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Dispel the most popular myths about the dangers of microwaves

Dispel the most popular myths about the dangers of microwaves. These articles do crop up very often. This is quite good although I have had to go through and edit it a bit.

Today they can be found in 95% of households, and we have become accustomed to warming up, reheating or cooking almost any meal without needing the oven or hob. It is convenient, however, there are some myths that just keep bouncing around about how harmful microwave ovens are. Lets dispel those here and now. We've been selling and repairing microwave ovens for over 30 years so we have some experience in their design and use.

How does a microwave work ?

Every microwave oven has a generator of electromagnetic waves called a magnetron. These micro waves cause water or liquid molecules in the oven to oscillate or vibrate, the resulting friction of the molecules against each other produces heat, which is enough to raise the temperature, much the same as rubbing your hands together will make them warm. The most common conductors of this heat are water, fat and sugar. One or more of these are contained in almost everything we want to cook which makes the microwave oven so useful.

Myth 1. Dangerous radiation

Despite the fact that the word "radiation” conjures up dread for many people, the radiation used in the microwave is non ionising radiation, the only thing it can do is cause polarized molecules to vibrate, and as a result produce heat. It is no different to radio and mobile phone signals and despite the myths surrounding those - (a different subject), microwaves are contained inside the oven cavity. It is different from radioactive radiation, which leads to the disintegration of molecules and atoms. Microwave radiation also leaves the structure of the molecules unchanged, so it is quite safe.

Myth 2. You cannot be near a working microwave

Microwave radiation has poor penetrating power and are easily shielded by metal. That is why the walls of microwave ovens are usually made of metal. In this situation the main source of "microwave leakage” is around the door of the microwave oven, so it makes sense to ensure that it is securely closed. For this reason all microwave ovens automatically turn off when the door is opened and cant be started unless the door is latched closed so that the risk of exposure is minimal.

Microwave leakage from an intact microwave oven is so small that it would almost be impossible to measure. We, as microwave technicians check for leakage after every repair. Microwave ovens have so many safety devices that we rarely find any leakage unless there is an obvious fault on the oven. Customers concerns are more often based around other aspects of the running microwave, electrical noise created by the components inside, steam or condensation being produced by the food cooking or general mechanical rattles and noises.

Myth 3. Microwaves damages the food

The only thing a microwave can do with food is to heat it. Therefore, the only changes that can occur are associated with the processes occurring during heating of food. When you use the microwave, they are no different from those that occur when cooking or frying.

It is known that heat treatment reduces the content of vitamins and other nutrients: fresh fruits and vegetables healthier than cooked. However, the microwave has a small advantage because the food in it is cooked faster and vitamins are retained better. Studies have shown that when cooking in a microwave oven better retains most water-soluble vitamins (such as B1, B2, folic acid). This is because in microwave the food is cooked "dry”, without immersion in boiling water which "washes out” some of the vitamins.

There is no reason to think that using a microwave can harm you. However, it makes sense to remember a few simple precautions that will help you safely use your microwave.


Do not use cheap plastic containers that are not designed for microwave use ( chinese takeaway or butter tubs). When heated, they may release harmful substances (such as BPA's). It is best to use microwave safe specific containers or glass (pyrex).

Be careful. The food or drink you are heating will get hot. Thats what you want it to do. Expect to need oven gloves if you have been cooking for a while. The microwave itself produces a lot of heat so may well become very hot to the touch.

Created On  30 May 2017 16:59 in General use and cooking articles  -  Permalink


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