Microwaves have become one of the most convenient kitchen appliances because they make cooking and reheating food much easier. Using the appliance the right way is extremely important, here are tips to use a microwave safely to prevent and mishaps or microwave dangers.
How to use a microwave safely? Always place food on a microwave-safe containers and avoid lengthy cooking time if uncertain. Every microwave is slightly different, therefore it is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.
From fruit to vegetables and meat, microwaves make meal prep that much easier and more efficient. Still, you must use your microwave carefully to ensure your safety as well as the safety of the appliance and the surrounding environment.
In this write-up, we are going to discuss microwave safety tips and what can you and can’t microwave to help you understand clearly. Answered below are frequently asked questions about safety tips for using a microwave the right way.
Is a microwave safe?
Yes, a microwave is a safe, convenient and effective method to cook, melt, reheat, or defrost food. However, to knowing how to safely microwave each type of food is important as they are cooked in different time increments and power settings for best results.
Though there is no evidence that a microwave can be harmful while cooking or heating food in it. Some research has suggested that cooking in a microwave is a better method, rather than other traditional methods of cooking, as it prevents the formation of harmful chemical compounds in the food along with preserving its nutrients.
But you should avoid microwaving plastic or using containers that are not microwave-safe for cooking food in the microwave as they can release toxins that may be harmful to your health. As a result, glass and ceramic are the materials of choice for microwaving food safely.
Why you shouldn’t use a microwave?
You should not use a microwave because of some drawbacks listed here under.
Some of the downsides of using a microwave may include:
- Cooking in a microwave is not as effective as other methods of cooking when it comes to killing pathogens and bacteria which can cause food poisoning.
- Microwave do not heat food evenly due to short cooking time and low levels of direct heat.
- To heat food evenly, you will have to use a rotating turntable and stirring often until reaching the correct internal temperature.
- Heating liquids in a microwave can be quite dangerous as they can superheat and explode out of the container if overheated.
- Microwaving beverages or baby formula for small kids can be harmful to them as it can increase the risk of burn or blisters caused by hot spots, especially when microwaving in a baby bottle.
- Microwaved breast milk must be allowed to cool or mixed well before serving to an infant.
- Avoid using Tupperware or Ziploc containers in the microwave as they can release toxins into the food that can cause thyroid disorders, obesity, and even cancer.
What are the safety features of a microwave?
Modern microwaves have several safety features to meet the standards of the FDA. In fact, there are many safety features built into a microwave to increase food safety, prevent radiation leak, and reduce the risk of fire hazards.
Safety features of a microwave may include:
- The microwave should stop functioning if the door latch is open.
- It should be allowed to leak a minute amount of microwaves so that it cannot cause any harm.
- Stand away from the appliance as the gap of even a few feet can make it safer for you to operate the microwave.
- There is nothing to worry about as long as the hinges, seals, and latch of the microwave door are not damaged.
- Do not use a metal container, dish or utensil in a microwave as it will cause sparks that will not allow you to heat food properly. The microwave radiation will bounce off from the metal surface that may set fire to the appliance.
- Avoid any kind of plastic containers in a microwave whether it is microwave safe or not, even microwaving type 5 plastic can induce harmful chemicals into your food.
- Do not overheat foods in the microwave as it will dry up their water content and destroy the taste and texture.
- Use caution when microwaving certain foods as hot dogs may explode and carrots may catch on fire due to the high mineral content.
Is microwave radiation really safe?
Yes, it is really safe to use a microwave due to the reasons discussed below:
- Microwaves produce radiation, but it is non-ionizing, which is completely different than the radiation of nuclear and atomic bombs. Microwave produce electromagnetic non-ionizing radiation that does not have any negative effect, similar to the radiation produced by light waves or even your cell phone.
- It does not reduce the nutritional value of your food more than any other cooking method. Moreover, it helps in cooking food faster than other methods by controlling temperature more effectively.
- It reduces the formation of harmful compounds that are caused by aggressively cooking foods in extremely hot pans. However, it does not heat foods as much as they are heated in other cooking methods as it does not heat water based foods more than the boiling point of water, 100 degrees C or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. However, fatty foods like bacon and sugar based candies can be heated more than the boiling point of water due to its chemical composition.
Is it dangerous to sit in front of a microwave?
No, it is not dangerous to sit in front of a microwave. According to the FDA, the radiation of a microwave can rarely cause any injury.
Though it is not dangerous to sit in front of a microwave, still you must take some precautions while using it to ensure your safety. Though the radiation produced by a microwave is not as dangerous to your health as x-rays, that does not mean that they are free from any kind of risk.
A microwave heats food by vibrating the water molecules present inside. According to FDA, microwave radiation produced by a microwave oven can heat the tissues of your body same way that they heat the water molecules in food.
Though injuries of this type occur rarely, still they can cause cataracts and burns if the level of heat is very high. So to avoid any kind of injury from the microwave oven you must avoid sitting in front of it, especially while opening its door.
Exposure to a large amounts of radiation leaking from the seals of the door can be harmful to your health. 5 feet is a safe distance to maintain way from you microwave while it is operating.
Do and don’ts using microwave
There are some safe practices to maintain while operating a microwave. Follow these for food safety, your safety and the safety of others.
Here are some of the does and don’ts about using microwave:
- DO monitor your food while microwaving it to get the best results
- DO thaw meat with extra caution and use the defrost setting or 30% power level
- DO follow the manufacturer’s instructions while microwaving any meal
- DO set specific times to microwave different kinds of foods
- DO leave a gap while covering food to allow steam to vent
- DON’T be afraid if the hot food steams up or bubbles up
- DON’T allow the microwave to get too dirty, keep it clean
- DON’T leave your food uncovered while microwaving it
- DON’T put metal inside the microwave
- DON’T use containers that are not microwave-safe
Microwave covers are highly recommended when nuking food in the microwave, but a quick substitute could be microwaveable plastic wrap or using a damp paper towel over the top.
Microwave Safety Tips: Final Thoughts
Microwaves are a modern day kitchen appliance that has revolutionized cooking in many ways. With the incredible convenience comes a series of microwave safety tips that should be acknowledged along the way.
Food safety guidelines should always be followed to handle food the right way. Along the same lines, microwave safety is not something that is commonly discussed.
The best microwave safe containers are generally made from glass and ceramic. Even when labeled as microwave safe, plastic is not recommended as it may break, crack or warp, causing harmful chemicals to be leached into the hot food.
If the microwave is broken or not operating properly in any way, it should be completely discarded and no longer used for any functions. A crack in the window or broken door could cause microwave radiation to leak from the appliance.
Always keep and eye on your food while microwaving, especially when heating an item that you are unfamiliar with. Food heats up quickly, dries out and may completely burn.
It is recommended to cover food while it is being cooked in the microwave. Use a microwaveable lid to lock in the moisture and help to steam the food from underneath.
Always operate with caution and do not set it and forget it. Be sure to continuously check on your food so that it heats up safely.
There you have it, microwave safety tips that will ensure you have success every time you use the kitchen appliance. Convenience is a luxury, especially when you can avoid any potential safety mishaps.