Recently here at Sharp, we were approached by a group of collectors of vintage plates. These plates have intricate metal detailing around the edges and the collectors were curious about one thing in particular, is this metal trim safe to go in the microwave?
It’s a question we get asked all the time here at Sharp: can metal go in the microwave? The short answer is absolutely not. Any modern microwave has the potential to “arc” or create little popping sparks in the presence of a reflective, metallic surface under any circumstances.
Vintage commercials and advertisements can be misleading today. Less powerful magnetrons in early microwaves were somewhat more tolerant. You can even find old manufacturer commercials on YouTube that encouraged you use aluminum foil to “shield” parts of your food that you didn’t want overcooked, however, there is a caveat. Even when “shielding” was an acceptable practice – you had to make sure that the foil was perfectly smooth. Even then, if microwaves encountered points or edges in the metallic surface, you could experience arcing.
People often ask why then do some large microwave ovens come with a metal rack-shelf for two-level cooking. The answer is that the rack that came with the oven is specifically machined not to have edges that create the environment for microwaves to arc. However, nothing is 100% and you cannot transfer the “microwave safe rack” from one microwave oven to another.
More modern microwaves have no tolerance for any metallic surface. Any gilded flatware or utensil can cause arcing and be completely ruined in moments. The fire-hazard danger varies from model to model. The plain fact of the matter is that “arcing” produces sparks, and if there is anything inside the microwave that could be ignited by a spark, it may have the potential to catch fire.
Always use your microwave oven in strict accordance with the instructions and safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Always keep your microwave oven clean inside-and-out. Finally, do not hesitate to replace an older model with a newer, more energy efficient model that may have newer safety features and guidelines, and more effective cooking performance.
And remember, never put anything metallic or a metallic trim in the microwave oven.