How do microwave ovens cook food?
How do microwave ovens cook food? Ask Smithsonian (
How do microwave ovens cook food?
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Here's a hint it's in the name of the machine, and it's not the word oven. Microwave ovens use microwaves. This spectrum ranges from radio waves and microwaves, to infra-red, visible light, ultraviolet, and x-rays.

Now when you press start on your microwave oven, it fires a blast of microwaves at your food. The energy in the microwaves excites water molecules in the food. The excited water molecules vibrate back and forth producing heat. And this heat cooks your food.

The great thing about microwaves is that they are at the right frequency to excite water molecules, but don't vibrate things like metal or plastic. Which is a good thing, because who wants to eat cooked plastic?

Critical thinking challenge: What else moves back and forth to produce heat? What is the name of that force that produces heat?

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Assigned 102 times

  • blakej-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 02:57 p.m.

    Your hand make back and forth to make friction fraction makes heat friction is when your hands rub and it makes heat like a micro wave

  • zakerial-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 03:46 p.m.

    Molecules move back and forth. While multiple forces produce heat such as Radio Waves, Infra-Red, Visible Light, Ultraviolet, and X-Rays. Molecules have a job in making heat also.

  • PJS-3
    5/14/2014 - 04:33 p.m.

    This article is about microwaves. When microwave ovens cook food, it sends out microwaves. The microwave spectrum has x-rays, ultraviolet, visible light, infra-red, microwaves, and radio waves. Microwaves are shot at the food when the oven is turned on. Heat is produced when the water molecules vibrate back and forth. I thought this article contained very useful information and it could be helpful for people who want to know how microwave ovens work.

  • jacquelineh-5
    5/14/2014 - 04:39 p.m.

    This article states how microwaves work or how they heat up your food when you put it in the microwave. The microwave uses many different types of rays including, infra-red, x-rays, ultraviolet, and visible light rays. Microwaves only heat up or excite water molecules in the food using the right frequency. I found this article very interesting and it gave me a lot of information that I did not know before. It is a great article for people who are planning on becoming a microwave builder or repairer.

  • marvellh-Orv
    5/14/2014 - 04:41 p.m.

    This is a good article because i didn't know this stuff about microwaves and its cool to know this type of stuff because i use a microwave sometimes and always wondered how it coocked our food

  • KateL-4
    5/14/2014 - 04:45 p.m.

    People often wonder how microwaves cook food. It doesn't have to do with ovens, but microwaves. Microwaves use radio waves, microwaves, x-rays, etc. When you start the microwave water molecules bounce around creating heat, and cooking your food. Microwaves are an easy way to cook food quickly. I thought this article was very interesting. I learned a lot and it kept me interested throughout the whole article.

  • JaySwag33
    5/14/2014 - 06:52 p.m.

    this is cool but i feel like i will get cancer next time i try to eat my hot pockets... And what about when you open it the rays have to go some were so whats that either in your food or straight at you?

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    5/14/2014 - 07:14 p.m.

    I think that it is amazing that someone was able to build a microwave. I think that no one would have thought of such an amazing invention. I also think that microwaves are spectacular because microwaves can emit waves that can excite water inside food. The waves are called infra-red, visible light, ultraviolet, and x-rays.
    Critical thinking challenge: What else moves back and forth to produce heat? What is the name of that force that produces heat?
    Answer: Electricity can produce heat.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    5/14/2014 - 08:12 p.m.

    I think this is pretty cool because you get to see how microwaves cook your food when it needs to be cooked or defrosted. I wonder how the microwaves store the microwaves so it can shoot the microwaves at the food. I think science teachers should teach students on how microwaves operate because it gives the students a chance to see things they never get to see.
    Critical thinking challenge: What else moves back and forth to produce heat? What is the name of that force that produces heat?
    Answer: Your hands rub against each other to produce heat. The name of the force is friction.

  • SeaAli
    5/14/2014 - 08:34 p.m.

    This is really cool. I just wish I could take my food out of the microwave and the food would be burning, not the PLATE. My microwave warms up my plate or bowl more than the actual food I put in it.I knew that the microwaves vibrated food and warmed it up. I never knew that microwaves were actually blasted at your food. I also found it interesting that microwaves have to be at the right frequency to vibrate only the food.

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