Whether you are cooking vegetables or reheating meals, adding a touch of oil can make the food flavorful and moist. Because microwave focus their energy on water molecules, questions arise about whether or not you can microwave oil.
Cooking oils have varying degree of heat allowance before reaching the smoke point or ignition. Oil does not have a boiling point like water, which is 100℃, it starts to smoke and the catches on fire.
Can you put oil in a microwave? Yes, you can microwave oil for a very short time. Oil does not contain any water, therefore the oil itself does not heat, but rather the container holding the liquid.
To heat up oil safely in the microwave actually depends on the type of oil because all cooking oils have a different flash point.
For instance, olive oil doesn’t have the same polarity as other kinds of oils, therefore it remains liquid at room temperatures. You can heat olive oil in a microwave, but the liquid won’t heat up directly.
On the contrary, coconut oil remains solid at temperature slightly higher than room temperature, making its texture hard instead of liquid at room temperature. Microwaving coconut oil is a suitable way to melt solid coconut oil to be used in baking, but it’s the container that is heating and not the oil itself.
The most important thing is that microwaves can be used to heat oils, but in small quantities. If you are concerned about microwaving oil, answered below are frequently asked questions including ways of preventing oil explosion, microwave tips and the best way to microwave oil.
Is it safe to microwave oil?
Yes, it is safe to microwave oil, however certain precautions must be followed. The container must be microwave safe and completely dry, any drop of water can cause a potential explosion.
In general, the flash point of oil is relatively higher than the boiling point of water. Hence, it can heat up at higher temperatures without an explosion.
For some oils, place a small amount for safe microwaving. Be cautious not to overheat since the risk of catching fire or exploring the container is very high.
It may not be safe to warm oil in the microwave for too long because of a lack of water molecules in the liquid. This means that all of the energy from the microwave is being directed to the container holding the liquid, which may pose many safety challenges and potential dangers.
Ultimately, oil is a bad absorber of microwave radiation because it contains no water molecules which the waves use to great friction that results in heating.
Will oil explode in the microwave?
While it may be safe to microwave small amounts of oil, you should not continue to heat at high temperatures. Remember, the oil does not heat up and energy is instead transferred to the container, which can explode due to difference in temperature, which is very dangerous.
To avoid a hazard explosion, use a small amount of oil, and avoid from overheating too long. Even though you can microwave oil safely, heating up large quantities at one time increase the chances of exploding or catching fire due to prolonged stress on the container.
Can you warm up the oil in the microwave?
Yes, you can warm oil in the microwave. However, oil is a poor absorber of microwave radiation, which means that the heat is ultimately transferred to the container as a conductor that directly warms the oil.
Microwaves warm things up by sending electromagnetic radiations via water molecules, which then causes the particles to vibrate, propagating the heat energy.
Unfortunately, oil does not have water molecule in its structural composition. Therefore, the heat is transferred from the dish to the oil to heat up.
The dish is the only thing that gets heat up, but the heat does gradually pass to the oil. Hence, oil typically remains cold even after warming in a microwave.
The warming process should not be overdone. If heating is prolonged, then there is significant stress put on the dish and it may crack or explode due to thermodynamics between the hot container and cold oil.
Tips to microwave oil
Different types of oil require divergent precautions during the microwaving process. The following are some measures that need to be followed when microwaving oil:
- Stick to microwaving small amounts of oil at a time.
- Use a microwave safe container that can tolerate high heat.
- Glass and ceramic are better for microwaving oil rather than using plastic. Due to the high heat levels, the plastic may melt into the oil causing contamination of harmful chemicals.
- The microwave is heating the container, not the oil, therefore the dish may be extremely hot when handling.
- Make sure the dish is completely dry when microwaving oil. If a drop of water superheats under the layer of oil, then it will cause a dangerous explosion.
- Use 10-second heating intervals and stir the oil after each duration. This will disperse the heat from the container throughout the oil to gradually warm it up.
- Let the oil sit for a few minutes inside the microwave to prevent from exploding and transfer the heat throughout the oil.
Best way to microwave oil
Whenever you think of microwaving oil, the best way is to take a small quantity and put it in a microwaveable bowl. Set short durations of about 10 seconds and stir after each time period.
Allow the oil to sit a couple minutes in the microwave, and then use caution to remove the dish because it may be extremely hot.
Not every oil react the same, here are best way to microwave every types of oil:
- Coconut oil: Place the coconut oil in a microwave-safe container and heat for 10 seconds at a time and stir in between. Once it is melted, let it cool sightly and use in your cooking and baking recipe.
- Essential oil: The essential oils are a great tool to remove residue and smell when cleaning a microwave. Take a small amount of essential oil and sprinkle couple of drops onto a microwave safe dish. Set it low power for 30 seconds. Once the essential oil is heated up, use a towel to wipe the microwave inside out.
- Sesame oil: Sesame oil has a high smoke point around 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the highest compared to many other cooking oils. Though sesame oil can comfortably heat very high, the dish you are microwaving it isn may not, so be careful.
- Vegetable oil: To heat up vegetable oil in microwave, adjust the power to high and make sure it does not contain water. Use a microwave safe container with 10 second intervals and frequently stirring so it heat up evenly.
- Olive oil: With the low smoke point of all cooking oils, microwaving olive oil is much less common. You may be flavoring the oil or using it to microwave popcorn, but heating a small amount for a short time should be alright.
Microwaving Oil: Conclusion
Microwaving oil is somewhat safe and easy as long as you heat small amounts for a very short interval of time. The oil itself does not absorb microwaves, but instead the dish will heat up and act as a conductor to warm the oil.
Be aware that oil can get hot without creating steam evaporation, so it is hard to determine the temperature visually. In addition, the container is going to be extremely hot because it absorbs all the heat from the appliance.
With the correct power setting and timing, oil won’t explode in the microwave. Avoid to transfer heated oil in a cold container which can be dangerous, and do not overheat any oil as this can result fire hazard.
When microwaving oil, start with small amounts in a microwave safe container and limit the heating time to less than 15 seconds at a time. Use the timer to prevent from overheating and stir after each interval to distribute heat fro the container to the warm the oil.
And leave it the microwave for a few minutes to disperse the heat from the dish prior to usage.
Whether you are heating coconut oil for baking or essential oil for cleaning, make sure to stir often to even out the temperature to get the best result. Microwaving oil can be safe, but keep the length of time to a minimum and do not heat too much at once.