Fake News: Putting A Tinfoil Sphere In A Microwave Oven Will NOT Make It Smooth And Shiny -- But It Might Cause Fire

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Putting A Tinfoil Sphere In A Microwave Oven Will NOT Make It Smooth And Shiny -- But It Might Cause Fire

Does forming tinfoil into a sphere and microwaving it for 6 to 7 minutes cause it to smooth out and become shiny? No, that's not true: it will cause sparks and flashes and might even result in fire, despite what a viral image on the internet is claiming.

An example of the image can be seen in this post (archived here). We embedded it below:

Here is the image in question:


(Do not do this!)

There are plenty of articles warning you about not putting tinfoil (or metal in general) in a microwave oven. The radio waves used by such ovens will cause electrical currents to start flowing through the metal or foil, leading to sparking and heating that might even cause a fire.

What if I put aluminum foil in the microwave?

The microwave oven is one of the great inventions of the 20th century -- you can find them in millions of homes and offices around the world. At one time or another, we've all been told not to use metal products, especially aluminum foil, when cooking­ with a microwave oven.

You can see this effect very clearly in this video:

Another video explains the origin of this meme:

Several people in Japan made shiny balls out of aluminum foil by hammering and sanding and polishing away for a long time. And then someone made an image claiming it could be done in a few minutes using a microwave oven, probably as a joke. The video suggests it originated with this tweet (archived here):

The creator distanced himself from any consequences the day after though:

So don't try this at home!

  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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