by using a microwave-safe dish. Placing your food inside something like a glass or ceramic plate will protect your unit from harm and stop you from accidentally putting metal in your microwave oven.
- Please take note of any unusual smells or sounds: Some microwave ovens have an automatic shut-off when they detect a problem. If your microwave starts to smell like it is burning, you should unplug it immediately and get help from a professional. It could be a sign of a fire inside your unit, and you should take precautions before it’s too late.
It isn’t advisable to put metal in your microwave oven, but if you accidentally put a metal object in your microwave, fear not!
Accidentally leaving a metal object can sometimes damage the microwave oven, but the food placed there is safe to eat. Serious injuries due to this aren’t common, but be careful not to damage your microwave.