Please enjoy the original writing, Christian travel journal, and photography by a hapa haole named Gail Rhea.

Original Writing & Photography

by Gail Rhea

 

 

 

MY EXPERIENCE WITH EXPLODING WATER

 

According to http://www.snopes.com/science/microwav.htm:

'...it takes near perfect conditions to bring this about, thus "exploding water" is not something the average hot beverage drinker who would otherwise now be eyeing his microwave with trepidation need fear. Odds are, you'll go through life without ever viewing this phenomenon first-hand, and if you're one of the rare few who does get to see it...'

And, in an article in New Scientist, Richard Barton wrote:

"A portion of the water in the cup is becoming superheated -- the liquid temperature is actually slightly above the boiling point, where it would normally form a gas. In this case, the boiling is hindered by a lack of nucleation sites needed to form the bubbles . . . I imagine that by keeping the cup still and microwaving for a long time, one could blow the entire contents of the cup into the interior of the microwave as soon as you introduced any nucleation sites."

Okay. So, now we know it's supposed to be uncommon (leave it to me!), requires near perfect conditions (but, I wasn't even trying), that I'm not an average hot beverage drinker (hmm...come to think about it, I may not be an average anything) and am, in fact, one of the rare few (yup, I'm an original)...all this without my introducing anything.

Yes, it happened to me on the evening of Thursday, March 13, 2003. I was microwaving 24 oz of water in a 32 oz Pyrex glass measuring cup (wide opening) on a turntable (moving, not still) to make tea although I wasn't stirring it because I didn't know that microwaved water could explode. Maybe the water remained too stable despite the movement of the turntable, a manual wind-up model that I had used it without incident many times before under similar conditions to "boil" water for tea. Anyway, the water went from stillness straight to BLAM! and nearly all the water was blown out of the cup. 

Thank God(!) it exploded in the microwave before I opened the door or I would have been severely burned. It surely did stun the heck out of me and I switched immediately to using a kettle on the stove.

Afterwards, I asked some friends about it who said, "Didn't you know?" and I thought I was the only one ignorant about superheated water. However, in 2005, I was surprised at how many aren't aware of the danger. One man insisted that it couldn't happen to him because he's been doing it for years...as I had. But, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone and two online acquaintances said that it's happened to them, too. 

I did some research and learned that water typically explodes *after* being removed from the microwave. People were scalded without anything to warn them.

For an MPG or Quicktime movie, please see:

 

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/superheating.html.

 

From that evening in 2003 until February 2005 when a friend saw a TV program that said that inserting a microwave-safe object like a wooden stick or plastic stirrer would make it okay, I heated water solely in my kettle. Even now in 2006, I use the microwave to heat water only for green or white teas which need water below the boiling point. I always have a wooden stick in the cup and zap it for no more than 2 minutes.

 

May a word to the wise be sufficient.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright 1993- Gail Rhea.

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