Sysadmin's Shouts!

a blog for sysadmin's rants and raves…

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What?: Spoons in the Microwave???

Well, usually I write about computer technology, however I have seen so many times a common mistake regarding microwave use, that feel that I just must spread the word… ;o)

Usually, when we want to heat up a liquid like a coffee, water to make a tea, some soup, etc. we just put it in a glass or a bowl inside the microwave, and just start the microwave for a couple of minutes.


However, this can be a dangerous practice. Why?

Because when we heat up a liquid in the microwave, it can reach a temperature above it’s boiling point too quick,  and it just might no be visible to us. The liquid then becomes what is called an “overheated or superheated liquid”.

If an overheated liquid gets then disturbed, portions of that liquid may turn to boil or steam, causing it to splash or even explode and give you a nasty burn in the process.

So, how do we correctly heat up a cup/bowl/glass with a liquid inside it on the microwave?

-Just put in a metal spoon in the recipient along with the liquid.

The metal on the spoon will act as a heat dissipator, and distribute more evenly the heat within the liquid, preventing its overheating.


When I tell my friends about introducing a metal spoon in the microwave, it always causes a nice argument to discuss as we all usually think that inserting a metal in a microwave is wrong.

Well, really a spoon is OK, but a fork is not… What?

-Yes it’s true, and that’s because forks can cause arcing of electrons between the tips of the fork,  but spoons do not as the round shape acts as a parabolic antenna and spreads charge.  Weird uh?

The argument its easily proven by reading the microwave’s manual (yes: RTFM -Read The Fine Manual-).  It’s also true that I’ve read some microwave manuals that advice against using any metal inside the microwave, but as long as we only use spoons on liquids, we should be more than fine.

In my microwave, it’s very easy to remember, as it has a nice sticker when you open the front door with the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding NOT to heat up liquids in a glass without a spoon in it, which is the following (you might even have it on your microwave, but never took any notice of it):
Also notice that the liquid will heat up better, faster and more evenly due to the metal’s ability to conduct the  heat better than liquids.

However using wooden or plastic spoons, will also help to spread the heat, just in case you’re not quite sure to try a metal one ;o)

Another way to avoid overheated food explosions, is to let the food in the microwave to stand for a minute before bringing it out of it.