Although it may seem like making a big deal out of nothing, there can be some dangers to heating plain water in your microwave. Water placed in a clean cup, with nothing else in it, and heated for several minutes, can spray upwards and outwards when removed from the microwave. Water heated in this way actually heats to beyond the boiling point, even when no bubbles appear in the water or on the surface.
This is called “superheated” water.
Once the cup is removed, any small disturbance can trigger the release of the stored energy, forcing the water to be violently dispelled outward. Anything from moving the cup to adding instant coffee to stirring the water can trigger this reaction. This scalding water can be propelled upwards and can burn your hands, arms, and face severely. There is also the risk of serious eye injury.
How can you protect yourself from this hidden danger? If you are boiling plain water, use a teakettle on the stovetop, rather than using the microwave. If you do use the microwave to boil water, place a wooden stir stick in the water before heating. Never microwave a full cup of water. Generally, you should only fill the cup a third to a half full. After removing the cup of water from the microwave, let it sit for several minutes before adding anything to it. Do not heat water for an extended time the microwave. Only heat for the minimum it takes to heat your water, usually no more than two minutes for eight ounces of water. Don’t heat water twice in a microwave, as the effect is made even worse.
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