Vinegar Microwave Explosion: What You Need to Know and How to Avoid It

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Microwaving is a convenient and time-saving way to heat or cook various foods. However, certain combinations or substances can lead to unexpected and sometimes messy situations. One such phenomenon that has garnered attention is the “Vinegar Microwave Explosion.”

In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this occurrence, potential risks, and most importantly, how to avoid it to ensure a safe and efficient kitchen experience.

Why does vinegar explode in the microwave?

Vinegar can potentially cause an explosion in the microwave due to the release of vapors containing acetic acid.

When vinegar is heated in a microwave, the liquid turns into vapor, and the concentration of acetic acid in the vapor can increase.

If the vapor concentration becomes high enough, it may ignite, resulting in a small explosion.

The explosive reaction is more likely to occur when heating vinegar for an extended period or in large quantities.

The acetic acid vapor released during the process can reach a concentration where it becomes flammable, leading to a sudden release of energy and causing a minor explosion.

It’s important to note that while this phenomenon is rare, it is a result of the chemical properties of acetic acid, the primary component of vinegar.

Taking precautions such as using microwave-safe containers, heating small quantities, and avoiding prolonged heating can reduce the risk of a vinegar explosion in the microwave.

Additionally, staying alert and monitoring the heating process can help prevent unexpected incidents.

How long does it take for vinegar to explode in the microwave?

The time it takes for vinegar to potentially lead to an explosion in the microwave can vary based on several factors, including the quantity of vinegar, the specific microwave wattage, and the heating time. In general, the risk of a vinegar explosion increases with prolonged heating.

Vinegar explosions are relatively rare, and most people use vinegar in the microwave for various purposes without encountering such issues.

However, to minimize the risk, it’s advisable to avoid heating vinegar for an extended period or in large quantities.

What should I do if a vinegar explosion occurs in the microwave?

If a vinegar explosion occurs in the microwave, follow these steps to handle the situation safely:

Pause and Assess:

Immediately stop the microwave when you hear or see signs of an explosion. Allow the microwave door to remain closed for a moment to ensure that any lingering steam or vapor settles.

Exercise Caution:

Approach the microwave with caution. Be aware that the contents may be hot, and there might be splatters on the microwave’s interior.

Wait for Cooling:

Give the microwave some time to cool down before attempting to clean or address the situation. This can help reduce the risk of burns.

Open the Microwave Carefully:

Once the microwave has cooled, open the door slowly. Wear protective oven mitts or use a towel to protect your hands from any hot surfaces or spilled liquid.

Inspect and Clean:

Assess the damage and carefully clean any vinegar splatters inside the microwave. Use a mild cleaning solution, such as a mixture of water and vinegar or water and baking soda, to clean the interior surfaces.

Ventilate the Area:

To disperse any lingering vapors or odors, open windows, turn on the kitchen exhaust fan, or use a portable fan to ventilate the area.

Check for Damages:

Examine the microwave for any damages, especially if the explosion was forceful. Ensure that the turntable, door, and other components are intact and functioning properly.

Prevent Future Incidents:

To avoid similar incidents in the future, follow proper guidelines for microwaving liquids, use microwave-safe containers, and be mindful of the quantity and duration of microwaving.

Contact Manufacturer Support (if needed):

If the microwave appears to be damaged or malfunctions after the incident, contact the manufacturer’s support or refer to the appliance manual for guidance on repairs or replacements.

Remember to prioritize safety, and if you have concerns about the state of your microwave after an explosion, it’s advisable to consult with the manufacturer or a professional appliance repair service.

Alternative methods for cleaning the microwave without using vinegar

If you’re concerned about the potential risks of using vinegar in the microwave, there are alternative cleaning solutions you can try. Some safe and effective options include:

  • Lemon juice
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap

By following these tips and using vinegar safely, you can effectively clean your microwave without any risk of explosions.

Safe Alternatives For Cleaning And Deodorizing

If you’ve ever experienced the terrifying sound of a vinegar microwave explosion, you know the importance of finding safer alternatives for cleaning and deodorizing.

Not only can the explosion cause damage to your appliance, but it can also pose serious safety hazards.

Fortunately, there are effective and safe methods for both cleaning microwaves and eliminating odors that don’t involve the use of vinegar.

Safer Cleaning Solutions For Microwaves

  • Water and Baking Soda Solution: Create a solution of equal parts water and baking soda. Place it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it up for a few minutes. The steam generated will help loosen grime and food splatters, making it easier to wipe them away.
  • Lemon and Water: Slice a lemon and place it in a bowl of water. Heat the bowl in the microwave until the water boils. The citric acid in the lemon will help break down grease and leave your microwave smelling fresh.
  • Commercial Microwave Cleaner: There are various microwave-specific cleaners available in the market that are designed to effectively remove tough stains and odors without causing damage to the appliance.

Alternative Methods For Removing Odors

  1. Coffee Grounds: Place a bowl of coffee grounds in the microwave and leave it for a few hours or overnight. The coffee grounds will absorb any lingering odors, leaving your microwave smelling clean.
  2. Vanilla Extract: Mix a few drops of vanilla extract with water in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it for a minute or two. The sweet aroma of vanilla will help mask any unpleasant odors.
  3. Citrus Peels: Save your citrus peels and place them in a bowl of water. Heat the bowl in the microwave until the water boils, and the natural oils in the citrus peels will help deodorize your appliance.

How do you clean a microwave after Vinegar explosion?

Cleaning a microwave after a vinegar explosion requires careful attention to ensure the removal of any splatters and odors.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Materials Needed:

  • Water
  • White vinegar or baking soda
  • Microwave-safe bowl or cup
  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Mild dish soap
  • Paper towels or a dry cloth

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process:

Safety First:

Ensure the microwave is unplugged or turned off before starting the cleaning process. Allow it to cool if the vinegar explosion just occurred.

Remove Removable Parts:

Take out any removable parts, such as the turntable and microwave-safe trays, if applicable. Wash them separately in the sink with warm, soapy water.

Create a Cleaning Solution:

Option 1 (Vinegar Solution): Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a microwave-safe bowl or cup.

Option 2 (Baking Soda Solution): Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with water to form a paste.

Microwave Cleaning Solution:

For the vinegar solution, microwave the bowl for 3-5 minutes until the solution steams.

For the baking soda solution, apply the paste to the interior surfaces.

Let it Sit:

If using the vinegar solution, let it sit for a few minutes after microwaving. If using the baking soda solution, let it sit for at least 15 minutes.

Wipe Down Interior:

For both solutions, use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the interior surfaces of the microwave. 

Pay extra attention to areas with vinegar splatters. The steam from the vinegar solution or the baking soda paste should help loosen dried-on debris.

Clean the Door:

Wipe down the interior of the microwave door, including the edges and the seal, if applicable.

Rinse and Dry:

Dampen a clean cloth with water and wipe down the interior to remove any residue from the cleaning solutions. Dry the interior with a paper towel or a dry cloth.

Clean Exterior:

Wipe down the exterior of the microwave with a damp cloth and mild dish soap if necessary.


Place the turntable and any removed parts back into the microwave.

Ventilate the Area:

Open windows, turn on the kitchen exhaust fan, or use a portable fan to ventilate the area and disperse any lingering odors.


Check for any remaining traces of vinegar or residue. Repeat the cleaning process if needed.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean your microwave after a vinegar explosion, leaving it fresh and ready for your next use.

Tips To Prevent Vinegar Microwave Explosions

Vinegar is a versatile and effective cleaner for microwaves. However, if not used correctly, it can lead to potentially dangerous explosions.

To ensure your microwave is safe and avoid any mishaps, here are some tips to follow:

Proper Microwave Safety Practices

When using vinegar in the microwave, it’s important to adhere to proper safety practices.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Always use a microwave-safe container when heating vinegar.
  • Do not overheat vinegar. Follow the recommended heating time and power settings.
  • Use caution when removing the container from the microwave, as it may be hot.
  • Keep a close eye on the microwave while it’s in use.

Understanding Which Substances To Avoid Heating

Not all substances are safe to heat in the microwave, especially when combined with vinegar.

Here’s a list of substances to avoid heating:

SubstanceReason to Avoid Heating
Oil or greasy foodsCan cause a fire hazard or create smoke
MetalCan cause sparks and damage to the microwave
EggsMay explode due to pressure build-up
AlcoholCan release flammable vapors

Proper Ventilation

Adequate ventilation is crucial when using vinegar in the microwave. This helps prevent the build-up of pressure and decreases the likelihood of an explosion. Ensure that your microwave’s vents are clean and unobstructed.

The Dangers Of Vinegar In The Microwave

Heating vinegar in the microwave may seem harmless, but the truth is, it can be extremely dangerous. Here’s why:

  1. Potential for chemical reactions: Vinegar is an acidic liquid that contains acetic acid. When heated in the microwave, the acid in vinegar can react with other substances present in the microwave, such as the minerals in hard water or metal from utensils, creating potentially harmful chemical reactions. These reactions can release toxic gases and even damage the interior of your microwave.
  2. Increased risk of explosions: Due to the nature of the chemical reactions that can occur when heating vinegar in the microwave, there is a risk of explosions. The build-up of pressure from the reaction, combined with the confinement of the microwave, can cause an explosion that may release hot liquid and potentially injure anyone nearby.

Why Vinegar Should Never Be Heated In The Microwave

Heating vinegar in the microwave should be avoided to prevent explosions. The reaction between vinegar and certain substances can create a build-up of pressure, causing the microwave to explode.

The Science Behind Microwaves And Vinegar

When it comes to heating food in the microwave, most of us are cautious about what we put inside.

However, there’s one common kitchen ingredient that you should never heat in the microwave – vinegar.

Understanding the science behind microwaves and vinegar can help us avoid potential dangers and keep our microwave ovens safe.

Release Of Toxic Fumes

Heating vinegar in the microwave may seem harmless, but it can actually lead to the release of toxic fumes.

When heated, vinegar undergoes a chemical reaction that releases a gas called acetic acid vapor.

This vapor can mix with the air in the microwave and create an acidic environment. In some cases, it may interact with the microwave’s internal components, leading to corrosion and damage.

Additionally, acetic acid vapor has a strong, pungent odor that can linger in the microwave and affect the taste and smell of future meals.

It’s important to note that these fumes can also be irritating to the respiratory system, especially for individuals who have asthma or sensitivities to strong odors.

Finally, heating vinegar in the microwave can be a fire hazard. If the vinegar becomes too hot, it can create steam pressure inside the container.

This pressure can cause the container to burst or explode, potentially causing injuries and damage to the microwave.

To summarize, heating vinegar in the microwave can lead to the release of toxic fumes, damage to the microwave, and potential fire hazards.

It’s best to avoid heating vinegar in this appliance and opt for alternative cleaning methods that are safe and effective.


The Vinegar Microwave Explosion is a rare but avoidable occurrence in the kitchen. By understanding the science behind it and following simple precautions, you can safely use vinegar in the microwave without the risk of unexpected surprises.

Remember to prioritize safety, use microwave-safe containers, and always practice moderation when heating liquids. With these tips, you can continue to enjoy the convenience of microwaving without the fear of a vinegar-induced explosion.

Happy and safe cooking!

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