Why do microwaves spin?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: August 8, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Table of Contents

Why do microwaves spin?

Have you ever wondered why microwaves spin? It’s a question that has puzzled many people over the years.

Some say it’s because of the way microwaves are designed, while others believe it has something to do with the food being cooked.

So, why do microwaves spin? In a microwave oven, microwaves are produced which vibrate water molecules in the food to produce the heat that cooks the food. Microwaves spin to rotate food in a way that temperature is distributed uniformly along with all directions and the food is cooked evenly. Studies have shown that the spinning function of microwaves increases the temperature uniformity within the oven by 40-50%.

But there is so much more to explore regarding the spinning function in microwaves. What do we mean by microwave spinning? What if your microwave has no turntable and it doesn’t spin at all?

This blog post will answer all your questions.

Let’s get started!

What do we mean by microwave spinning?

You might be wondering what do we mean by microwave spinning. Well, microwave spinning means spinning the turntable in a microwave oven to mix your food to ensure it is evenly cooked. The turntable rotates at around 3,450 rpm (revolutions per minute).

The microwave oven itself sends out electromagnetic radiation that penetrates your food. The microwaves are absorbed by water molecules contained within the food, which in turn creates heat. This is referred to as dielectric heating. As the turntable spins, it turns certain parts of your food into hot steam while other parts are being heated from the inside out.

This steaming and heating process ensures that your food will be cooked evenly and thoroughly throughout.

A few reasons why microwave ovens spin

There are many reasons why microwaves are designed with a spinning mechanism. Some of these are:

1. Helps to cook food evenly

Microwaves rely on the dielectric heating process which means that they only penetrate the surface of food items, cooking them quickly but not thoroughly. This means that spinning your food helps to achieve an even cook throughout.

2. Prevents burning via overheating

Certain foods tend to cook faster than others. If left to rotate on their own, these fast cooking items could end up overcooking and burning, especially when placed near a heat source such as a grill or oven element.

The microwave’s spinning component ensures that all items remain in contact with the microwaves even if they are not being cooked through at the same pace.

3. Prevents burning via uneven distribution

Microwaves are unable to cook items evenly on their own, which is why food requires being stirred or rotated before being served. When microwaves are used for prolonged periods of time, it is possible that certain areas will start to overcook more quickly than others causing food to become burnt.

4. Prevents overcooking

The spinning mechanism allows microwaves to spread heat throughout your food faster, which means that you are less likely to have dried out or overcooked items when they are finished cooking. For example, wet vegetables can easily be overcooked in a microwave, but the use of a turntable allows steam to escape and ensures that the vegetables are cooked evenly.

3 tips to clean the microwave turntable

We all know the feeling. You go to clean the microwave and you lift the turntable to find it layers with food particles that very much resemble your last meal. It’s enough to put anyone off their dinner! Here are some useful tips on how to clean a microwave turntable:

1. Use soapy water

– Before removing the microwave shelf, unplug the unit

– Take out the microwave shelf and wash it in hot soapy water.

– Rinse the microwave shelf with clean water and allow it to dry properly.

– Return the microwave shelf to its position, plug in your microwave oven and you should be good to go!

2. Use damp cloths

– If you do not have access to hot soapy water, wipe the microwave shelf gently with a damp cloth. Ensure that all food particles are removed before wiping off any excess moisture.

3. Baking soda and vinegar

– Using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar for cleaning the microwaves is very effective.

– Mix half a cup each of water and white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl.

– Place the bowl into your microwave oven, on top of the rotating plate, then switch it on to its highest setting for 5 minutes.

Do all microwaves have turntables?

Not really. Although most microwaves will have a turntable fitted, some versions dispense with the rotating mechanism. Alternative versions may use grill or microwave technology to cook instead of rotisserie heating. However, these versions tend to be more expensive than their regular counterparts and are usually only found on high-end models.

3 Advantages of the microwave without turntable

Microwaves without turntables have some advantages. Let’s discuss them one by one!

Number of items being cooked

If you want to cook a variety of items at once, microwaves without turntables may be for you. For example, it can be hard to fit two dishes onto the same turntable if they are vastly different in size or shape. In this instance, you would need to choose between one or the other.

Size of food items

Some microwaves have turntables that spin at a high speed to compensate for larger and heavier dishes which can result in your smaller food items getting thrown off. If you want to cook a greater variety of items without having to constantly replace the ones that get flung to the perimeter of your oven, then a microwave without a turntable will be ideal for you.

The turntable is hard to clean

If you find that your turntable is difficult to clean, having one without a rotating mechanism may be the solution to your problems. While microwaves with turntables require regular cleaning to avoid food and dirt becoming caked onto the surface of the device, microwaves can be wiped down with ease once finished cooking.

How many types of microwaves are out there?

There are several types of microwaves available on the market today. Understanding their differences is an important first step in answering our question at hand.

  • Toasters or grills use high power to rotate metal meshes, producing heat that cooks food.
  • Magnetrons are found in nearly all microwave ovens used for cooking. These devices produce waves of electromagnetic energy to heat the food.
  • Built-in microwaves are installed into kitchen walls, cabinetry, or even countertops. They are often used with convection ovens to cook food more evenly.
  • Countertop microwaves are free-standing appliances that plug into an electrical outlet. Many of these feature full glass turntables for even cooking and easy serving.
  • Convection microwave ovens combine microwaves with a fan to circulate heated air for more even cooking.

How exactly do microwaves cook food?

  • Microwave ovens work in a different way than conventional ovens. For one, they use high-powered electric fields instead of direct heat from flames or elements. The microwave energy is produced when electron particles in atoms collide with each other. When this happens, they release excess energy that is carried by photons (which we cannot see).
  • The microwaves bounce around in the oven and off of objects like metal pans and water molecules. They make the food’s water molecules vibrate faster and faster until the food heats up to temperatures between 130-180 degrees Fahrenheit (54-82 degrees Celsius).

What’s similar in microwaves and ovens?

While microwaves work differently from regular ovens, they do have one thing in common: both need metal pans to cook food.

If you have a microwave without a rotating mechanism, it will likely come with a metal rack or tray to place your food on.

How much does a microwave costs?

You can expect to pay between $50 and $500 for a microwave that has a turntable. This price range primarily reflects how many watts the microwave’s magnetron uses, but other factors play a role too. For example, you will likely have to pay more for features such as convection capabilities or sensor cooking technology.

Final Thoughts

In summary, microwave spin to make sure the food is evenly heated and the turntable makes it easier to cook a wider variety of dishes.

Happy cooking!

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