If you do not apply safety measures and are not cautious while using a microwave oven, it can be a disaster. Used properly it can provide a convenient, quick and enjoyable cooking experience.

Microwave ovens are becoming increasingly popular home appliances. They heat and cook food by exposing the food to electromagnetic radiation. They do make cooking and heating a lot simpler; if you know how to use them properly. The use of microwave ovens can be very tricky at times. Not all food containers are safe for use in these ovens. Prior knowledge on the microwave safety of all kinds of materials available in the kitchen is necessary for their safe and effective use.  If you have a microwave oven at home that you use often, it is best to buy dishes labelled microwave-safe so that you don’t always have to be cautious when using it. However, this may not always be possible. Thus, the following information will be useful for you.

Glass containers are probably the safest: There is almost no debate on whether they are microwavable or not.  One very useful hack to check whether a ceramic container is microwave safe or not, other than looking for the label, is to fill a glass cup or bowl with water, place it in or on the dish you are testing, and put them together into the oven. Then, at the highest power, heat the cup and dish for a few seconds until the water becomes warm. If the cup of water is warm but the ceramic dish is not when you take it out, the dish is not microwavable. Areas around the cup may be warm, but the dish remains relatively cool. However, this test should not be carried out with metals, as they are capable of producing dangerous sparks. This includes aluminium foil, utensils, pots, pans, or other dishes that are made of or contain any form of metal. When you buy plastic containers, also check if they have the safety label. Most plastics aren’t microwave safe; they can melt and contaminate the food or liquid inside. 

There are a few more things to keep in mind when using microwaves besides the container of your food. Plastic wraps or other forms of packaging should always be removed, and brown paper bags should never be placed inside the oven. If your appliance is empty, it should not be turned on. As there is no food or liquid to absorb the energy, the magnetron tube can be damaged. If the door of the microwave is bent, the latch is broken, or the door won’t close for any reason, do not attempt to heat or cook food in it. Call for professional help to get these prepared.

Sometimes, food can heat up unevenly in the microwave oven. This happens due to two major reasons.  First, because of the uneven distribution of microwave energy in an oven. There are “hot spots” and “cold spots” in the oven. That is why food is rotated through on a glass turntables inside the oven. Even in the best circumstances, energy is not distributed evenly, although this goes unnoticed countless times. Second, the nature of food being cooked is also a factor that to the unevenness. Factors such as specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity of the food also play a significant role. The shape, size, volume of the food and the container it is placed in also makes a difference.