The low hum of a microwave oven gently spinning and that unmistakable beep is instantly recognisable by millions of people around the world. The microwave oven is a much-loved appliance and its speedy convenience has become an integral part of our fast-paced society. This is truly a scientific marvel but did you know that it was invented entirely by accident over 70 years ago?
A Gooey Eureka Moment
Our lucky inventor was Percy Spencer who joined the U.S navy and made himself an expert on radio technology. Years later, he worked on a government contract to develop combat radar equipment for the second world war. One fateful day Spencer was testing a radar magnetron when he discovered that his teatime snack had melted in his pocket – a candy bar had become a rather gooey mess! He and his colleagues then eagerly began experimenting with heating other food items including popcorn kernels which lead to the world’s first microwaved popcorn – still a hit today! It was only 20 years later in 1967 that a smaller microwave became commercially available and it quickly became a necessity for every kitchen. The microwave’s ability to heat food seems almost magical. Ever wondered how it heats food?
How a Microwave Works
Every microwave contains a magnetron which produces microwaves set at a specific frequency. These waves cause the water molecules within the food to agitate and generate heat and it is this heat that cooks the food. The microwaves only hit the water molecules that are in their path which is why the food needs to be rotated for more even heating. The waves simply pass through plastics, glass and ceramics making the microwave very energy efficient as it heats only the food. Metals, however, reflect the waves which is why the walls of a microwave are metallic to keep the microwaves inside the oven.
Microwave Care Tips
This indispensable appliance is often used day in and day out without even a second thought to it’s care and maintenance which has an impact on it’s longevity. Here are some good habits to prolong the lifespan of your microwave:
Keeping the inside of your microwave clean is more important than you may realise. Left over food splatters can get burnt in, turn to carbon and cause electrical sparking which can damage components. If you have stubborn marks, try heating a cup of water for a minute to produce steam that could make cleaning easier. Try to prevent spillage by covering your food with a simple paper towel while it is being heated.
Make Sure its Microwave Safe
Too often we don’t even stop to consider whether our container is actually safe to use. Materials that are not meant for use in a microwave can actually cause fires or even explosions so only use dishware that is considered microwave safe. Besides avoiding any metals, bear in mind that any container that comes out very hot should not be used for microwaving in future. Also, never switch on an empty microwave as the energy produced is not absorbed and can cause damage to parts which could then be costly to replace.
Be Kind to the Door
One of the top complaints repair technicians receive is a faulty door and this is often caused by careless slamming which wears out the complex latch mechanism. Yanking the door open while the microwave is running can result in a blown a fuse.
Don’t Try to Fix it Yourself
As with all appliances, parts may wear out and repairs or maintenance may be necessary but never attempt to repair an ailing microwave yourself. During operation these ovens use high voltages and can store large amounts of power, often even after the microwave has been unplugged, making them potentially very dangerous. Rather call in an experienced technician to see to any problems.
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