Microwaves are a versatile appliance that is nowadays a necessity in all homes. A multitude of dishes can be cooked inside this cuboid and that is what makes this a very convenient appliance to have.
But have you ever stopped to consider what range of temperature is considered safe in microwaves?
It is more or less common knowledge that a microwave makes use of electromagnetic waves to heat food using the three main components of the machine, namely the magnetron, the waveguide, and the cavity.
The magnetron is responsible for converting electricity into electromagnetic microwaves while the waveguide directs these waves towards the cavity where you put your food.
A microwave oven manipulates the water molecules inside food components to start vibrating which in turn generates heat that cooks the food or warms it up. Therefore, it is quite natural to wonder how hot a microwave can get.
There is plenty of misinformation regarding this topic, so the objective of this article is to address those concerns thoroughly. Read on to know more.
How Hot Does A Microwave Get?
Solid or Liquid food is often cooked or warmed in a microwave oven and a lot of heat is generated in the process. Now the question of how hot can microwave oven temperatures reach depends on the make and build of the oven, the wattage, and the type of food being cooked among other factors.
However, a simple blanket answer to the mentioned query is this – the temperature of any food or water being cooked or heated in a microwave generally does not get any hotter than the boiling point of water which is 100 degrees Celcius or 212 Fahrenheit.
Because after this point, the water present in the food starts evaporating away and the solid part starts becoming dry and flaky making it unsuitable for consumption. As for liquids or foods like stews that have more liquid content cannot be eaten unless there is enough liquid in them.
What Is the Highest Temperature a Microwave Can Reach?
If we consider the above information then it is clear that the maximum temperature that most microwaves can reach is 100 degrees Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit. However, this is the limit for 1000 Watt microwaves that are sold in most households.
But some microwaves sold for commercial purposes can be wired to consume as much as 7000 Watts which also increases its maximum temperature.
These heavy-duty microwaves are usually meant for restaurants and such places that make large amounts of food within a limited time and the highest temperature these can reach is 250 degrees Celcius or 482 Fahrenheit.
However, this temperature is not needed for cooking and is only reached when water gets Superheated. This means that the microwave’s high wattage allows the water to heat past its boiling point without blowing the fuse.
Water can only be superheated if it is pure, stored in a smooth container with no scratches or cracks, and liquid is left completely undisturbed during the process of heating. To avoid such a thing happening, a wooden spoon or spatula can be left inside the container which will disturb the water’s surface and won’t let it boil past 100 degrees Celsius.
Microwave Temperature Chart
Below is a line graph that shows the correlation between Temperature, Time, and Moisture Content. It is clearly shown that with an increase in Time, there is an increase in Temperature.
However, the line depicting the Moisture Content suffers a steep decline which basically means that the level of Moisture decreases with an increase in the Time and Temperature of Microwave oven.
Can a Microwave Get Too Hot and Shut Off?
Yes, a microwave oven can get too hot and shut down on its own. If the food present inside the cavity is being reheated then chances are it already has very little moisture. This leads to the food heating up very quickly.
The magnetron can get too hot and as there is no way for the heat to dissipate, an an-automatic shutdown procedure is initiated and the power supply to the microwave oven is cut off.
In more technical terms, the overheating of the high-voltage magnetron leads to the thermal cut-out switch being activated to save the microwave oven from short-circuiting. Once the unit cools down, the thermal cut-out automatically resets and the oven can be used again as usual.
What Does A Microwave Do When It Gets Too Hot?
If the microwave temperature reaches an extreme high, then it can cause a real disaster if not handled carefully. The food inside may get burnt and the oven may even catch on fire.
But these are all rare situations and do not always happen as there are safety mechanisms in place that allow the microwave to take action on its own to deal with the high heat inside it.
Here is a list of things that can happen to a microwave when it has activated the safety mode:
- The Microwave activates thermal cut-off mode and shuts down.
- The fan turns on to cool down the unit.
- The door automatically locks to prevent you from opening the door while the fan is on.
- The display flashes with a warning message that also lets you know that the microwave is in safety mode.
- The beeper goes off periodically to let you know that the oven is still cooling down.
In the meanwhile, even if your food is inside and you can smell smoke then do not try to forcefully open the door and just let the microwave do its thing.
How To Gauge The Temperature Of Microwave?
There are plenty of ways to gauge the microwave temperature. Here are a few most convenient ones:
- Check the wattage of the microwave oven as the maximum temperature depends on the wattage.
- Read the instruction manual thoroughly as the required time and power setting for cooking different foods can be found there.
- Try to reheat food in the power setting designated for that purpose. If there is none, use the “defrost” option.
- Find out what temperature is needed for the food to be cooked properly and use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food to avoid overheating.
- Make use of microwave-compatible devices such as Thermocouples, Current source Transducers, and Infrared Transducers, to prevent the microwave from overheating.
There it is, these are the easiest ways to gauge the temperature of your microwave.
What Affects the Temperature in a Microwave?
Several factors are responsible for the temperature level in a microwave. They have been listed below:
A potato will heat up more than a piece of bread in the microwave because the potato has more water content and thus more water molecules can be manipulated by the microwaves. Therefore, food with more water will get much hotter than food with less water content.
The more dense a food is, the hotter it will remain and affect the microwave temperature. Food such as meats will thus raise the temperature far more than things like noodles or a slice of cheese.
Shape and Size
Food that has an uneven surface needs more time to heat up because the heat is not disturbed evenly leaving some cold pockets. However, heating something with a smooth surface is quicker and needs lesser effort from the microwave.
Similarly, a smaller food portion will take much less time to heat up than a much larger portion of food.
Temperature of Food
The beginning temperature of the food affects the microwave temperature significantly. Cooking a frozen pizza will consume more power and time than if it was left out in the air to defrost naturally.
A higher wattage is essentially a green pass for the microwave to draw more power and generate more heat. So a microwave with a high wattage will heat more than one with lower wattage.
Time and Power Setting
The combination of time and power settings plays a significant role in determining the microwave temperature. If you set up the oven to cook something at a very high temperature for a long while, then the amount of heat generated will be very high. But there is usually no reason to worry as all microwaves are equipped to deal with very high temperatures.
How To Prevent Microwaves From Getting Too Hot?
Uncontrolled overheating of the microwave can cause serious disasters such as electrical fires, burns, and even explosions. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you are taking steps to prevent overheating.
Clean The Microwave Regularly
Run a damp cloth or sponge after cooking/heating foods that spill inside the cavity. If allowed to dry there, the food can cause a fire hazard or even trigger a foul odor.
Ensure Enough Ventilation
Refrain from placing a microwave in enclosed spaces as this obstructs the outflow of the hot air that is needed for the machine to cool down. Make sure the vents of the microwave are kept open and not covered up at all times.
User Proper Microwave Settings
Ensure that you are using the correct time and power setting while cooking different food as all of them have different requirements. If the incorrect setting is entered, the microwave not only overheats but the food may also get burnt and inedible.
Use Microwave-friendly Containers
Only use microwave-safe materials when cooking food using a microwave oven. These include thick glass such as BOROSIL, Ceramic, certain types of plastic, and paper. Avoid using metallic utensils, foil, or styrofoam as they may cause sparks inside the microwave leading to a fire.
Take Immediate Precaution
If you smell something smokey after turning on the microwave then immediately unplug it and cut off the power supply. This will completely snub out any chance of a fire hazard.
It is a known fact that heat is corrosive and that is why any machine or appliance using heat as its primary operating mechanism should be handled with care. Microwaves are an incredible boon of science and will serve you well when used properly.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand how microwave temperatures work and to what extent they can be considered safe in a microwave oven. And if you are worried about your machine overheating, then take the mentioned precautions and see if the problem persists. If it does then call for professional help. It never hurts to be too careful.
Hope this helps!