Most of us have been taught that you should never put anything in the microwave, even though the microwave is made of metal. But despite what people might tell you there are some metals you can put in the microwave without issue.
But what about forks, knives and spoons? Can you microwave metal cutlery? And what happens if you do?
Instead of just believing what other people tell me I both did the research AND tested it for myself. Here's what I found:
You can microwave metal cutlery without causing sparks, fires or blowing up your microwave. The metal cutlery will get extremely hot very quickly, which can burn you if you aren't careful, and two pieces of cutlery almost touching may cause sparks but overall metal cutlery is fine to put in the microwave.
This goes completely counter to what we have always been taught.
When I told my partner I was doing this she was sure I was going to blow up my microwave, and so was my 10 year old daughter when I told her.
Young and old we have been lead to believe metal in the microwave is bad. In some cases, like with aluminium foil, this can be the case. However, when it comes to metal cutlery I think everyone is being pedantic for nothing.
To prove this point and see what would happen I actually went ahead and did an experiment myself.
My Experiment With A Spoon, Knife and Fork in the Microwave
I wanted to see for myself what would happen if I put cutlery in the microwave.
From my research I presumed that nothing would happen with the spoon and knife. However, I full expected the fork the shoot electricity between the prongs.
Watch the video below to see what happened, or read on for the results:
Unfortunately there were no big sparks or exciting explosions. The metal just got EXTREMELY hot. You can see the results i
Experiments Done By Other People
I'm not the only one who's been willing to put my microwave and eyebrows on the line to test and see what might happen when you put metal cutlery in a microwave.
There are multiple other people who have done experiments and published them to YouTube with similar lackluster results.
The below video test everything from single pieces of cutlery to ball bearings to multiple pieces of cutlery and aluminium foil.
With lots of cutlery together there were only minor sparks and it's really only the aluminium foil that had any sort of reaction.
What Happens When You Put Metal Cutlery In The Microwave?
What happens when you put metal in the microwave? Honestly a lot less than you think. Metal cutlery is made out of stainless steel. When you put stainless steel in the microwave it quite quickly gets extremely hot!
Metal is full of a lot of loose electrons and when stimulated by the microwave these move around rapidly and create heat.
When I personally tested this and put a knife in the microwave for just 30 seconds it heated up to a whopping 214ºF (101ºC). That's above the boiling temperature of water and it was definitely hot enough to burn skin.
However, it didn't spark or create plasma or fires in my microwave.
If you were to put a metal utensil in the microwave with food then that food would absorb a lot of the microwaves and so it will have an even lesser effect on your cutlery.
This extremely helpful professor on Quora goes into detail about what happens to metal inside a microwave if you want to go more indepth.
Worst case scenario something like a fork will create sparks between it's points and worst worst case scenario sharp metal objects can create plasma.
Plasma is when the gas in the air gets so hot it changes and can now conduct electricity relatively easily.
Once this process begins from the sharp metal point it can shoot out sparks (like lightening) and the plasma can grow making the lightening bolt grow. This can damage and scorch the walls of your microwave.
If you're not paying attention to the microwave and don't notice the extremely loud noises and super bright flashes or light then yes you could potentially start a fire and burn your house down.
But this is highly unlikely.
Any normal human who saw and heard sparks or plasma in their microwave would instantly turn it off, after which the sparks and plasma will nearly instantly stop.
So Can You Microwave Metal Cutlery
At the end of the day what we have always been lead to believe is false. So can you microwave metal cutlery?
It turns out you can microwave metal cutlery without major issues. The cutlery will likely get hot and could burn you but sparks and fire and extremely rare and unlikely.
So while I don't advise you go and throw 100 forks into your microwave if you happen to leave your cutlery on your plate when you're trying to heat up some food, it's actually not a big deal at all.
There is actually more danger in putting scrunched up bits of paper or cardboard in your microwave as these can legitimately set on fire and could cause major issues.