How do microwave ovens work?« Back to Questions List

Most of us make use of microwave oven to heat or cook food items. It must be interesting to learn how the microwaves help cook food. Microwaves are electromagnetic radiations that are present between the radio waves and the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These waves have the property of penetrating water, fat and sugar molecules. They do not penetrate glass, plastic, paper or metal. That is why metal walls are found on all sides of oven so that they reflect microwaves back from all the sides.


microwave                                                                         microwave1



The source of the microwave radiation inside the oven is a device called a magnetron. The waves penetrate the food and excite the molecules. The ability of microwaves to get absorbed by water, fat, sugar molecules excites the molecules. When a molecule is excited, the electrons jump from one energy level to another. When this happens, each individual molecule of water starts to vibrate faster. This fast movement of atoms produces friction. When friction is produced, energy is given out in the form of heat. This heat is used to cook food. To summarize, microwave oven generates electromagnetic waves called microwaves which makes water move. This motion leads to friction, and friction leads to heating.



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