How Does a Microwave Work?


How Does a Microwave Work?

  • Microwaves function by utilizing a relatively ingenious process. The term "microwave" is short for "microwave oven." Microwave ovens got their name from the fact that they use microwaves to work. Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation. Microwaves are produced within a microwave by passing high-voltage electricity through a device called a cavity magnetron. The magnetron creates microwaves which are then directed into the microwave oven's interior to generate heat.

How Does a Microwave Cook Food?

  • The question remains, however, of just how it is exactly that a microwave oven derives the heat necessary to cook food in such a short period of time. When microwaves are introduced into the microwave oven they penetrate the food on a molecular level. On that very small level, the microwaves cause the water molecules within the food to vibrate rapidly. This vibration causes friction, which results in the generation of heat energy. This is how microwave ovens use microwaves to cook food.

Do Some Microwaves Work Differently Than Others?

  • Although some microwaves do have slightly different design specifications, the basic principles that make any given microwave oven function do not vary significantly from machine to machine. What does vary, on the other hand, is the power level of the microwaves. Small, compact microwave ovens may only offer 500 watts of power. Larger, more powerful home microwave ovens can range upward of 2000 watts. Because of this, microwave ovens vary in power a great deal, and their overall heat output reflects this fact.

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  • Photo Credit Hedwig von Ebbel, Public Domain
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