The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-24-2001, 11:47 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
Try it all you get is hot damp clothes.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 02-25-2001, 12:11 AM
Ice Wolf Ice Wolf is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 8,378
Real quick WAG:
Microwaves don't evaporate water particles -- they excite them to the point of cooking heat.

Therefore, your dryer (which evaporates to water vapour) works on clothes, while your microwave is terrific for lasagna.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-25-2001, 12:18 AM
friedo friedo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 20,622
You probably could dry your clothes in a Microwave, but you'd probably end up with roasted undies.

Clothes dryers work by heating up the clothes with fire (or electricity) causing the water to evaporate. Microwaves cause proteins, sugars and such to wiggle around, adding energy to them and causing them to heat up. They also cause the same thing to happen to water. Most of your clothes are probably made of cotton and synthetic materials, so all that's happening is that you're heating the water, not the clothes.
__________________
Friedo
Ignoramus Primus

"And a singularly consistent investigation you have made, my dear Watson. I cannot at the moment recall any possible blunder which you have omitted."
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-25-2001, 12:20 AM
friedo friedo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 20,622
...And one more thing; the microwave oven does not have a vent for the steam to come out of. Since the air inside the microwave is not hot at all, the water that does evaporate probably condenses immediately.
__________________
Friedo
Ignoramus Primus

"And a singularly consistent investigation you have made, my dear Watson. I cannot at the moment recall any possible blunder which you have omitted."
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-25-2001, 03:05 AM
Mikahw Mikahw is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
I don't know about your microwave, but mine Has a vent for the steam (and fan-forced air) to come out. Although, the timer doesn't work anymore, and you have to unplug it to turn it off.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-25-2001, 03:07 AM
starfish starfish is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
A dryer blows air so as the water evaporates, the moist air exits and more dry air enters. This continues until all of the water has evaporated.

A microwave is sealed. Water does evaporate from the wet clothes, but the air in the microwave becomes saturated with moisture and evaporation stops.

If you could blow air though the microwave, it could be used to dry clothes. It still won't work as good as a clothes dryer since the clothes are not tumbled. The surface of the pile of clothes would dry fast, the inside of the pile would stay wet for a while.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-25-2001, 03:29 AM
Mikahw Mikahw is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
What, the Fan in my microwave is a rare feature?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-25-2001, 04:22 AM
Nimue Nimue is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
I was recently one of the recipients of an e-mail exchange between two family members regarding microwaves. (I know -- they talk about the strangest things). My father seems to know a lot about them. While he doesn't specifically mention clothes, he does warn not to try to "dry" ignitable substances in the microwave. This is an except from his e-mail.

Quote:
However, there is one other thing to understand about microwave heating. It is superheating, becuase what you are doing is heating water (doesn't really matter what system, it's all heating of moisture, i.e., water) at the molecular level. Microwave does this by getting water molecules to flip their orientation (molecular alignment) very rapidly and the friction of molecule against molecule causes the heat.

I warn against drying potentially ignitable substances (like paper that is wet) in a microwave because depending on the system in which the moisture is contained these water molecules can cause heating way beyond 212F. So, if you were drying a filter for instance (I know because I did this in a study that I was working on at work years ago) in a microwave, you can ignite it when the material reaches a heat level high enough to ignite the hydrocarbons. With plenty of oxygen available, it's very flammable. It melted down a plastic measuring tray when the paper filter ignited. Glad I was in the lab to catch it, but that's another story. And this was in a system where moisture could freely escape and reduce the heat potential. In a system where moisture is not able to break the surface tension as easily, they get even hotter.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-25-2001, 05:42 AM
AWB AWB is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Quote:
Originally posted by Mikahw
What, the Fan in my microwave is a rare feature?
The fan is probably for the turntable motor and/or the magnatron tube (which makes microwave radiation).
__________________
Merry Christmas from Courtney, the cutest child in the world!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-25-2001, 05:48 AM
AWB AWB is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Why can you dry clothes in a microwave?

Quote:
Originally posted by Markxxx
Try it all you get is hot damp clothes.
I'm confused, Mark. You ask why you can, but then say you can't.

I have dried clothing items and wet money in a microwave, but it's a multi-step process. Usually, it's just a small item like socks. I wring it of most of the moisture, then nuke it for 1 minute. After that, I pull it out (with tongs) and swing it around the room. It cools down as those water molecules that had just enough energy leave my socks. I feel the socks, and if they're still wet I do it again. But I'd never try this with a large garment.
__________________
Merry Christmas from Courtney, the cutest child in the world!
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-25-2001, 10:26 AM
handy handy is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Pacific Grove, Calif
Posts: 17,493
Microwave ovens are frequently used to warm towels for the hands. Also, if your feet are cold, putting dry socks into it for just a little bit can make the socks warm & feel nice when you put them on.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02-25-2001, 11:48 AM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
The fan is a combo fan and stirrer. The main purpose is to 'mix' the microwave energy evenly. the air is also circulated by it but since their is only 1 vent, you don't get that much air exchange.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 02-25-2001, 12:11 PM
Squink Squink is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
I dropped a book I was reading into a puddle, and attempted to dry it using a microwave oven. Things seemed to be going very well until the book caught fire.
I don't think the books subject matter "The Gnostic Gospels" had anything to do with the catastrophe.

-Dryers force a LOT of dry air past the clothes. A microwave oven, even with a fan doesn't get rid of the heated water/steam quickly enough to dry things efficiently.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02-25-2001, 04:18 PM
Mikahw Mikahw is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
I donno, I read the manual a while ago (old Emerson btw) and it said something about having a fan for air circulation. It has 2 vents on either side of the microwave chamber. When I stick my hand near the back of the microwave, I can feel a lot of air coming out. I can also smell the food from a mile away.

Then again, I remember my Grandpa's Microwave, and I don't remember seeing any vents.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 02-25-2001, 04:52 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: On the dance floor.
Posts: 14,901
Both of my microwaves (8 years and 3 years old) vent steam to the outside - you can watch it come out the back as they work.
__________________
SDMB records held:
* Most title changes
* Longest Ignore list
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 02-25-2001, 04:55 PM
Una Persson Una Persson is offline
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: On the dance floor.
Posts: 14,901
Quote:
Originally posted by Nimue
However, there is one other thing to understand about microwave heating. It is superheating, becuase what you are doing is heating water (doesn't really matter what system, it's all heating of moisture, i.e., water) at the molecular level. Microwave does this by getting water molecules to flip their orientation (molecular alignment) very rapidly and the friction of molecule against molecule causes the heat.

I warn against drying potentially ignitable substances (like paper that is wet) in a microwave because depending on the system in which the moisture is contained these water molecules can cause heating way beyond 212F.
Your father is correct; not many people know this.
__________________
SDMB records held:
* Most title changes
* Longest Ignore list
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 02-26-2001, 08:45 AM
Anachronism Anachronism is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Quote:
Originally posted by AWB
Usually, it's just a small item like socks. I wring it of most of the moisture, then nuke it for 1 minute. After that, I pull it out (with tongs) and swing it around the room. It cools down as those water molecules that had just enough energy leave my socks. I feel the socks, and if they're still wet I do it again
The mental image of this has had me laughing for the past 24 hours, I am at a loss for a smart ass comment.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 02-26-2001, 11:06 AM
Ring Ring is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Quote:
"Microwave ovens are frequently used to warm towels for the hands. Also, if your feet are cold, putting dry socks into it for just a little bit can make the socks warm & feel nice when you put them on."
My feet are always cold, so I also started heating my shoes in the microwave. In my usual manner I figured if 50 seconds was good a couple of minutes would be even better - melted my damn shoes!
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 02-26-2001, 01:27 PM
malaka malaka is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Quote:
Originally posted by Ring
My feet are always cold, so I also started heating my shoes in the microwave.
Remind me never to eat anything prepared in your microwave!
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:55 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.