For one reason or another sometimes your microwave will fill with smoke. It might be food burning, sparks flying from metal or it could be an electrical problem or the magnetron could be smoking.
When there is smoke if your microwave you should never leave it and you should address the issue immediately. Here's what to do when there is smoke in your microwave as well as some details on what may have caused the smoke.
What To Do If There Is Smoke In Your Microwave
If there is smoke coming from the microwave here are the steps I recommend you take.
NOTE: Try Not To Breathe The Smoke
Smoke is never good to breathe but with microwave fires this is especially the case. The smoke could be causes by melting plastic in the microwave, electrical wires and their insulation or the magnetron. None of these fumes are healthy for you to inhale and should be avoided as much as possible.
So I suggest holding your breath while doing the following and try not to breathe in any smoke.
1. Immediately Stop The Microwave and Unplug It From Power
Microwaves create heat when they are on and if left on then they can actually fuel a fire making it worse.
Microwaves are actually able to create plasma, which is a state of matter above gas. It's highly energetic and by it's very nature extremely hot which can fuel fires.
So if you see smoke coming from your microwave immediately stop the microwave. Then turn off the microwave at the wall socket and unplug it from the wall to ensure no power at all is running through the wiring.
This allows you to both take the microwave outside as well as stops any electrical current if you're having an electrical fire.
2. Take Your Microwave Outside or To A Well Ventilated Area
If there is some coming from your microwave you don't want this smoke to fill up your entire house.
So take the microwave outside into your yard or onto your balcony to a well ventilated area when you won't inhale the smoke and where the fire won't get out of control and burn your house down.
3. Check For Fires
Smoke in a microwave generally preceeds a fire and smoke is much more common than fires.
Still you want to check for fires just in case there is something burning. In the below video I microwaves a dominos pizza box. Smoke was coming out of the microwave so I took the box outside.
I thought all was good but soon discovered that the box was actually on fire ON THE INSIDE.
If you have a fire you'll want to put it out. I use water to put out fires unless it's an oil based fire. If it's oil based you want to smother then fire so a fire blanket or fire extinguisher will do the job.
4. Open a Window, Get a Fan and Ventilate The Room The Microwave Was In
Once you've taken the microwave outside and taken care of the source of the fire you'll want to make sure you open the windows in your kitchen (or wherever the microwave was) and ventilate the space to remove any smoke or the smell of smoke.
If it got really smokey then a fan can be used to air out the area faster.
5. Once Smoke Has Cleared Inspect Your Microwave For Cause of Fire
Once everything has calmed down and the smoke has stopped you'll want to check for the source of the smoke.
If it was food or leftover residue in your microwave then clean it well. However, if you suspect it was the electrics or the magnetron then you should probably throw your microwave away and get a new one.
3 Main Reasons Your Microwave Smokes (or Sparks)
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the reasons why smoke or sparks appear are: improper cleaning, wrong supplies, and overcooking. The other times it's usually an electrical fire or overheating of the magnetron.
1. Improper Cleaning
If you take care of something, it will last longer. If you don’t already, you should probably cover everything you heat in the microwave. The less food explosion splatters, the better.
No matter what you use your microwave for, it is best to clean it out after every time you use it. Ideally, soapy water is what you want to use when cleaning out the microwave.
This will make sure there will be no food left over that has the potential to overheat and cause smoke and/or sparks in your microwave.
2. Wrong Materials
Physics is the study of the physical world around us. Physics shows the relationship of matter to itself and helps us understand more. Those who have studied physics and chemistry can tell you (with confidence) not to put anything metal in the microwave.
This is because the high voltage arc and sparks that would result can breed dangerous situations.
If this happens, it can damage your microwave or even cause a fire. The fire could just burn the microwave or your whole house. Microwaves have burned many houses down before.
Dishware is labelled microwave safe for a reason. This is definitely one of those reasons. Some people make the mistake of not noticing certain metals in their dishware and unknowingly can cause harm.
It doesn’t take very much metal in a microwave to be able to produce sparks or a fire.
One of the things that makes a microwave incredibly convenient is the fact it takes a lot less time to be able to cook something in one. This is a double-edged sword for sure. If you leave food in the microwave too long, it can cause unpleasant smelling smoke that can lead to a fire.
It can be easy to leave food in for too long because of how quick the microwave can cook things. It’s important to read over the microwave’s factory instructions to make sure you are using the proper voltage for what you are heating up. Everything you need to know to ensure you don’t overcook food and cause smoke or a fire is in that manual.
If you have misplaced the manual, you can look inside the microwave for any details on the power and wattage, or, you can easily obtain another one online. A surefire way to make sure you don’t overheat your food in the microwave is to not leave it unattended.
At worst, you will see the smoke before any fires. If you do happen to see smoke or sparks coming from the microwave, you might have electrical problems internally with the microwave.
If this is the case, you should turn off the microwave and unplug it as soon as possible. For the next step, either call an appliance technician or the microwave company if the unit is still under warranty.
Many appliance technicians can come to your house and look at your microwave and potentially fix it. Worst case scenario, you will have to get a new microwave or switch to an alternative.
Can You Still Use Your Microwave After It Has Caught On Fire?
Has your microwave given off smoke or even had a small fire inside of it? If so, and your microwave is still functional, you can still use your microwave oven.
If you had a bad experience with your current microwave, you might just want to get rid of it all together.
Personally I've actually set fire to many different things in my microwave including pizza boxes, paper plates, paper towels etc. I did this for this website as well as my YouTube channel.
But because the fire was caused by overheating of the items in the microwave they didn't do any actual damage to the microwave itself (other than cosmetic damage). So the microwave still works completely fine.
However, if it was a fire caused by an overheating magnetron or an electrical fire then yes I would definitely throw out this microwave immediately and get a new one.