What Really Happens When You Microwave Nothing?

Many people already likely know that some items should never go in the microwave. If you've ever accidentally left behind some aluminum foil from the wrapper of some foods, then you know the kind of reaction metal can get in the microwave (via The Kitchn). And while you might be aware of avoiding mistakes like that, there's another thing you should know doesn't do well in the microwave: nothing — it can be dangerous to run the microwave without anything inside of it.

According to The Daily Meal, microwaves need somewhere to put the energy created when they run, otherwise, your microwave simply bounces its waves around inside of itself since there's nothing to absorb the energy. While that might not seem like much trouble at first glance, it can actually cause the entire microwave to explode if you're not careful. However, that might not happen in every case of accidentally microwaving nothing.

This is what one manufacturer says about it

According to the manufacturer of Sub-Zero and Wolf, microwaving nothing could simply result in damaging your microwave even if it doesn't implode from the waves of energy it uses to heat and cook food. And if you are lucky enough to own a microwave made by one of their top-quality brands, then you probably want to take care of it. No one wants to have to replace a perfectly good appliance or pay for repairs when the problem could have been avoided. And that's exactly what you'll have to do if the waves do cause damage to the small appliance.

If you have microwaved nothing and the appliance still works, then this manufacturer says their microwaves are still safe to use. So, not all is lost if you accidentally microwaved nothing for a few seconds and everything was fine. Just keep in mind that the microwave might be a convenient way to heat food in a hurry, but that doesn't mean it's foolproof. Pay attention to what you're doing when you use it every time just as you would the oven or stovetop.