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Toaster ovens are electric kitchen appliances that can be used to toast bread or bake various foods, from frozen pizzas to cake.
Many people don’t realize that these tiny machines emit microwaves that cook food by causing water molecules in their structure to vibrate and heat up.
Do you know if toaster ovens use radiation? In this article, we will explore the answer and what it means for your safety.
What Is a Toaster Oven?
A toaster oven is a compact cooking appliance that has heating elements on the top and bottom. Most toasters have two adjustable positions: toast and broil.
A toaster oven typically has toast settings, bake, broil and keep warm. The timer usually goes up to 30 minutes.
A conventional oven is different because it has a larger capacity (holds more food) and uses radiant heat from the bottom and sometimes the top of the appliance.
Convection ovens circulate hot air with a fan.
Do Toaster Ovens Use Radiation?
Yes. Like many kitchen appliances, a toaster oven uses microwaves to heat food.
This is how it works: the electric current from the wall outlet flows into the machine and excites the metals within it, which begin to warm up and give off electromagnetic energy in the form of microwaves.
The microwaves are attracted to and absorbed by water molecules within the food, which then heats up.
Depending on the power of your toaster oven and how long you leave food in it, this can either take a few minutes or a half-hour.
Microwaving food by causing water in their structure to vibrate and heat up.
The microwave energy produced inside a microwave oven causes electric dipoles in the molecules, with a positive pole facing the inside of the oven and a negative bar on the outside.
These polar molecules rotate as they try to align themselves with alternating electric fields and ionizing radiation produced by microwaves, thus making thermal energy that heats your food.
What are Microwaves?
Microwaves are a type of electromagnetic radiation, a form of non-ionizing radiation.
This means that microwaves do not have enough energy to ionize (knock electrons off) atoms or molecules and therefore cannot cause cancer the way ultraviolet (UV) light from tanning booths can.
Microwaves are used to treat some types of cancer to heat tumors and kill cancer cells.
Do microwaves cook food from the inside out?
Yes. Microwaves are most effective when absorbed by molecules in the middle of whatever you’re cooking.
That’s why many microwaveable dinners instruct you to puncture their plastic film covering with a fork or other sharp object before heating and to let them stand for a few minutes after they’ve finished cooking.
This helps the microwaves penetrate more quickly and efficiently, so you can be eating your perfectly cooked meal sooner.
Toaster Ovens Vs Microwaves
So do toaster ovens use radiation? Yes. But are they as how scary as microwaves works?
Toaster ovens and microwave ovens both use electromagnetic radiation waves for cooking food, but the similarities end there.
The main difference between these two kitchen appliances is how they generate heat.
While a microwave uses alternating electric fields (alternating current, or AC) to cause molecules in the food to vibrate (producing heat), a toaster uses radiant energy from infrared waves.
Radiant heating involves using electromagnetic radiation, like infrared light rays, that directly touch the surface of whatever you’re cooking and transfer their thermal energy into it.
This can be compared with how an untended fire radiates heat and how a direct beam of sunlight can feel hot on your skin.
However, even though most toaster ovens cook food using infrared radiation, which is radiant energy (not microwaves), some do so with microwaves.
Are toaster ovens healthier?
It depends. It depends on what you’re cooking, the temperature to which you’re heating it, how long you leave it in the oven, and probably many other factors.
Even though toaster ovens are generally considered healthier than microwaves, they must be used responsibly and not for extended periods.
That microwave cooking is better than toaster oven cooking comes down to the type of food you’re cooking and how long you’re going to leave it in there.
If your goal is to cook or defrost something quickly ― for example, if you need to soften butter in an instant or blast that frozen burrito until it’s hot and ready to eat ― then you’re probably better off using a microwave.
If, on the other hand, you want to cook something more slowly and gently ― like if you’re going to melt cheese on your pizza at a low temperature or bake delicate pastries that would dry out if put in the oven for too long — then you’re probably better off with a toaster oven.
Whether you choose a microwave or toaster oven is also largely up to personal choice. A microwave will heat your food more quickly, and some people prefer the taste of microwaved food.
However, many people like the idea of having more control over how their food gets cooked, especially when it comes to tenderizing meat without drying it out, and prefer to use a toaster oven for this purpose.
How Does Microwave Radiation Affect Human Beings?
Researchers have suggested that microwaves and other electromagnetic waves which could cause several types of health problems, including:
DNA damage (mutations)
Disruptions in cell metabolism (process for converting food and oxygen into energy in our cells, which can lead to cellular injury or death)
Increased risk of cancer and tumors
Neurological symptoms such as memory loss and impaired concentration
Not everyone responds the same way to EMFs, but those who do feel pain or have other health issues due to exposure may need to take precautions.
In some cases, people can be protected by reducing their overall exposure (for example, using hardwired Internet instead of wireless) or increasing distance from the source (moving a radio away from the head).
Though microwaves are non-ionizing types of radiation, studies have shown the leakage of microwaves from toaster ovens can be hazardous.
You should avoid having a person’s head in the way of a microwave-emitting device, as it could lead to an increased risk for brain cancer and other health issues such as cataracts.
What Are the Benefits of Toaster Ovens?
Though health issues related to microwave emissions are being studied, there are many benefits of cooking with a toaster oven rather than a traditional conventional or convection oven. These include:
Heating food at lower temperatures
Less heat in the kitchen (lower thermal exposure)
More uniform cooking due to smaller size and more efficient heating technology
Ability to cook smaller quantities
Ability to cook more delicate or complex meals, such as full-sized cakes and baked goods
Can use a variety of cooking techniques, such as boiling or steaming
Target areas of meat can be cooked more directly, rather than using indirect oven heat
Can cook for fewer people at the cook time as conventional or convection oven
Many toaster ovens also offer the ability to toast and broil food, so you can “have it all” in a tiny appliance.
What Can Foods Be Cooked in the Toaster Oven?
Toaster oven heats and can cook just about anything, but a few common foods best suit this appliance. For example, you can use your toaster oven to make the following:
Breakfast Sandwiches Easy-to-make breakfast sandwiches are a tasty way to start your day and give you plenty of energy. They are also an excellent alternative to greasy or fried foods.
You can also choose from a variety of bread and meats.
Toast is probably one of the most common items cooked in a toaster oven, but it’s not the only option.
Toasters come with several settings that allow you to change how brown your toast is when it’s finished so that you can make a wide range of toast preferences.
Baked Goods Baked goods are delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Toaster ovens often come with a baking pan that allows you to bake casseroles, bread, and other recipes right in the appliance.
You can also use your toaster oven to broil foods like meat.
Making Bagels If you love bagels, you know that a lot of work goes into them.
While toaster ovens can’t replicate every element of a double-boiled and baked bagel like those from your favorite bagel shop, they do toast well, and most have settings for heating or cooking foods that come in frozen.
Quick Meals Some foods, especially meats, can be cooked in a toaster oven very quickly.
A whole chicken or other significant cuts of meat may take longer than you would like to cook on the stove or conventional oven, but they can be done more quickly with your toaster oven.
Heating up frozen foods
Toasts, bagels, and other bread (some even come with a “crust setting” for extra crispy toasted bread)
Zesting fruit such as lemons or limes
Making popcorn for a small movie night
Reheating leftovers, including whole meals and side dishes
Toaster ovens use radiation for cooking food. If you’re worried about the health implications, you must read your user manual or instruction booklet before using a new appliance for the first time.
It may also be helpful to know how much power is emitted from these devices and what types of materials they are made out of so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not one would work well in your home kitchen.