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Any food or health-related hazards from rust inside microwave?

By February 3, 2009 - 1:46pm
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We bought a relatively new home (2001), and for some reason, the built-in microwave has rust in the back corners.

Besides from sounding gross, I'm wondering if there is any possible health risks with heating food up in this microwave?

The food does not directly touch the rust, but I'm not sure exactly how microwaves work and if the rust can become airborne. Does anyone know? Also, I'm not sure what the cause of the rust is; I've never had a microwave do this before (so, possibly the cause of the rust may be more significant than the rust itself?)


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EmpowHER Guest

I like how after two pages of comments no one answered the original question If rust gets on her food If It becomes a health Issue..........

March 22, 2016 - 6:08pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

A microwave works by basically generating RF energy at microwave frequencies and directing those into the cooking chamber. The walls are all metal to reflect the microwave energy into whatever is cooking. The screen on the inside of the front door also reflects the microwaves (they're too big to fit through the holes in the screen), which allows a way to look inside while the oven is operating.

The plastic coating on the inside is basically for appearance (nice and clean white surface) and for ease of cleaning (it's easier to clean than bare metal). And, microwaves do not affect plastic. The frequency of the microwave energy is basically the resonant frequency of water molecules. So, the microwaves cause water molecules to vibrate, resulting in heating from the inside. That's why you can put something like a bowl of ice cream into a microwave and melt it, while the bowl stays cool (there's no molecules in the bowl itself that are excited by the microwave energy).

So, as long as the microwave works properly to heat whatever they put in it, the peeling plastic or rust shouldn't be an issue. It may look terrible and maybe there's a rusty smell from the exposed metal. But, it's not harming the food, nor is there any danger of the rust contaminating the food, as long as it doesn't flake off and fall into the food while it's cooking

May 17, 2016 - 8:26am
EmpowHER Guest

I got GE to give us a voucher to cover most of the cost of a new microwave because of rust on ours in the second year.

October 3, 2015 - 11:38am
EmpowHER Guest

My microwave developed rust after I used steam packets of veggies every night. I didn't think to air it out. It is probably cheaper to buy a new microwave.

October 30, 2014 - 4:35pm
EmpowHER Guest

how much rust is too much? mine is along the entire back of the chamber, along the distance of the turntable circle and some on the door frame.?

May 17, 2014 - 7:09am
EmpowHER Guest

is the rust airborne???? is it harmful to health if door of microwave has rust?f

March 18, 2013 - 8:12am
EmpowHER Guest

It mostly happens with turntable microwaves from the wheels wearing the enamel down over time which could lead to paint flaking, rust, etc. Also if food gets down onto the turntable track, it can even progress the rust issue further.

February 22, 2013 - 2:49am
EmpowHER Guest

thanks for the info, have nagging tenant bothered about a small rust spot, now know what to look for.

May 7, 2012 - 5:47pm
EmpowHER Guest

My apartment complex is trying to charge me damaging this 5 year old microwave because it has rust where the turntable goes around. They said I didn't maintain it properly. I am very unhappy about this but I see rust in the microwave is sort of common. The unit I have is an inexpensive whirlpool and I never used it for anything more than heating water for tea and popping corn. I did not cook meals in it -- I use the oven for that. It never got dirty but I wiped it out regularly.

October 14, 2011 - 9:01am
EmpowHER Guest

{content removed from Moderator}

Repairing a rusty panel
PROBLEM: Your microwave oven has developed some rust on interior surfaces.
Rust that develops on a panel inside the cabinet of a microwave oven can eat through the panel and lead to radiation leakage. It should be repaired as soon as possible. Do the following:

Unplug the unit.
Wipe the damaged surface with a soft rag to remove loose flakes of rust.
If the rust is under a glass shelf, remove be shelf. If the shelf is held by sealer, use a razor blade or utility knife to slice through the sealer. After the shelf has been removed, clean off any strips of sealer that remain.
Buy a spray can of enamel paint for your make of microwave oven from a dealer who sells your type of oven. Also buy a tube of RTV [room temperature vulcanizing) sealer if the unit has a glass shelf.
Following directions on the can of paint, refinish the damage. Let the paint dry.
Install the glass shelf. Then, following directions on the tube of sealer, apply a bead around the edges of the shelf.
Before using the oven, let the sealer cure for the length of time specified in the instructions on the sealer tube.

(I would recommend an epoxy enamel commonly referred to as "appliance paint" sold at most home improvement centers. Also, determine how much rust there is. Strongly recommend a light sanding then the use of a "rust reformer" prior to the epoxy enamel. You don't want the rust to continue oxidizing under the paint.)

January 22, 2011 - 4:35am
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