Sparking vegetables in microwave

Discussion in 'Home Repair' started by Shawn P. Good, Jan 4, 2004.

  1. Ok - here's a strange one. My wife diced up about a quarter of a green
    peper this morning and put it in our 10-year-old Hotpoint vented
    counter-saver microwave (Model RVM125K003) to soften them before adding them
    to an omlette. I heard her scream from the kitchen and ran in to see the
    green peppers jumping and sparking, with flames shooting out of the dices.
    There were no sparks in the microwave itself - they were only coming from
    the vegetables.

    At first I thought there must be some metal in the bowl. I took the bowl
    out, diced up another green pepper, put it in a different bowl, popped it
    back in - same thing. So I started doing a serious of experiments. I diced
    up a carrot, put it in a different bowl again - and the same thing happened.
    Flames and sparks shooting from the carrots, but nowhere else in the
    microwave. After letting it go only 4 or 5 seconds, when I took it out, the
    carrots were singed black in spots. On to another vegetable - this time a
    diced stalk of celery. Same result. Sparks and flames from the vegetable.
    I moved on to a slice of bread - this time no sparks or flames, but within
    seconds steam started coming from the bread. At first I thought it was
    smoke, but it didn't smell like smoke, so I think it was steam. Then I put
    in just a plain bowl of water and it started steaming pretty fast too. Some
    leftover soup from the fridge didn't do anything.

    A quick search on the internet revealed that some vegetables can contain
    trace amounts of minerals which can cause sparks and flames, and they finger
    carrots and green peppers (see
    http://website.lineone.net/~stolarczyk/trivia2.html and page down to the ICY
    SPARKS FROM YOUR CARROTS section and also see
    http://www.public.coe.edu/departments/Chemistry/research.html and page down
    to the FOOD CHEMISTRY section).

    Anyways, in 10 years of cooking in this microwave, it has never happened
    before. I'm wondering if this is a sign my microwave is about to die. So
    my questions to the group are :

    1) Anyone else experience this ? What was your determination/solution ?
    2) Is my microwave about to die ?
    3) Should I keep using it, or is my microwave maybe focusing it's waves to a
    dangerous point

    Thanks to all for reading this.

    Shawn
     
    Shawn P. Good, Jan 4, 2004
    #1
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  2. Shawn P. Good

    Dan Hartung Guest

    Shawn P. Good wrote:
    > Ok - here's a strange one. My wife diced up about a quarter of a green
    > peper this morning and put it in our 10-year-old Hotpoint vented
    > counter-saver microwave (Model RVM125K003) to soften them before adding them
    > to an omlette. I heard her scream from the kitchen and ran in to see the
    > green peppers jumping and sparking, with flames shooting out of the dices.
    > There were no sparks in the microwave itself - they were only coming from
    > the vegetables.


    ===quote===
    Dr. Dean and her students, as well as others, have observed that grapes,
    carrots, and many other fruits or vegetables, when cut and placed next
    to one another and heated in a microwave oven, will spark with
    considerable size and duration. There is no ready explanation for this
    phenomenon in the physics or chemical literature. There may be a
    correlation among the dielectric constant, sample size and shape,
    moisture content for different foods, and the amount of sparking that
    takes place in the microwave field. In addition, the phenomenon can be
    modeled using salt solutions to mimic those present in a typical fruit
    or vegetable cell. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a cut edge of the
    fruit or vegetable must be present, touching that of another cut edge,
    for the phenomenon to occur. This phenomenon seems similar to that of
    the 'edge effect' where electrons congregate at the sharp edges and
    point of a metal in an electric field and can discharge via a spark to
    another edge or point nearby.
    ===end quote===

    http://www.public.coe.edu/departments/Chemistry/research.html
     
    Dan Hartung, Jan 5, 2004
    #2
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  3. Shawn P. Good

    Jim Elbrecht Guest

    On Mon, 05 Jan 2004 04:12:59 GMT, "David Babcock"
    <> wrote:

    >With the price of Nukes these days I sure wouldn't want to chance a ten year
    >old one. Especially one acting like yours


    And if you decide to replace it, don't do what I did and just throw it
    out. [I've been kicking myself for 3 years and hope this one doesn't
    last as long]

    A microwave deserves a glorious end. Preferably videotaped from a
    safe distance. Microwave some eggs. Try an aerosal can; [are
    there plastic ones?] a sealed jar of peanut butter; a light bulb; a
    lava lamp--- anything.

    There is probably a Usenet group or web site dedicated to 'things you
    can do with your dying microwave', but I'm too sad about mine to look.

    Please don't let your microwave just go to the dump. If you have no
    sense of adventure call the local High School or university. Their
    Science department should be able to find a use for it. [hmmm-- VT,
    eh? How far are you from Albany, NY? I could dispose of it for you.
    <g>]

    Jim
     
    Jim Elbrecht, Jan 5, 2004
    #3
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