Are Microwaves Safe and Are There Alternatives?

This post may contain affiliate links.

Are Microwaves Safe

Are microwaves safe? The truth is, the experts aren’t sure, and that’s enough uncertainty to motivated us to find and use alternatives for heating our food.

Over the past few years, we have been trying to use our microwave less and less. This has posed a few challenges as we try to break the habit of “nuking” food just because it’s quick and convenient. We have adopted several new techniques for warming food and liquids as we phase this handy little kitchen tool out of our lives.

Are Microwaves Safe?

Without going into the science of how microwaves work (it’s all a little too complicated for me), I will just say that there’s enough information to make me nervous about using one. So nervous that I can sometimes be found ducking beneath the microwave or hiding around the corner when I have succumbed to using it. I have read about the molecular structure of food being changed when microwaved, thus destroying much of the nutrients. The use of microwaves is a personal preference, and it’s something Matt and I are finding alternatives for.

If you are on the fence about microwaves, maybe the following tips will challenge you to join us in The Great Microwave Phase-Out! (Okay, no such thing exists, but it always sounds fun to be part of something big so we’ll pretend.)

Microwave popcorn alternative

I won’t judge you if you eat microwave popcorn, but it’s one of the items on my “Things That Were Never Meant To Be Microwaved” list. I have been using the same cheap air popper since 1996, and it’s still kicking out killer batches on a regular (almost nightly) basis. I see air poppers at second-hand stores all the time for only a few dollars if you want to try this option without purchasing brand new.

Popcorn is also excellent when made on the stovetop with oil. You can make it in a regular pan with a lid or in a stovetop popcorn popper. My dad would make popcorn on the stove when I was little, and I remember it being one of the most indulgent snacks of my youth. (I won’t suggest Jiffy Pop as an alternative, because the list of ingredients scares me a bit.)

Heating water

Warming up water for beverages, hot cereals, noodles, or baking will only take a few extra minutes on the stove. Grab a pot or a tea kettle and warm it to your liking. The good part? No extra dishes will need to be washed because it was only water.

One idea is a water dispenser with a hot water tap built in; talk about convenient and fast! The downside is those heating elements burn a lot of electricity.

Reheating leftovers

Matt and I love our leftovers. We have been using a cast iron dutch oven on the stovetop to warm things like soups, stews, rice dishes, even noodles. Covered with a lid, it only takes a few minutes to get things to the desired temperature – and the even heat means no “hot spots.” You can also throw a dutch oven or an oven safe pyrex dish into the oven for casseroles, meat, or any other leftover dishes. Preheating the oven takes some time and uses more energy, so the stovetop dutch oven method has become our favorite.

If you own a toaster oven, this is another great way to warm up leftovers. They generally take up less counter space than a microwave and give lifeless leftovers a nice crispy finish. Matt and I put droopy, soggy restaurant leftovers on a cookie sheet in the oven for 10 minutes to resurrect them to their once tasty state. (Think burger and fries from your favorite burger joint!)

Infrared ovens like the NuWave are another option for warming food. I have seen the infomercials for these but don’t have personal experience using one. They have a fan that blows the heat around inside to ensure even cooking. Because the heat circulates, it won’t end up trapped at the top as it can in conventional ovens. Several of our friends use a convection oven for all their cooking and reheating, and they swear by its usefulness.

If you wonder, “are microwaves safe?” It makes sense to use these other methods to reheat your food.

Melting moments

It seems like I’m constantly melting butter, either for baking or for drizzling on my popcorn. Our gas stove melts butter in less than a minute in a small pan. This is probably less time than microwaving when you factor in all the time you waste checking on the spattering butter.

There are a few other things we used to melt or thaw in the microwave, that we now just run under hot water, heat in a double boiler, or submerge in a sink of hot water.

Bread and rolls

Since I’m a huge carb-aholic, I frequently warm rolls and bread to go with meals. These can be warmed on a cookie sheet in the oven or under the broiler for just a few minutes. A toaster oven or regular toaster could also be used on a low setting.

Can you live without your microwave?

Want to know what else is on my “Things That Were Never Meant to be Microwaved” list? Brownies. I made microwaved chocolate brownies in a mug one desperate night, and Matt begged me to never try it again. It made both of us gag, and I vowed to always take the extra time to do it right.

We’re learning to live without the convenience of microwaving, although we still own one, and it’s not as tough as I thought it would be. (And it’s saving me from having to compulsively hide from the microwave’s rays.) The easiest way to stop using the microwave is to simply get rid of it. Trust me, you’ll find alternatives.

Are microwaves safe to you, and have you found a way around using microwaves?

You may also want to check out our article on the safest cookware and bakeware.

*******

Betsy Jabs

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebook, Twitter, and her +Betsy Jabs Google profile.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for us to support our website activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website.

DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.

Comments

  1. Jnell says

    My family has not had a microwave in our home for almost 3 years now, we often hear “where’s your microwave?” or “why don’t you have a microwave?”, once someone even said “there cheap, I can buy you one if you want?” lol We tell people that we don’t want one and there usually shocked. But honestly I find that we eat much better without one, because using the stove or oven takes more time, so we end up not snacking on quick meals, or late night goodies as often.

    Great article, thanks for sharing!

  2. Cheryl says

    I have been seeing an alternative Dr. because I had breast cancer & he will not let youuse a microwave. He gave me some info to read about it & basically it changes the molecular structure of the food soit renders it to have very little if any food value left. Also, it does something to your insides because of ingesting the food made in a micowave. So, we just sold our only 1 year old microwave at our rummage sale we had this past weekend. We’ve certainly adjusted to heating on the stove just fine, you do dirty a few more kettles, but I’d rather have better health instead!

  3. sylvie says

    My husband does not believe in microwaves. When we got married 12 years ago the only thing he said no to me was about getting a microwave. Since I got everything else I decided not to let it go but in back of my mind I knew my grandmother had one and was storing plastic bags in it (because she also though the ray’s where bad for you) so I though I would ask her for it. I was home alone a lot at night so I though it was an easy fix for dinners but was not allowed to use it when my husband was home. As soon as I found out we were pregnant my husband say no more microwave. He got rid of it to make sure we would never use it as a last resort to warm up baby milk or food. Its been 11 year now I don’t have it and I don’t miss it. We use the stove top or oven to cook, boil or reheat what we need

  4. Bobby says

    Wow, the ignorance displayed here is scary. I don’t really know where to begin, but here are a few points:

    1. Many people clearly don’t understand what radiation is and the difference between radiation (which is everywhere) and BAD radiation.

    2. Cooking on the stove creates radiation and changes the molecular structure of food just like any other source of heat.

    3. The difference in time is NOT negligible as many claim. The reason I ended up at this site in the first place is that today I spent 20 minutes cleaning up the stove after my wife refused to use the microwave to heat up some soup. Most food can be heated up in the same container that you’ll eat from, instead of having to wash a pot AND a plate/bowl.

  5. Marlies Bates says

    We got rid of our microwave when we started our kitchen remodel a few months back as it did not fit into the layout. I reheat everything on top of the stove or in the oven. It does take a little longer but definitely worth it healthwise. My mother in law came for dinner one day and wanted to know how on earth do I cook without it– I simply told her the old fashioned way. I do not miss it except when my husband or I need to warm up the herbal bag for pain relief. Any suggestions?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      What about using a pan with a little boiling water in the bottom, with a glass bowl that rests within the pan (without touching the water), and basically steaming your herbal bag? Put a lid on the whole thing to trap the steam and check periodically to see if the bag is warm enough.

  6. Amanda says

    I forgot to add to check into a butter bell crock-keeps butter fresh and room temp on the counter for a week 😉 easy breezy!

  7. Amanda says

    This is awesome info! Found out about giving the microwave the boot from Dr. Group’s book Green Body Cleanse and now it holds my teas, honey and dry goods & is used as a timer. I have found my warming drawer to be a great substitute along with over broiler for melting. It has been a relatively easy change and that is with four kids under 8! Living well offers a lot of benefits 😉 in exchange the for effort required! ~

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Amanda…you’re sure to be an inspiration to others who are desiring a change, but are too scared it will be difficult! I love that you’re not afraid of a little extra time commitment in exchange for a healthier family. 🙂

  8. Amy Manly says

    I have found myself unsatisfied with microwaving lately as I prepare my baby’s homemade goodness frozen food cubes. I have been using a small pot to boil water on the stove top and insert the pyrex glass container of previously frozen (thawed for the day in the frige) food. This method has been working much better for us. I feel my baby is still getting the goodness I intended.

  9. Karla says

    Thank you! I’ve been thinking about other ways to healthier eating for a while now, and we’ve implemented a lot of changes in our household towards that goal. I enjoy your newsletter and have gleaned some great ideas from your articles. I really appreciate all the hard work and research. Getting rid of the microwave will be my next project.
    A tip for those needing to thaw frozen foods; I found a large marble cutting board at a thrift store years ago, and used it for cutting pie crusts and cookie dough. A company started selling these ‘miracle’ boards to thaw foods but I was too cheap to by one. I went to the “As Seen on TV” store and looked at it. The material was similar to marble. We started using the marble cutting board to thaw foods. I don’t know why it works, and it doesn’t work instantly but, it seems to draw the cold out of the food. Since the marble also stays cold, it doesn’t allow the food to reach air temperature. We take a package of meat from the freezer, put it on the marble, and flip it once in a while. Depending on the thickness of the frozen food, it can take several hours. If it needs a boost, just put it in a sink of cool water, and change the water every 15 minutes or so. Like I said, not done in a few minutes, but infinitely healthier.
    P.S. We put our Thanksgiving turkey in a large Coleman ice chest (cooler) for a couple of days to thaw. We turn it over several times to get it to thaw evenly. The cooler keeps it cold enough to still be healthy, but saves a lot of space in the fridge.

  10. Ariel says

    We ended up living w.o a microwave very similarly to Jill. The microwave caught on fire while using it! We were moving in a month and waited to purchase a replacement. It has been 3 months since moving. Only once have we thought it would be nice to have to heat up food quickly, and that was only because our friend asked where the microwave was.

    It is also a great way to get other members of the family to step out of their comfort zone and use a stove/oven. Love teh site – thanks.

  11. Janine Jorgensen says

    We have been without a microwave in our home for the past nearly six years. I had a friend going through cancer treatment that told me some risks involved in microwaving foods. I seldom cooked with one but did use one to reheat food. We were buying a house at the time and had a garage sale to prepare for moving and sold the microwave. We got used to reheating our foods the old fashioned way in pots and pans as we did when we were growing up and have done it ever since. We make air pop popcorn and keep a tea kettle on the stove for reheating beverages. I have even heated up coffee in a saucepan. I occasionally use a non stick pan to reheat some foods but am very careful of the utensils I use as there are risks with non stick cookware as well.

  12. Danielle says

    I was raised in a household where you used the microwave for defrosting meats, heating up leftovers, or making rice/instant potatoes. My mom even taught my sister at the age of 5 to use the microwave to make eggs. Not bad for a little kid but the eggs are rubbery. Since I have been married I have used the microwave alot less then growing up and I read all the time about the different articles about whats bad about them and then the articles saying they aren’t bad. I don’t really care now, but the reason I want to stop using my microwave is one it takes up to much space two mince doesn’t work that well and three I don’t know if they are really that unhealthy for you or not. So i might as well not use it, but my problem is I can’t get rid of it. My husband won’t allow me too. He still uses it alot. We even have a toaster oven, but he chooses the microwave over the toaster oven. I reheat things on the stove, oven. Any way other than the microwave. Oh by the way I absolutely love your site and have even made the scrubs, shampoo. Thanks for all the great information. It helps alot and I hope to be raising my future children in a much healthier household.

    • Matt Jabs says

      Great to hear Danielle, glad you found us too. My advice is to let your husband do what he wants and just continue to be an example by choosing to not use it whenever you are making things. It may take awhile, but he may come around, especially if you find info supporting your position and show it to him.

  13. Nina Nelson says

    After talking about not using a microwave for a while, we moved into a house that didn’t come with one. So we didn’t buy one. Not enough counter space anyway. 🙂 We reheat almost everything on the stove top. Everything else goes in the toaster oven or oven. For melting butter or coconut oil, we measure what we need in the measuring cup and just put that on the burner on low (it’s heat-safe metal). I love not having one and if we ever get a house with one again, we’ll use it for storage. 😉

  14. Janice says

    Wow, I am inspired again to not use the microwave at all. I haven’t had a toaster oven since 1977 and am rethinking that one now. Thank you to all of you who care about your health and the health of loved ones. This was fun reading and I love the bread box idea.

  15. Jason says

    One other method I use is steaming. Sometimes you don’t want things to dry out in the toaster oven and you want to retain moisture. Get a pot and put an inch of water at the bottom. Get a glass bowl that fits in the pot and place your food in the bowl. Cover. As the water boils it creates a steam and it keep moist the food that you don’t want dried out. If you have a steamer, better yet. Takes a little longer, but its not the microwave!

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Yes! Thank you Jason, I totally forgot to include steaming as a wonderful option that also helps retain nutrients in our food! Veggies in particular taste so much better steamed rather than boiled or cooked in the microwave. 🙂

  16. Megan Shaw says

    I have not had a microwave in over 10 years and do not miss it. The toaster oven is my best friend for reheating. I truly believe microwaves zap out the vital nutrients which are the reason we are eating in the first place.

  17. Patty says

    Thank you! I thought I was the only one ducking. I don’t like the darn thing and know we can live without it. Forwarding this to my family!

!-- END Aweber Lightbox code -->