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From the time they started working and heating up in homes in the 1970s, microwave ovens changed people’s lives forever. Microwaves have sped up the process of cooking and reheating meals, saving time and increasing the likelihood of choosing leisure over work. They are the sprinter to the cross-country runner of the conventional oven. From the beginning, the microwave’s workings were a mystery.


Instead of heating the air and everything in its vicinity through conduction from a flame, as was the norm, it appears to be a magical metal box that spins and heats food invisibly. Additionally, microwave users came to accept the technology’s odd rules: no metal, no meltable plastics, and mix to equally cook. So, what exactly is the microwave’s secret?
Surprise, microwaves—a type of energy—are used in microwave ovens to cook food. These electromagnetic waves, which are between radio waves, which have a longer wavelength, and infrared waves, which are shorter, are invisible to the human eye.


A magnetron is a device inside a microwave that sends electrical energy from a power outlet to a heated filament. This causes an electron flow that then sends microwaves through an antenna into the cooking chamber. By becoming lodged in water, sugars, and fats, microwaves cook food through radiation. heating—exciting molecules within an object. The outsides of thicker foods are heated by microwaves, and the insides are then heated by the conductive transfer of heat from the outsides because the microwaves can only travel so far into an object before losing momentum.

With these mechanics, how then do the conventional microwave rules make sense? Because some plastics can absorb microwave energy in the same way that food does, they are more likely to melt, dissolve, and contaminate the food that is cooked on or in them. Metal blocks the movement of microwave waves inside ovens because it reflects them. Additionally, spreading the heat throughout food—at least food that can be stirred—ensures that the inside as well as the outside of the dish are cooked.

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