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I want my mug to boil as soon as possible and I prefer not to throw energy away. Where in microwave ovens things warm faster?

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  • $\begingroup$ Be careful about using a microwave oven to boil water. If your mug is very clean and very smooth, and if the liquid contains no solid particles or significant dissolved gasses, then you can accidentally superheat the water. Search YouTube for "microwave superheated water" to see examples of why that could be a Bad Thing. $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Mar 20 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting that superheat thing. Now I understand why I always need to clean when I warm water in the microwave and then put rice in it. $\endgroup$ – riqui Mar 21 at 14:44
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Microwave ovens are designed to spread their energy around inside the oven chamber in the most uniform way possible, so that any food placed in them will get uniformly heated and cooked. This means it shouldn't matter where in the oven you place your mug when heating it.

Depending on the design of the oven, uniformity can be aided by something called a mode mixer which bends the microwave beam around in a variety of directions as it enters the oven chamber, and by the use of a turntable which rotates the food item around under the beam so it gets uniformly "illuminated".

You can map the uniformity of the microwaves in the oven if you want by covering the bottom surface of the oven with marshmallows and then turning it on until you first notice the marshmallows beginning to melt. The first ones to melt are sitting in a "hot spot" where the microwaves are concentrated.

Don't let this process carry on too long, for the melted marshmallows are messy to clean up!

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  • $\begingroup$ Looks like a sweet experiment. I'll try it and bring some photos ;). Any bets? i would say corners will get melted earlier. $\endgroup$ – riqui Mar 21 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ no bets! but have fun! $\endgroup$ – niels nielsen Mar 21 at 17:31
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Consider the microwaves as a light. It is absorbed first at the surfaces. The plate rotates to make the light heat the water more uniformly. The oven walls reflect the light, so it is not lost.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. It don't really reflect ALL the light. And my microwave oven doesn't have turning plate. $\endgroup$ – riqui Mar 21 at 12:26

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