These common household items could put you in serious danger if you put them in the microwave. Some of them even have the chance to burn down your entire house.
It’s very easy to forget the long list of things you shouldn’t put in the microwave. There are the basics like most plastic or any metal, but there are also a huge number that are still a really bad idea to ever microwave. This list will cover a few that you might not have heard but will likely have in your house.
You need to put things in microwaves for them to work properly. Microwaves are designed to heat something up using microwave radiation. If they don’t have food or your morning coffee, they will heat up something…itself. In fact, if you let a microwave run for even just a few minutes without anything in it, you could end up burning your entire house down. This happens more than you think as people assume it’s just like your conventional oven’s cleaning setting.
Ideally, after a few minutes of running without anything in it, there will be a fuse that pops so that your potential disaster will only be a couple hundred dollars for a new microwave. But if that malfunctions or doesn’t exist, then what happens is astounding. Over time it will create a superheated pocket somewhere in the microwave. That pocket can be hot enough to turn porcelain into a liquid. This happens on the low-end at 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Suffice it to say, this is a pretty substantial fire hazard.
Be very careful if you are trying to heat up food that has lots of spicy peppers in it. The capsaicin in peppers can be vaporized by the temperatures in a microwave. Capsaicin is the compound in peppers that make them spicy. Interestingly, it is also used in things like pepper spray to cause unbelievable pain for anyone on the receiving end of its spicy fury. So if you end up microwaving these peppers, especially if you microwave them by themselves, they can vaporize the capsaicin and as soon as you open the door you are effectively treated to an undeserved pepper spraying at the hands of your leftovers.
Why anyone would want to microwave a grape is beyond me, but apparently it has happened enough times to be worthy of a specific guideline. The membrane covering grapes is strong enough to create a very good seal around the fleshy parts of the grape. As microwaves like to use the water inside of things to heat them up with microwave radiation, the grapes can get incredibly hot very quickly as they are full of water. They are also about ¼ the length of the microwave radiation’s wavelength and as so they act as a sort of antenna, amplifying the heating effect. When coupled with that strong membrane, you have effectively created a little flaming ball of plasma. Actually plasma…it gets hot enough to turn into plasma, the fourth state of matter.
Though it is typically fine to have paper products in the microwave, there are some exceptions. Paper lunch bags or take-out containers often have wax lining or other chemicals inside of them to keep them resistant to water or keep their shape. When microwaved, this can leech some serious toxins into your food. It likely won’t be enough to harm you immediately without a particular sensitivity to them, but it is often best to assume that prolonged ingestion of toxins is something to be avoided.
This one is by far the most unbelievable one. Processed meat, think hot dogs etc, really should never be microwaved. The problem is that processed meats are pumped full of preservatives, which are never really great for you. However, they are particularly bad if they get really hot in many cases. In particular, these preservatives, when microwaved especially, can form something called cholesterol oxidation products commonly called COPs. These have been heavily linked to coronary heart disease, just ask your cardiologist. Luckily there are myriad ways to heat up things like hot dogs in no time without risking your long-term health.