Imagine this: You’ve just come home, and you’re absolutely starving. You open your freezer, and there’s a single burrito in there, just waiting for you to eat it. As your excitement levels rise, you open your microwave, only to find rust on the plate.
What are you supposed to do now? Do you risk it all for the burrito, or do you just drop the idea and find something else to eat? Read on to find out.
Is It Safe to Use a Rusty Microwave?
To avoid keeping you in suspense, let’s answer this question straight away. Can you use a rusty microwave? Yes, you can. But if you care about your health or home, you definitely shouldn’t.
Just look at it this way: you wouldn’t eat from a rusty tin can, so why should a microwave be any different? By eating food that came out of a rusty microwave, you’d essentially be poisoning yourself.
And like with most forms of poisoning, you probably won’t feel anything at first. But then, you’ll get sicker and sicker, and treating the condition will be really difficult. So for the love of everything that’s good in the world, don’t use a rusty microwave.
With that said, there is a small caveat, and that’s the fact that you can still use a microwave if all the rust is on the outside. If you can be 100% sure that rust hasn’t seeped in, you can use your appliance.
But that’s sometimes too difficult to tell, so your best bet would either be de-rusting or buying a new microwave.
The Dangers of a Rusty Microwave
As you can already probably tell, a rusty microwave is a huge health and safety hazard. That’s because one of two things can happen. Either you’ll experience rust arcing or radiation leakage. Here’s what those two things mean exactly, and what kind of impact they can have on your life.
1. Rust Arcing
Rust arcing sure does sound like a complicated term, but it’s actually a pretty common occurrence. When microwave rays bounce against the metal inside, they will cause a spark while you’re using the oven.
Of course, that also might happen occasionally if you’re using utensils and kitchenware that aren’t microwave-safe. So make sure that it’s not your dishes that are causing the spark.
One of the most reasons rust arcing happens is because your microwave’s inner coating isn’t ceramic. So over time, it’ll erode and become exposed to the rays.
If at any point, you see sparks coming out of your microwave, you need to turn it off immediately. Also, unplug your appliance, and either fix it or buy a new one.
2. Microwave Radiation Leakage
If microwave radiation leakage sounds scary, it’s because it is. When there’s rust on the inside of your appliance, or somewhere on its door, it can cause leaks. That’s, of course, both unsafe and unhealthy, and long term exposure to it can have some serious consequences.
Essentially, a large amount of radiation can affect the cell processes in humans and cause problems such as glaucoma, sterility, and leukemia. That won’t happen overnight, but it’s still in your best interest to fix the microwave right away. Luckily, testing for radiation leakage is pretty simple, and anyone can easily do it.
Testing for Microwave Radiation Leakage
There are a couple of methods that you could employ when testing for leaks, but let’s start with the easiest one. First, you need to find an object that can react to your microwave’s frequencies. For example, you could use a:
- Straight fluorescent light bulb
- Neon NE-2 bulb that’s hooked up to a voltage divider
- Diagnostic tool
- Consumer-grade microwave tester
All these tools do pretty much the same thing, and the detection process is pretty similar for all. To avoid damaging your microwave, put a glass of water in it before starting the test, and turn on your microwave. If you’re using any of the bulbs, make sure to dim the lights in your room, so you can see what’s going on.
Move your tool/bulb slowly around the microwave, ensuring that it’s at least two inches away from it. If there’s any leakage, you’ll clearly be able to see it with your tool/bulb, and you’ll need to take action right away.
If you’re using the diagnostic tool, you’ll need to place it inside the microwave, next to the glass of water. It will light up if there are any leaks.
Using a WiFi Connection
Now, using a WiFi connection to test for radiation is a bit trickier, and involves some basic knowledge of connectivity. But it’s your best bet, especially if you can’t or don’t want to buy any tools to check for leaks.
You need to get two WiFi-enabled devices (laptops or phones), and set them both to 2.4 GHz. That particular frequency is pretty similar to what microwaves generate, so it’ll be easy to test. Make sure to turn off the data on your device, and unplug your microwave from the socket.
You then have to find the IP address of the device that’s going inside the microwave. You can do that in the Control Panel/System Preferences or by looking it up online.
Then, put the desired device inside the microwave, and ping from the other device (from the Command Prompt or Terminal). Finally, you have to wait a few seconds for a response. If you get a ping back, your microwave is leaking.
What Is Microwave Paint and Why Is It Important?
Here’s a fun fact that many people don’t know: microwaves have a special type of paint that can withstand their unique environments. That’s because regular paint would chip and peel, and become completely ineffective after just a few days or weeks.
The reason you should know this is that, in order to get rid of the rust, you’d need to get rid of the paint, and put on a fresh coat. That’s because chipped paint is what attracts the rust, and repairing it needs to be your number one priority.
Fixing Rust Inside a Microwave
To start, you need to examine the interior of your oven and check whether any of the rust spots have pinholes. If so, there’s no repairing the oven, and you’ll unfortunately just have to buy a new one.
But if there aren’t any pinholes, you can unplug your microwave from the socket and start working on it. Grab a pair of rubber gloves, and mix one part trisodium phosphate with ten parts water. Apply the solution, wait a few minutes, and wipe it with a clean cloth.
You can also use a putty knife or scraper to get rid of any persistent rust spots. If you don’t have one, you can get a wire metal brush instead. You should also sand down the rust spots with 60-grit rough sandpaper.
Once you’ve done that, clean the inside of the microwave with rubbing alcohol or your paint won’t stick. You can also get some painter’s tape or plastic sheeting to protect the areas that you’re not painting.
You should then grab your microwave paint, and apply it in thin layers. Also, make sure to wait for the previous coat to fully dry before going in with a new one. It’s also a good idea to hold off on using the microwave for a few days after applying the last coat of paint.
Preventing Microwave Rust in the Future
The best way to prevent rust in the future is to clean your microwave often using a hot, damp cloth. As soon as there’s any food debris or grease inside, take care of it right away.
For stubborn stains, put a few lemon slices inside a bowl of hot water, and use the low setting on your microwave to create steam. After that, the stains will easily come off on a damp cloth.
As you can see, using a rusty microwave to heat up your food is a terrible idea. It’s unhealthy, unsafe, and can cause a ton of problems. So make sure to clean your oven on a regular basis, and check for leaks every once in a while.