The Real Reason Why You Can’t Run Your Microwave Empty

Run a Microwave Empty

A microwave heats and cooks food on the inside using tiny, high-powered radio waves. Aside from this, you can cook immediately without waiting for the oven to heat to a high temperature first.

Not only does this save you from time-consuming tasks, but it also saves you from high energy bills!

Why can’t you run a microwave empty? A microwave uses a magnetron tube that produces electromagnetic radio waves that vibrate water molecules and heat food. Running it empty will force the waves in the machine to redirect into the magnetron and cause damage.

The microwave helps you with your daily food tasks—running it empty does nothing but damage it. Read this article to learn how it works and the things you should not do with it.

How a Microwave Oven Works

It works by transmitting electromagnetic waves at a frequency of 2.24GHz and a wavelength of 12.2cm by food.

This, in turn, allows the water molecules in the food to vibrate, and the subsequent contact with other water molecules causes the food to heat up. This is how food heats in a microwave from the inside.

Frozen food and dried food cannot heat as quickly for the same reason. Frozen moisture and moisture-free artifacts do not react rapidly or evenly to microwave radiation.

To ensure the food is cooked more evenly, many microwave ovens have a revolving plate to turn the food around while cooking.

The magnetron produces microwaves that pass through the cooking chamber and should be absorbed. When there is no food or any water-containing food, these microwaves will not be consumed.

After a while, they will inevitably make their way back to the magnetron.

Eventually, the magnetron absorbs as many microwaves as it emits. This is difficult for the magnetron, which operates well if too little radiation is flowing back. That is why you are never allowed to run an empty microwave.

No Magnetron, No Microwaves

It is highly discouraged to run your microwave empty because this can destroy the magnetron and damage the machine.

Without a magnetron, the microwave can no longer cook the food as it should because it can no longer heat. If the magnetron fails, you will need to fix or replace the microwave.

Safety Tips for Microwave Ovens

  • Never operate a microwave oven when the door has damage or if you have any problems closing it.
  • Please do not place any metal objects inside the oven unless they are specially designed for microwaves.
  • Always use protective mitts. Always handle any liquid heated inside your microwave.

Things You Should Never Do With Your Microwave

The function of a microwave is to defrost, heat, and cook your food. However, that does not mean all foods are acceptable. Like any other thing, a microwave has its limitations and safety precautions.

Drying Clothing

Putting your clothes in the microwave is never a safe idea. Instead of drying out the moisture in your clothing, a microwave can make the water extremely hot!

You could burn yourself and damage the fabric or even set it on fire. Essentially, this is a terrible idea all the way around!

Using Dishes With Hidden Metal

You already know that you shouldn’t place metal in your microwave, as it can damage the magnetron and even spark a fire. However, certain plates and containers can contain metal in less apparent ways.

Metallic paint on dishes may be troublesome, and certain containers can have brass handles or foil liners.

Warming Breast Milk

The drawback of using your microwave to heat your breast milk is the potential for uneven heating. Hot spots can form in the milk when microwaved and burn the mouth of an infant.

Cooking Eggs in the Shell

Microwaving something with a close skin or shell puts you in a dangerous situation. When the microwaves carry out the ignition of moisture within these foods, steam begins to build up.

Pressure will build to the point that food explodes and creates a mess. I am sure that is not something you want to clean up.

Heating Leftovers in Carryout Containers

Some plastic items contain chemicals such as BPA that can leak into food when heated. Animal experiments indicate that exposure to high levels of these chemicals may have a toxic effect.

I know people can sometimes be lazy and throw their take-outs straight into the microwave, but I strongly discourage this.

Using Ceramic Dishes

Although certain ceramic dishes are perfectly safe to use in your microwave, not all of them are. Low-fired ceramics maintain some of the brittle qualities of clay, which means they can absorb moisture.

This becomes troublesome in a microwave, where the moisture will heat up and eventually shatter the plate.

Heating Raisins

Some recipes ask for raisins to be softened before they are used. But tossing a bunch of raisins into your microwave isn’t the way to do it! Raisins are potentially going to smoke in your oven, and they might also catch fire.

Heating Packaged Food

Microwave food only inside its packaging when the package explicitly specifies that you can do so. Do not reuse the packaging. Also, poke holes in the box to allow steam to escape.

Cooking Hot Peppers

Peppers can burst when they’re heated quickly. Hot peppers are much more dangerous to the microwave because of the spicy chemical they contain, called capsaicin.

Capsaicin is explosive and can quickly become airborne, making a microwave hot pepper blast into a homemade pepper spray tragedy. It will trigger a burning feeling in your eyes, and your nose will not easily forget it!

Boiling Water

You may have learned about the dangers of superheated water. This effect will arise when clean water is heated in a microwave in a very clean cup.

Superheated water does not exhibit any heating signs but releases the accumulated heat if it is interrupted or transferred. Accidentally superheating water is uncommon but most likely to occur when distilled water is used.


Although it’s unlikely that someone will run an empty microwave on purpose, it might happen inadvertently! If this happens, the magnetron may burn out.

When a microwave is broken due to a burnt-out magnetron, any repair is impossible.

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