Is it water that is heated in a microwave or impurities in the water?

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Bryan Byrne

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Bryan Byrne  asked the Naked Scientists:

Listening to you on Second Life right now and having a discussion with someone here about microwaves and water.

Is it water that is heated in a microwave or is it impurities in the water?

What do you think?


Offline JP

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Short answer: the water.

Longer answer: Microwaves heat food because the microwave (electromagnetic field) causes the molecules in the food to wiggle around.  Microwave ovens are designed so that they're most efficient at generating heat in liquid water, but they can cause other molecules to wiggle too: fats and sugars, for example.

You could verify this by microwaving distilled water, which will heat up.