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Boiling Water In Microwave
Dangers Of Boiling Water In A Microwave Oven
Can I Boil Water In A Microwave?
From a technical point of view, a microwave oven is a heating appliance and boiling water in a microwave oven is possible. Water would boil with a temperature of at least 100 degrees centigrade and the microwave can easily generate that heat. However from the point of view of safety, boiling water in a microwave oven could be very dangerous. You might have heard of microwave boiled water 'bursting' on the face and causing serious injury. You would also hear of microwave oven manufacturers trying to brush aside the dangers of using a microwave to boil water. At the same time, doctors treating patients injured by water boiled in a microwave oven keep reminding microwave users that such accidents are not very uncommon. In this report we provide an indepth analysis into the dangers of boiling water in a microwave oven and also explain why the microwave boiled water could burst and cause grave injury.
Understanding The Normal Water Boiling Process
If you decided to boil water in a microwave oven, the water would be poured into a vessel and then placed in the microwave oven. The next step would be to set the control as recommended by the mircowave oven manual. You will now expect the microwave water boiling process to be handled by the oven. In the above paragraph we have summarized how water is normally boiled on a burner and expect the same process to happen when boiling water in a microwave oven. However, there is an important difference between boiling water on a conventional burner flame and boiling water in a microwave oven.
When trying to boil water in a microwave, the water heats up very fast, the formation of vapour bubbles is unable to keep pace with the rapid increase in water temperature. As a result of this, the bubbling effect that we are accustomed to see when water boils does not take place. The temperature of the water put to boil in the microwave, continues to increase and goes beyond the boiling point of water. The important thing to note is that, this water boiling in the microwave oven could reach a high temperature without the formation of any vapour bubbles. Another interesting point is that, slight scratches or pits on the sides of the vessel (containing the water) allow the vapour bubbles to form more easily. If you are boiling water in the microwave using a new vessel or cup, it is very likely that the inner surface does not have these scratches or pits. Such a (new) vessel would further increase the chances of the water in the microwave getting overheated beyond the boiling point of water. This is an explanation of the process that takes place when boiling water in a microwave, we will now see how this microwave 'superheated' water can be dangerous.
The Dangers Of Boiling Water In A Microwave Oven
We have seen above that, in the process of boiling water in a microwave oven, the water can get overheated without exhibiting the conventional 'bubbling' effect on the surface. This is exactly what makes boiling water in a microwave dangerous. The bubbles if formed, would help release some of the heat in the microwave heated water. The absence of these bubbles means that, the water boiled in the microwave oven retains a high degree of heat. If you take the vessel out of the microwave, the slight jerk or movement of the superheated water causes rapid formation of the vapour bubbles. These bubbles then rush to the surface of the water and cause the 'bursting' effect. The hot water could spray on your face and hands causing harmful injury. A similar thing could happen if you boiled water in the microwave oven, opened the oven door and then put a spoon or tea bag into the vessel. The stillness of the microwave boiled water could be disturbed by even the slightest movement and cause the trapped heat to suddenly escape as numerous bubbles.
So How Can You Safely Boil Water In A Microwave Oven.
We would like to mention that incidents of microwave heated water 'bursting' is not an everday occurence. At the same time the danger of boiling water in a microwave always exists. If you are thinking of boiling water in a microwave oven a few simple measures could reduce the chances of a nasty accident. However, it might not always be possible to ensure that everyone at home, especially children will follow these measures when boiling water in the microwave oven. So read these measures and take a decision whether to boil water in the microwave or not, depending on the environment in your own home.
(a) Always use a vessel or cup that is manufactured (meant) to be used in microwave ovens. So make sure that the vessel used to boil water in the microwave oven is meant for microwave use. It is not the color, shape and size of the vessel that determines whether it can be used in a microwave oven. There are certain features that are specially included in 'microwave-able' containers, these features might not be visible to the naked eye. So get the vessel or cup from a standard supermarket or department stores.
(b) Read the instructions provided in the manual that came with your microwave oven. Do not increase the time for heating water beyond that mentioned in the manual. Boiling water in a microwave by overheating it can be very dangerous. Some of the measures that we have described in this report regarding boiling water in a microwave oven, might not be mentioned in the manual, in such cases it is safer to include these measures along with those mentioned in the manual.
(c) Once the water in the microwave oven has been heated for the time recommended in the manual, leave the vessel with the boiling water in the microwave oven for a minute or two. You can open the door of the microwave and leave the vessel in it during this time. Do not try to move the vessel, do not put a teaspoon or any other object into the vessel at this time. Do not even try to drop a teaspoon of instant coffee or sugar into the vessel. Follow this very carefully when boiling water in a microwave oven.
(d) After having left the vessel in the microwave for a minute or two, take the vessel out of the oven and do not move it near your face or body. This is a very good habit and should be rigidly followed. Boiling water in a microwave oven can be made safer by following this measure.
(e) There is another recommendation that is often made, this is to put a small wooden mixing stick (given at coffee stalls to mix the coffee and sugar) in the vessel. This should be done when the vessel containing the water is placed in the microwave oven. The microwave oven should be started after placing the stick in the vessel, DO NOT try to put the stick after the water has boiled in the microwave oven, read (c) above. It is believed that this method used when boiling water in a microwave, will allow the vapour bubbles to form on the uneven surface of the wooden mixing stick. For this reason, you need to use a wooden mixing stick and not a metal or plastic spoon.
(f) Last but not the least, read and understand this report on boiling water in a microwave oven. Having done that, explain it to everyone at home who might use the microwave for boiling water or for any other purpose. It would also be a good idea to send this link to everyone that you know. Boiling water in a microwave is not a very rare thing and severe accidents can occur at any time, if care is not taken.
The above information regarding boiling water in a microwave oven is meant to provide safety information. We are not directly or indirectly related to any manufacturer of microwave ovens or any other cooking appliances.
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