The Microwave has been a marvellous invention! Aside from time-saving cooking, this appliance can practically do anything from grilling to defrosting. However, there are some limitations. Microwave hazards can occur when using the wrong material or heating up the wrong food inside.



Aluminum Foil

The most commonly-used household item you should NEVER put in the microwave is aluminum foil. It’s essentially very thin metal which, when exposed to microwave radiation, will reflect the energy instead of absorbing it. This, in turn, can create sparks that could ruin the appliance, or worse, start a fire.

Anything with Metal or Stainless Steel

Plates with shiny metal rims and stainless-steel travel mugs can also cause a fire if put inside a microwave. Moreover, these vessels will prevent your food and beverage from warming up because, as with aluminum foil, the metal will bounce the heat from the microwave instead of allowing your food to absorb it.

Single-Use Plastic

Plastic bags and containers like yogurt tubs should never be microwaved because they may contain bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA. These materials can easily melt inside the appliance releasing BPA into your food which research has linked to a variety of health issues.

Takeout Containers

Some restaurant takeout containers tend to have a metal rim and are sometimes lined with plastic materials. To be sure, always check for the microwave safe sign which usually looks like a box with squiggly lines in the middle. Containers labeled #5, which are made using polypropylene (or PP), are also generally considered microwave-safe.


Styrofoam (a.k.a. polystyrene foam) isn’t just bad for the environment, it also melts quickly if exposed to radiation. Much like plastic, this can release dangerous chemicals into your food and potentially cause long term illnesses.


Microwave ovens are generally safe when used correctly. But people have experienced burns, and in rare cases, other injuries from microwave radiation, particularly in cases involving improper use or maintenance. Therefore, always use your oven properly and maintain it as recommended by the user manual.

First, know that microwaves—the actual waves produced by these ovens—are a type of electromagnetic radiation. These waves cause water molecules in food to vibrate. These vibrations, in turn, produce the heat that cooks food.

The waves are produced by a vacuum tube within the oven called a magnetron. They are reflected within the oven’s metal interior; can pass through glass, paper, plastic, and similar materials; and are absorbed by food. Microwaves are a kind of non-ionizing radiation. They do not have the same risks as x-rays or other types of ionizing radiation.

microwave hazard popcorn


Most injuries related to microwave ovens are the result of heat-related burns from hot containers, overheated foods, or exploding liquids.

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s heating instructions.
  • Microwave-safe dishes that also allows steam to escape should always be used.
  • Allow food to rest before removing from the microwave. If something is left to heat in the microwave for several minutes (like a potato that is cooked for 5 minutes), wait a few moments and use an oven mitt to lift the food out. 
  • DO NOT super-heat water to beyond boiling point. Microwaves can heat water without it ever boiling at all. a slight disturbance or movement may cause the water to violently explode out of the cup.
  • Certain foods and liquids heat unevenly. If warmed uncovered, they can spit and splatter all over the appliance. Thick consistencies can trap the steam until it explodes.
  • Steam from a microwaved bag of popcorn can reach up to 82˚C. Wait at least 1min before opening the bag. When opening, do so away from your face and hands.
  • Confirm that the door shuts tightly. Don’t use the microwave if its turntable rotates and the exhaust fan runs while the door remains open, this is not how it was built to work. Call a professional to have a look at it or replace it.
  • DO NOT switch on an empty microwave. If there is nothing inside, it might destroy the unit’s magnetron or start a fire. Microwaves do not need to be preheated before cooking.
  • Do not cover the vent of microwave at the top when it is in use: Also do not cover any part of the microwave with  metal foil. This can lead to over heating of the appliance and may even risk a fire.
  • If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off or unplug it immediately so that the fan stops and the fire is suffocated. Never open the oven door until you are absolutely certain that the fire is out.


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