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Microwave oven cavity: Comparison of ceramic vs stainless steel cavity

By on April 22, 2016

A microwave oven has become an integral part of a well-furnished kitchen in households now-a-days. Like any other electrical appliance, microwave ovens also come in different models produced by different manufacturers. There are many features which cater to different requirements of households. Among these, the material of the cavity of the microwave oven is an important aspect which people often ask about. Of the many ways in which cavity of a microwave oven impacts, one of them is energy consumption of the microwave oven. Let us see how.

Role of cavity in a microwave oven

A microwave oven consists of a magnetron which produces microwaves when electric current passes through it. These microwaves penetrate the food articles kept inside and agitate the water molecules inside the food (the moisture inside the food). As a result the water molecules start vibrating thus getting heated up. That is why it is said that a microwave oven heats up the food from the "inside out".

Since the heat is being produced due to electromagnetic waves, so it is important that it is ensured that the waves do not leak or escape from within the interior of the oven as it would contribute to the unnecessary wastage of electricity and also cause a health hazard. This is where the cavity plays an important role.

Many people tend to think that the only purpose of the cavity is to provide a place to keep food inside the oven. Although the cavity of a microwave oven necessarily does that, it also provides protection against the leaking of the electromagnetic waves from the inside of the oven. Since an oven has an enclosed interior, the microwave produced by the magnetron keep getting reflected again and again within the interior of the oven. In such a case, if the material of the cavity is not sturdy enough to facilitate such continuous reflection of microwaves, then the waves might leak away and escape outside. That is why the cavity of a microwave oven plays a very important role in not only the electricity consumption of the oven, but also in preventing the waves to leak.

Types of cavities in a microwave oven

The cavity (the place where you keep the food items) of a microwave oven is typically of two types:

1. Stainless steel cavity

2. Ceramic enamel cavity

To start with, it is important to note that the food articles kept in the microwave oven are heated up due to the electromagnetic waves produced by a magnetron, which heat up the water molecules inside the food articles, thereby heating them up. The internal walls of the cavity prevent the microwaves from leaking to the surroundings.

Ceramic cavity vs stainless steel cavity

Ceramic cavity in microwave ovens

Pros:

1. Ceramic cavity surface is non-sticky which means it is easy to clean.

2. Ceramic cavity adds a lustre to the surface and therefore looks good.

3. Certain brands claim to have an "anti-bacterial coating" to the surface of the microwave oven which prevents any bacterial attack.

Cons:

1. A microwave oven having a ceramic cavity will take longer to heat up the food articles kept inside it.

Stainless steel cavity in microwave ovens

Pros:

1. Stainless steel cavity facilitates better heating of the food articles inside the microwave oven as steel is a good conductor of heat.

2. Stainless steel provides better protection against leakages of the microwave ways.

Cons:

1. Stainless steel cavity does not offer a very good protection against scratches.

2. The microwave ovens with stainless steel cavity are a bit expensive.

Conclusion

Both the types of microwave ovens, with stainless steel cavity and ceramic cavity, are available in different models and brands, which offer a variety of other features which might be very useful to the users.

From an energy saving perspective, we would suggest that the microwave ovens with stainless steel cavity are a better option as they tend to heat up the articles quickly, thereby reducing the total electricity consumption by the oven.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_oven
http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/HomeBusinessandEntertainment/ucm116385.htm
http://www.arpansa.gov.au/radiationprotection/factsheets/is_microwave.cfm

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