Are microwave ovens harmful? My Penang experiment – Report 1

DAY 1 – 10.01.2014

I have seen articles where people watered two plants, one with microwaved water, and one with boiled water, and the plant watered with microwaved water died, where the other grew normally.  This is easy to try, so I am. Of course, it’s not a double blind study, and I have expectations, but I will treat each pot and germinated plants as equally as possible.

I chose blue pea flower seeds because I grow them,  they germinate easily, I could pick the seeds from the same pods myself, and so as many variables as possible are controlled.

  1. Picked six pods of blue pea flower  seeds
  2. took out seeds from each pod and separated into half
  3. took two or three seeds from each half, totalling 15 seeds in total for each half
  4. now have a mixture of seeds from each pod, separated into two
  5. boiled one cup of water in microwave (2 minutes) and one in kettle and let cool
  6. sterilised two pots, put paper liner in bottom and Tesco no-nutrition soil in to same level
  7. put outside under some cover so will get sun but little rain
  8. sewed the two lots of 15 seeds in pots – one marked for microwave water, and one normal
  9. watered microwave pot with microwave water, and other with kettle boiled water
  10. most days give half a cup of water to each


seeds and pots and water

seeds divided into half from each pod, and pots and water

DAY 2 – no water

DAY 3 – watered with half a cup

DAY 4 – half cup of water – nothing germinated yet

DAY 5 – 14.1 – One seed in each pot has germinated. Half cup water.

DAY 6 – Two seeds germinated in microwave pot, still one in boiled water pot.

DAY 8 – Photo.  One germinated seed has disappeared from microwave pot, so now one per pot. So far there seems to be no difference I can attribute to the different water.

both look healthy

both look healthy

DAY 12 – So far it appears there is little difference.  I’ll see what happens in the next week, and then publish.

2014-01-21 12.00.45s

so far, no significant difference – Day 12

DAY 19 – Nothing seems so different that the water has had an effect.

Day 19 - Microwave has two plants, boiled water has three. All seem healthy

Day 19 – Microwaved water  has two plants, boiled water has three. All seem healthy.

Blue pea flower seeds are quite strong, and with 2/15 germinating with the microwaved water, and 3/15 with the boiled water, I expect that probably more will germinate later. I will transplant to bigger pots later and use for decoration.  But the result of the study showed no difference.




    1. I never eat microwaved food, and I still won’t, but I thought this would be an interesting test.

      I have read that a microwave oven can be used as a Faraday cage, by the way. Useful if you worry about EMP’s.

      1. if u eat out in hotel restaurants, u might be eating reheated foods in microwaves without realising it.
        also steaming fish in a microwave is a really good way of doing it.
        i am not familiar with faraday cage so i googled it. ya, if u are worried about it , a microwave is a good seems. but i operate any sensitive electronic equipment so i dont worry about it. haha.
        let me know how many of the seeds germinated. u mentioned 2, and 3 so far. but it is a very low number. i wonder if boiling water and using that cooled water for plants destroys some nutrition. like using distilled water… that may explain why so few seeds germinated. nothing to do with microwaving it but the act of boiling it with whatever means is detrimental. a control using rain water might help resolve this. another experiment in future, do u think?

      2. I rarely eat where microwaves would be used, although I can’t say never, as I don’t know.

        I did think about rainwater, but it is now the dry season, and hasn’t rained for a while. I try to water my plants with rainwater, and thus collect it, usually. Normally one just waters, and doesn’t heat the water before, but to test the microwave involved heating. The heating is unnatural, as you imply, though.

        I find in the tropics germination rates are generally very low, with some exceptions. It’s not easy growing things here as the heat, and perhaps salty air, makes it difficult.

        As you were saying in one of your blogs recently, one escapes from the UK to the tropics, expecting it to be easier. Then the heat gets to you, and you live with air-cons, or escape to Chang Mai or somewhere to avoid the heat. Well, one also imagines that growing things is easy. It’s not. But one struggles on.

  1. how strange, i always thought things grow easily in the tropics. i mean just look at the jungle, the soil is poor , yet it grows like nobodies business. and in the garden, as long as there is water things just grow. at least when i see people growing bougainvilla, and the ubiquitous hibiscus… now u say it is difficult to grow things and i realise that may explain why my family dont grow that many things in our family garden. we have a large garden but all my parents grew on it are papaya trees,suger cane, tapioca,. (those three are real easy to grow and dont need any attention at all). we grew banana trees until the water inside them we found out were breeding ground for mosquitos and they were cut down. and a single curry leaf bush. it has the most intense flavour ever… we planted a jackfruit tree, its seed came from my grandmother’s (my mother’s mother) jackfruit tree that gives just wonderful fruit) but it got cut down as it grew too big and our house was extended.
    our neighbours got rambutan trees, but they were the cause of his death. he fell whilst harvesting them.
    in the front garden is a mango tree, i think it just grew from a seed thrown on the ground there. it was more used for its shade i think. it was a sour mango variety good for pickling which we never do, so we never harvest it. it is a favourite for all the birds and little creatures around. it got cut down when we wanted that space for the cars.
    we never grew veg. i think because veg are rather cheap to buy but also they are damn difficult to grow esp the ones we like, bok choy and chinese lettuce and chinese brocolli (kai lan) they need a lot of water and good fertilisers which are expensive.
    talking of airconditioning and scuttling in and out, to escape from it or embrace it, are the cinemas as cold as ever? or the shopping centres, or the railway coaches? that cold is wonderful for the first half hour from the heat outside, then it becomes like torture.

    1. You are quite right, of course. Tropical trees grow easily in the ground. Unfortunately I have no ground, and am trying to grow edible things on concrete – meaning mainly vegetables as the plants are smaller than trees. And I have had only limited success. There are a couple of small strips of public land I am doing guerilla gardening on – wide enough only for papaya trees. When lorries don’t hit and kill them they survive, providing I water them every day for a couple of months to get them established. I have my second fruit now just starting to grow after many many months. The first fruit was on a tree that a lorry hit, so never matured as the tree died, and that was about a year ago.

      Yes, cinemas and carriages are still freezing. Malls are not so bad now – I think they are saving electricity, so they are quite pleasant.

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