General Question

Flavio's avatar

Do liquidy foods thaw faster or slower in the microwave?

Asked by Flavio (1107 points ) August 29th, 2010

It’s always a mystery to me why some of my leftovers take so long to thaw in my work microwave and some heat up so fast. I know that the microwave over works by generating friction between the water molecules in food. I don’t know if more liquidy foods heat up faster because of this or if they take longer because more water has to thaw. Any thoughts?

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7 Answers

funkdaddy's avatar

More water/liquid = more heat generated by the microwave… to a certain extent at least.

It also has to do with how fast the heated portions can circulate and spread the heat. It’s like ice cubes in a hot drink, if you can stir the whole mixture to even out the temperature the whole process moves more quickly.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Since the microwave oven works by heating items from the inside out, then it stands to reason that foods will thaw more quickly than other foods depending on how frozen they are in the middle.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It takes 1 BTU of energy to raise a pound of liquid water one degree F. (1 calorie to raise 1 gm of water 1 deg C)
The heat of fusion for water ice is 79.7 BTU/pound (79.7Cal/g)
So it takes 79.7 BTU to melt one pound of ice (79.7 cal for 1 gm of ice.)

You can see that the amount of frozen material in the mix will have a very significant effect on the warm up time.

benhodgson's avatar

Microwaves work by resonating molecules of water, so generally foods with higher water content will heat faster than foods with lower water content.

At the power used in a microwave oven, microwave radiation can only penetrate about half an inch into the surface of your food. For foods with equal water content—assuming uniform distribution of water—those with higher surface area will heat quicker. This is why you should stop the microwave and stir the food while you’re heating it, to allow parts of the food that are not exposed in the outermost half–inch initially to be heated by the radiation.

marinelife's avatar

Less solid foods (life soup) take longer to heat than solid foods like meat.

Flavio's avatar

What a mystery. @worriedguy and @marinelife , it seems you disagree with @benhodgson . How do we combine all this?

MaryW's avatar

Water will heat faster than a solid. But you have to also compare how solid the water and solid are compared to each other. AS you said liquid then I can easily say that it will heat faster than meat.

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