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Using Microwave Oven Power Levels

Using Microwave Oven Power Levels

Understanding microwave oven power levels can change your cooking experience!

The microwave oven is one of the most commonly used everyday items. Humble and small yet powerful in its applications of heating and reheating our food and beverages, the microwave oven is a notable kitchen invention. There is more to cooking with the microwave oven than one might expect, however. Using microwave oven power levels can bring in a whole new dimension when cooking with this heavy-duty appliance.

How a Microwave Oven Works

A microwave oven consists of many parts, but one of the most important is the magnetron. The oven takes electricity and turns the electrons into microwaves. The magnetron tube is where this transformation takes place. Another part, called the waveguide, sends the microwaves into the chamber where food or a beverage is rotating. The microwaves can only penetrate the material from the outside in, so constant or intermittent microwave surges are necessary for the entire food or drink to become hot. 

One should note that it is absolutely necessary for something that can receive heat to be in the microwave oven when it is operating. Otherwise, the waves will bounce around and can cause an explosion.

How Microwave Oven Power Levels Work

You might have noticed that one can run a microwave oven on different power percentages. Microwave oven power levels are actually a way to make the oven run its power intermittently. With 100% power, the microwave oven’s magnetron will be on 100% of the time. If the power is 50%, it will run at equal intervals for a total of 30 seconds. One cannot lower or increase the wavelength of the microwaves, but one can turn them on and off as the cooking progresses. That is what power levels do at equal intervals.

Practical Applications

Why would one want to cook food or beverages with intermittent power rather than all at once? Because microwaves move heat from the outside in, lower power levels can help to lessen the chance of food becoming dry or burnt while still cooking to the center. It can also help liquids to warm without splashing. Great examples of items that benefit from lower microwave oven power levels are solid foods like potatoes, chicken, and casseroles and sensitive foods like melted chocolate, melted butter, and other dairy products.

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