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[Phys-L] Re: metal in microwave oven?

Anthony, I believe it's a "Don't ask, Don't tell" kinda thing. Like you, I
was always told that metal in a microwave was a menu for disaster, or at
least some late-night fun. However, while attending a physics teacher thing
at Rutgers Univ in the early 80's, I found out different.

Early manufacturers had a near impossible task of educating the common
consumer to the use of this new-fangled microwave oven. Metal CAN be used IF
AND ONLY IF you know how to do it. They decided, long ago, to just warn
people NOT to use metal in the ovens rather than face the law-suits from
folks who couldn't follow directions and actually obtain the proper sizes
and types of metal containers to use. The rules for metal usage are somewhat
complicated, but can be followed easily.

I use thick aluminum foil in a microwave regularly. However, it's usually
just wrapped around the bone-end of a chicken leg, squeezed fully around the
leg so there are no long points of Al sticking up, and is nowhere near the
inside metal lining of the oven. This prevents any drying out of the
leg-end. Works quite well.

Check out "Mr. Microwave's" site at .

But, if you have some spare time on your hands, and SOMEONE ELSE'S microwave
to play with, Bill Beaty has some great microwave activities at

Daryl L. Taylor, Fizzix Guy
Greenwich HS, CT
International Internet Educator of the Year '03
NASA SEU Educator Ambassador

This email prepared and transmitted using 100% recycled electrons!

-----Original Message-----
From: Forum for Physics Educators []On
Behalf Of Anthony Lapinski
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2005 12:26 PM
Subject: metal in microwave oven?

On a recent ski trip to Colorado, my friend brought a can of soup on the
mountain. He opened the top, and heated the soup can in the microwave! I
found this hard to believe. I thought that any metal placed in a microwave
oven will produce sparks and damage the interior. Apparently, I was
mistaken. Can someone clarify the physics of metals in microwaves for me?
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