What not to microwave

burning microwaveThe humble microwave oven is the epitome of modern day kitchen convenience, efficiency and reliability – just as long as you don’t blow it up.

Most homes have one, and most people know how to operate them properly, yet incredibly 1 in 10 respondents to a Canstar Blue survey admitted to having accidentally destroyed a microwave with something made of metal. And more remarkable still, that number rose to 1 in 5 of those in Generation Y.

Young Australians might be the most tech-savvy when it comes to some things, but when it comes to microwaves it seems they still have a lot to learn fr
om their elders, as just 4% of Baby Boomers owned up to blowing up their appliance.

Microwave ovens have become an essential kitchen item for most Australian households, with 69% of respondents to our survey declaring that they simply couldn’t imagine life without one. And three quarters also said they use their microwave every day.

In fact more than a third of those we questioned admitted they always use their microwave instead of their oven.

Indeed microwave ovens and frozen meals have become a marriage made in heaven for those who aren’t the most accomplished of cooks, or those who simply prefer the convenience of having their dinner ready after just a quick ‘nuke’. More than half of the 706 Aussies we surveyed said they eat meals cooked in their microwave more than once a week.

Ranging in price from as little as $60 up to around $1,000 for a top-of-the-range model, microwaves are not only ideal for cooking and reheating food, but many Aussies are also finding other imaginative ways to get the maximum value for money from theirs.

More than a third of those we spoke to said their microwave was used for something other than cooking or reheating food, with sanitising kitchen equipment at the top of the list, closely followed by cleaning dishcloths and even drying clothes. Just make sure you take your belt with the metal buckle off your pants first!

And just to be safe, here are a few things you should never put in your microwave.

Lunch bags: Keep all paper bags and newspapers out of the microwave. Paper and heat aren’t the best of buddies and the two together could cause a fire.

Yoghurt containers: Anything plastic is another serious no no, including things like yoghurt or margarine containers which are likely to melt in the microwave. The same goes for styrofoam containers.

Travel mugs: If yours is made from stainless steel, don’t even think about closing that door. If you haven’t got it already, metal doesn’t play nice in the microwave, and that includes aluminium foil.

Fruit: It may seem harmless, but some fruits – including grapes – can’t withstand the heat and are likely to explode, while raisins will smoke. And avoid putting hot peppers in the microwave as the chemicals released from them will sting your eyes and burn your throat when you open the door. Oh, and really hot ones could catch on fire.

Nothing: Turn on your microwave with nothing inside to heat and it will simply self-destruct. With nothing to absorb the microwaves, the magnetron — the thing that makes the microwave function – ends up absorbing the microwaves and the outcome won’t be pretty.

To find out which microwave brands consumers like the most, check out our star ratings.

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