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Today while I was preparing popcorns in the microwave I mistakenly set the timer to ~5mins and as a consequence quite a few of the popcorn were burnt. This shock was however much mild when compared to the next one.

While eating those popcorns I touched the outer surface of a half burnt and half popped kernel. The exterior was normal to touch but the moment I put the kernel onto my tongue it burned so hot as hell. As an experiment I did this again with the same results:

  • exterior: normal temperature. Can touch without shouting "ouch"

  • interior: much hotter. Need to say "ouch" on touching

Now why is this so. You would expect uniform heating for all kernels (burnt or not) which I did not experience. What may cause this.

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I see two contributions to this phenomenom: the first is the heating of the kernels, and the second is their cooling

Microwave heats food mainly by transfering energy to water molecules. However, the inner part of corn seed must be moister than the outter part, since it is not in contact with air. Thus, the interior of the kernels is much more heated than their exterior.

Then, you took your popcorns out of the oven, and they started to cool. Yet, the outisde of the kernels is often crumpled, which increases their exchange surface, speeding up the cooling of their outter part. In the meantime, the inside of the popcorns takes more time to cool down.

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