# What properties make a good barrier for microwave (oven) radiation?

Suppose I have plenty of food I want to heat (which will provide load) in the microwave, and one item I don't want to heat. What properties would make a material a a good shield, to reduce or prevent heating of that item? I know metal can work as a barrier in the form of a Faraday cage, but that there are also potential issues with arcing. Presumably some kind of smoothly flexible metal mesh would be a good candidate - what properties would it need to be effective? (For example, we might consider mesh spacing, wire diameter, and the choice of metal.)

(Note: this is based on this question, which was recently migrated over to Seasoned Advice (food and cooking), but I think that it could really use physics expertise, so this is a rephrased version, addressing the complaints I saw leading to that question's migration.)

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I think it should be a well conducting material. Screens are usually made from metals. – freude May 3 '13 at 18:04
@freude Sure, that's why I mentioned metal. But how much does conductivity matter - could it be something cheaper than copper? What about mesh spacing and wire diameter? And how does arcing fit in? – Jefromi May 3 '13 at 18:48
Excellent question, by the way - this is exactly how I think the original question should have been asked. – David Z May 3 '13 at 19:01