Microwave ovens are common in every household nowadays. They are useful for serving warm foods when you’re in a hurry. But what happens if, in that hurry, you run the microwave without noticing it is empty?

It is always possible to run a microwave empty in haste, unknowingly or carelessly. You might just forget to turn it off after you’re done. Children in households might playfully turn it on without putting anything inside.

The wave inside it warms the food by passing through it. You can control the time and temperature. But that is when you put something inside. What will happen if it remains empty? Can you break a microwave by running it empty? Could it cause a blast?

There are risks as well as solutions concerning this matter. Let’s find out.

Can You Break A Microwave By Running It Empty

Can You Break A Microwave By Running It Empty?

If you run a microwave empty, there is a risk of breaking or causing damage to it.

Unusual use of electric machines or electronics always tends to cause problems. A microwave is not much different.

A microwave oven works with the method of using, well, microwaves. These waves are generally absorbed by the thing put inside of the oven. When you run it empty, there is nothing inside the oven that could absorb them.

This could cause energy to be reflected within the oven, causing harm to the unit.

How Long Can You Leave A Microwave On While Not Using?

Running an oven in an empty state is too dangerous. For this reason, many experts opine not to use or turn on the microwave in an empty condition. It can result in a devastating fire accident.

But a standard microwave oven is capable of running empty for up to 4-5 minutes without any harm.

Can Running Empty Mess Up Your Microwave?

Running your microwave without food or anything inside can prove extremely harmful to your Microwave’s magnetron.

Everyone suggests turning it off when it’s empty and not being used for this main reason. Because if your magnetron is damaged, then the microwave will stop functioning properly and do the task it’s supposed to. For instance, not heating your food correctly.

It’s a bit costly if your magnetron breaks or malfunctions in case. Because you either have to repair it or, in the worst case, replace the oven entirely.

I Accidentally Ran My Oven Empty. How Do I Know If It’s Damaged? 

If you can not be sure whether your microwave oven is ok or not, then you can apply a simple test to confirm it. 

To test it, put a bowl of regular water inside the oven, turn it on and run it for 1-2 minutes. Then bring out the bowl and check the temperature. If the water has heated up, you can rest comfortably that it is safe to use.

On the contrary, if the temperature is the same as before or not hot, then there is a possibility that your microwave is damaged and you have to replace it or repair it. 

However, it is always safer to take the help of a professional in these cases.

What Can Damage A Microwave?

There are some limitations to using a microwave. It means you should not put any or everything (even if it’s food-related) inside your oven. 

Here I have discussed the top 10 general limitations you must consider while using an oven. These ten items should not be put in your microwave if you want them to last a long time.

1. Aluminum Foil

When you observe the oven, you can see that the interior is built of metal, and it works similar to a mirror. By reflecting microwaves, it heats the food inside. 

That’s why, when you put aluminum foil in it, It is possible for the foil to get burned as a result of the waves, which is very dangerous. So, using aluminum foil in the microwave is not recommended.

2. Grapes

Putting grapes in the microwave is particularly risky since they could explode and cause disastrous fire.

3. Bags made of paper

All the paper bags we use are not made of the same elements. For instance, the paper bags we use for our groceries are pretty plain, but the bags used for our tasty popcorn carries an element called susceptors. 

This element releases a toxin due to the microwave’s heat, which can easily result in a fire.

4. Hot Peppers

It is a fact that many people don’t know that peppers can catch fire. The truth is, yes, It is easily flammable.

Also, when the peppers are heated, they might produce a toxin that can hurt your eyes as soon as you open the microwave.

So, in my opinion, putting hot peppers in the microwave is not a good idea.

5. Your Favorite Shirt 

I know this is funny. But just imagine you are in a hurry and your only shirt is needed to dry, but you have no dryer in your house. Then you notice you have an oven that produces heat, and boom! You got a great Idea to dry your shirt with this!

Please don’t.

Stop here, don’t do anything like this. Save your shirt, along with your life. There have been instances where people have had the same idea and done the same silly action. And guess what, the result was not very pleasant. 

6. Frozen Meat

It is not a good idea to microwave a lump of frozen meat. The microwave can not distribute the heat to all parts of the meat. So, there is a possibility of germs growing on the raw portion of the food and spreading to the cooked food, which is unhealthy.

7. Hard-Boiled Eggs

Please use your stove if you actually want to boil an egg and not end up messing up the oven interior with egg marks. 

It amounts to madness boiling eggs in the oven. The egg will explode long before boiling due to high temperature and create a complete mess. 

So, don’t try this unless you’re looking for some cleaning work.

8. Take-out Boxes

Take-out foods are very popular nowadays. If you bring home some, don’t just put them in your oven to heat them.

Most of the take-out boxes, especially the Chinese ones, contain a thin layer of metal. If you want to warm your food along with this box by microwave, it might not show you a friendly scene. Why? 

Simple, It can easily catch fire.

9. Yogurt And Butter Container

Single-use plastic, often known as one-time plastic, is a type of plastic used only once. They’re used in yoghurt boxes, and if you overheat them, they’ll melt and leak toxic chemicals into the meal.

10. Empty Microwave

When there is no food or anything else in the oven to absorb the waves, it can cause a fire. If not, It still can damage your microwave, costing you to repair it or replace it.

Read More: Can You Use A Microwave Without The Waveguide Cover (Let’s see!)

Which Ovens Should I Choose for safety?

There are many options out there with unique safety features. So, the best is to check yourself and talk with the dealer directly to get the best customer support.

However, If you talk about personal preference, here’s some I would like to suggest-

  1. Toshiba EM131A5C-SS Microwave Oven 

Best features:

  • One of the best seller products
  • It contains a sensor that has been pre-programmed with a menu for cooking various dishes—for example, pizza, cake, potato.
  • The Eco mode can save power in a significant amount.
  • Option to turn off or on the sound
  • Safety lock for children
  • Made of Stainless steel
  • 1100 watts of wattage.
  1. Walsh WSCMS311BK-10 Countertop Microwave Oven

Best features:

  • It includes six auto cooking modes that can quickly cook potatoes, pizza, and vegetables with just one touch.
  • It has a door that can be opened with a push of a button.
  • The oven also has a child safety lock.
  • It has an interior light and LED lighting.
  • The material of this oven is glass.
  • It has 1000 watts of wattage,
  1. Toshiba EM925A5A-BS Microwave Oven

Best features:

  • It has pre-programmed options for different dishes like pizza, cake, or potatoes.
  • Single touch start.
  • The Eco mode can save power in a significant amount.
  • Option to turn off or on the sound
  • Safety lock for children
  • 900 watts with ten different power settings, including a clock and a kitchen timer.
  • Easy-to-read control panel with digital display.
  • Stainless steel material 

Comparison Chart:

Model/featureToshiba EM131A5C-SS Microwave OvenWalsh WSCMS311BK-10 Countertop Microwave OvenToshiba EM925A5A-BS Microwave Oven
Power Saving modeYesNoYes
Child safety lockYesYesYes
MaterialStainless SteelGlassStainless Steel
Sound on/offYesNoYes
Power usage1100 watts1000 watts900 watts


While being extremely useful, microwaves can be significantly harmful too. So it’s better to be careful while using it. You can break or damage the microwave by running it empty even with all the safety features included. So always check well if you have turned off your microwave oven. This carefulness of a second might save your machine, home, or even life. 




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