Did you know that 9 out of 10 homes in the United States have microwaves? Because we are always on the go, we are not often left with much time to cook when we get home. Many Americans often work late nights and are simply too tired to cook a full meal. The fastest option that comes to mind is grabbing something from the fridge and popping it in the microwave. Within minutes, you have a hot meal readily prepared after putting in the least effort possible.
But as convenient as these appliances can be, remember that they can be extremely dangerous to your health, safety, and home if used improperly. Prolonging cleaning, using the wrong materials, and overheating or exploding food within the machine can also cause significant damage. But when used properly, they can be extremely safe to use. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when using the microwave.
Never Boil Water in the Microwave
No matter the power setting or amount of time the microwave is heating the water, it will never boil. When it is heated in a glass or ceramic cup or bowl, the materials prevent the bubbles from forming, causing the water to heat past its boiling point.
The water can then erupt out of the cup or bowl when moved, scalding your hands in the process. Depending on the temperature, the can cause either first, second, water even third-degree burns.
You can still heat water in the microwave, just keep the power on a low setting and cooking time under a minute. You can also stick a wooden spoon in the water for transferring the heat when cooking.
Microwaves Can be Unsafe by Cooking Unevenly
While cooking food in the microwave will not generally hurt the machine, it is dangerous for your health to cook raw meat. Because the appliance cooks the food unevenly, some parts will be hot and others still cold, leaving harmful bacteria in the food.
Except for thawing out frozen foods, it is highly recommended to cook raw meat either on the stove or the grill. It will also taste better.
Do Not Put Metal in the Microwave
While metals do not get hot in the microwave, the waves reflect off the surface and back into the machine. It won’t harm the dish, but it can destroy the microwave and even cause a fire.
But this is not to be confused with thin metal sheets, such as aluminum foil. When heated, the material acts as an antenna, causing the microwaves to arc off and send sparks flying. It can also severely damage the machine and cause a fire.
Safe Materials to Use in the Microwave
Glass and ceramics will absorb the waves and heat up with the food. Just be careful and use a hot pad when taking them out.
Be careful with using plastics as only some are labeled “microwave safe,” like the trays used for microwave dinners. Just keep in mind that they are only intended for a single use. But avoid using tubs from yogurt, butter, and margarine, as well as plastic, grocery and storage bags, and takeout containers. These can all melt, warp, seep chemicals into the food, and even burn you.
The same goes for paper materials. Parchment and wax paper, paper plates, paper towels, and oven cooking bags are safe to use, but not brown bags, newspaper, or recycled paper.
How to Know if a Dish is Safe for the Microwave
While most companies that label dishes “microwave safe” are right in that they are safe to use, they are not inspected by the government. The best way to be sure is to empty the container, put it in the microwave with a glass dish with a cup of water, and cook on high for one minute.
If the material stays cool, it is safe to use but keep in mind that it will absorb the heat from the food while it is cooking. Don’t forget your hot pads!
Unsafe Foods for Cooking in the Microwave
While the majority of foods are safe to cook in the microwave, there is a limit as to what you can use. Both carrots and hot dogs can spark and explode while cooking, damaging the machine and possibly even ca
using a fire.
Be careful when cooking foods with skins and shells as they can explode from the water expanding and bursting inside them. Before cooking, prick holes in the skin of potatoes, cut squash into smaller pieces, and take the eggs out of their shells. Also pierce the plastic wrap when microwaving frozen packaged foods.
Energy Efficiency with Microwaves
While microwaves indeed use energy to cook food, the amount consumed is considerably less when compared to using ovens and stoves. This is because they quickly heat the food and not the air. While the results will differ somewhat, using the microwave is the most green and cost-effective option in the end.
Microwaves Do Not Leak from the Oven
While there is an old myth that microwaves used to leaks radiation that can increase the risk of cancer, they must pass all government safety regulations before being released into the market. It is possible that tiny amounts of leakage can occur; however, they are nowhere near powerful enough to cause harm. If you really want to be safe, just stand back a few feet and ensure that the door hinges, seals, and latches are in good condition. Overall, you shouldn’t have to worry.
Microwave Cooking and Destroying Nutrients
It is true that microwaving food can destroy some nutrients within food, but then again, so do all forms of cooking. In fact, microwavin
g food is the least destructive form because they cook fast and keep the nutrients in place. When boiling, the nutrients are lost in the water and when baking, long cooking times will kill all nutrients.
In the Case of a Fire from the Microwave
It is always best to be prepared in the event of a microwave fire by keeping a fire extinguisher in a place that is easily accessible. Storing it in a kitchen cabinet or pantry would be the best places.
Also keep emergency contact numbers on hand at all times, including the hospital, fire department, and emergency fire damage restoration services.
Calling for Additional Help
In the event that you have any microwave fire emergency, calling for emergency restoration services is crucial for protecting your health and returning your building materials to their original condition. In addition, this will prevent the soot and smoke residue from spreading further and affecting additional surfaces.
When looking for a fire restoration company, contact your local ServiceMaster. Not only are they trusted for being professional and efficient, they have an impeccable response time. Available 24/7 whenever you need them, these professionals will begin working right away, addressing the most heavily damaged surfaces first. With commercial cleaning products and equipment, you can be sure that your property will be returned to its original condition in no time.