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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Frozen Vegetables Spark in the Microwave

By April 7, 2008

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When I was naming things you shouldn't microwave, I didn't list frozen vegetables. However, WSCH in Portland is running a news story (complete with video) about frozen vegetables sparking when being microwaved. At least two Texas consumers have reported seeing sparks and small flames during the first few seconds of microwaving Green Giant frozen mixed vegetables. The USDA says the vegetables are perfectly safe to eat and that the sparking probably is due to the presence of naturally-occurring minerals found on the produce. Personally I'd guess it's similar to the plasma phenomenon seen when microwaving grapes. I have never seen flames on my veggies while nuking them, but I don't usually watch them cook, so I might be missing out on some entertainment.

Ivory Soap in a Microwave | Toothpicks in a Microwave

Comments

May 10, 2008 at 12:28 pm
(1) Stephanie says:

The same thing happened to me when I microwaved frozen Great Value (WalMart brand) mixed vegetables. It also sparked when I microwaved Del Monte green beans. Not sure what the issue is. I even cleaned the microwave completely to be sure it wasn’t because of any build up per the recommendation of other sites.

October 2, 2008 at 9:31 pm
(2) edward says:

I just bought a new micro as the tech said mine was broke when the Sam’s Club Moxed veggies sparked. email me and I will send a short video of it; so I bought a new micro and it does the same thing. Tried different plates, etc, same thing.
I wonder if there is not something in the bags to keep freshness that has some ore in it. I wish the FDA would test this instead of blowing it off.

April 14, 2009 at 9:33 pm
(3) Greg says:

I am having the same thing happen, BUT, just recently. I’ve microwaved frozen veggies for years and this never happened, so why is it all of a sudden nationwide?

August 19, 2009 at 8:47 am
(4) Elayna says:

Same thing has been happening to me. I thought it was my mircowave, as it was a bit old. So I just got a new, pretty expensive one. Same thing! Plus, what is even more strange is that I use Stop & Shop’s Natures Promise ORGANIC frozen vegetables. It’s also happened with Cascadian Farm Organic Peas & Green Beans. They all spark like I put metal in the microwave plus some smoke and burn.

September 18, 2009 at 9:25 am
(5) rebecognize says:

We had peas spark, and then today sweet potatoes that were already cooked and I warmed them up and got sparks. They were fresh and never frozen. Both times for me it was from reheating cooked veggies (for baby food). Weird.

September 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm
(6) Charles says:

This just happened to me with a fresh sweet potato. I steamed it in the microwave with the skin on and it was ok. Later I cut it up into small chunks and re-heated it in the microwave and the sparks flew.

September 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm
(7) Eric says:

This just happened to me while heating up some green beans. I did some playing around with it and found that if I have a a few pieces in the microwave not touching each other, then there are no sparks. If I touch two of them together, then the sparks and small flame fly! Craziness!

September 23, 2009 at 7:05 pm
(8) Lori says:

I just had it happen with a sweet potato that was baked yesterday, but I cut the leftovers into chunks and heated it today. It leaves little black marks where the sparks came from and you can even smell it! It also happened a few days ago with some frozen green beans that I had already cooked but was reheating. It’s never happened before… what is going on??

October 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm
(9) Micah says:

I chop fresh serrano chilis en mass and then freeze them to keep later meal preparation more simple. Today my chilis burst into flames when I defrosted them in my microwave! I took off the offending chili the off the plate the first time it happened and tried again–same thing happened! Wild!

December 8, 2009 at 6:24 pm
(10) Tiffany says:

This is really alarming. I’ve had this happen on several occasions when reheating green giant previously frozen vegetables. Vegetables should not contain enough of any ore to cause this sparking…

December 26, 2009 at 10:36 pm
(11) That guy says:

lol i figured that out while microwaving carrots mine were cut and edges that were touching were sparking my guess is that at a cut or skiny point the molecules are the thinkist so when in contact with another edge and a microwave it causes the molecules in the minerals to either transfer electrons or cause a reaction

March 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm
(12) James says:

I used to get this when microwaving Aldi’s cheapest mixed frozen veggies. (Australia).
The only thing in my mind that causes this is METAL.
Yes, you can see the burn-holes in the pieces of carrot and beans! So I just don’t buy them!

March 28, 2010 at 12:18 am
(13) Marc says:

Ok, this happened to me a few times today with green beans – after just a few seconds these suckers were lighting up a storm.. once I tried a styrofoam bowl to make sure it wasn’t the other bowl I had used.. 4 seconds and two big “sparks” and there was a hole burned through the bowl about and inch big. I have never seen anything like this before…. Can someone conduct an independent study???

April 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm
(14) D. says:

This just happened to me with frozen green beans. I microwave a lot of veggies and this is the first time it has happened. There wasn’t any metal on the bowl.

May 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm
(15) Jonathan Green says:

I’ve had this same problem, small sparks coming from food (green beans but also potatoes under plastic foil). I wonder if it’s static electricity (the microwave has a turntable inside on plastic wheels). Or simply a microwave antenna which is sending out the wrong kind of waves??
Never had this problem with my old microwave (bought 14 years ago, never any problems) but the new one is really scaring me. Don’t think this can be healthy at all…. Are microwaves checked by any government body at all before they hit the shelves??

May 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm
(16) Krissy says:

I have bought pea/carrot combination from two
different grocery stores and BOTH have sparks, flames
and odor. I thought only metal would cause this in
a microwave! What is causing this??? It doesn’t matter
what brand it is….it still happens!

June 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm
(17) ken says:

i looked for comments on the web about frozen vegetables sparking in a microwave.after years of no problems i have had it happen with 3 different brands of frozen peas and green beans.using canned veg now when i cant find fresh…no more frozen veg!

June 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm
(18) Heather says:

I have had the sparking with many frozen veggies and canned green beans. I never have the sparking if they are covered with water. But yesterday I reheated some cooked “fresh” green beans and the sparking still happened, there was just a small amount of water in the bottom. So I guess fresh, frozen or canned it will still happen.

August 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm
(19) Jim says:

Me too. First it was tiny pieces of chicken for our 1 year old and now it’s beans…. Never did beans before just started happening now???? Very strange and creepy. What are we feeding my son?

October 7, 2010 at 10:11 am
(20) Kelsie Rodgers says:

I think the issue is answered pretty well here:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060911061259AALYJUE

Basically, it has to do with higher mineral contents (iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium) in certain veggies and other factors related to the microwaving process itself.

If you read the ingredients on the side of a frozen veggie bag, nothing is listed but the vegetables (no preservatives, etc.). People also experience the same thing with fresh vegetables.

I think we are all jumping to “worse case” conclusions. Yes, it’s scary when things spark and catch on fire, but the reason can be very simple (and benign).

October 24, 2010 at 5:14 pm
(21) Ali says:

fresh green beans completely fried my microwave… something made a POP and now my microwave no longer functions…. :(

May 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm
(22) Ben says:

I added a cup of water to properly load the microwave and it stopped sparking.

October 17, 2011 at 7:47 pm
(23) wendy says:

I am shocked as I scan down this site and read all these stories! I went to re-heat my asparagus in the microwave and it sparked and popped then caught fire…What!!! Why would this happen it never has happened before…I dont want to settle down at all that is just Freaky and it really scared me!!! Could something be going on with our food? chemicals,processing plants,what and why? Very shocked and nervous!

November 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm
(24) elgobbes says:

I was reheating Birds Eye Steamfresh on a ceramic plate and got sparks. I then took a fresh batch and put them on a paper plate, and still had sparks. I’m just glad I was near the microwave when the sparks started so that I could turn the microwave off before damage could be done.

February 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm
(25) Annie says:

I too had those sparks in my microwave. It’s usually with fresh veggies that were cooked and it sparks when I reheat them. It happened with carrots and sweet potatoes. I thought it might have something to do with orange veggies but as I read other peoples’ comments, it also happens with other kinds… Forzen or non frozen… this is weird! Anybody finally found out what causing that?

February 18, 2012 at 7:34 pm
(26) Sarah G. says:

This has happened to me with fresh, organic vegetables as well! I have cooked/boiled sweet potatoes and carrots for my young son, and on several occasions afterward when I have gone to reheat them in the microwave for him, they immediately start sparking and have emitted flames! This has never happened in all the years I have used the microwave, and now 3 times in the past 6 months.

April 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm
(27) cj says:

Haha…I just googled why my green beans spark in my microwave and I was brought here and read all of your comments. Im glad im not crazy. It was quite a light show in my microwave and luckily it didnt break. I won’t heat them again because it is a little frightening. I assumed there were metal filings or something but a high mineral content is something I’d rather believe.

April 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm
(28) Maginlee says:

In response to the previous post- I did the exact same thing. Greens beans (canned) seem to be the biggest culprit. I am determined to find out why!

May 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm
(29) Steve M says:

We were just heating up some Birds Eye Steamfresh and they sparked started smoking and my Microwave shut down. The Microwave is less than a year old and was not cheap. Anyone else have it break their Microwave?

June 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm
(30) Richard says:

I am having the same issue happening with fresh green beans straight from my garden. We cooked the fresh snapped green beans earlier in the evening. Later I put some in the microwave to munch on before going to bed. They lit up and caught on fire. It is not something coming from the frozen beans or the bags, mine have never seen the freezer or a bag.

July 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm
(31) Amy P says:

I’ve been having this with sweet potatoes as well – I roast them as cubes in the oven and later reheat them in the microwave. But they’ve been sparking and stinking as if I left the fork on the plate when I put them in. Freaks the crap out of me, especially because it’s baby food. I thought maybe it was the dried rosemary on them burning…but it’s too metallic.

Guess I’m sticking with the toaster oven for those.

August 23, 2012 at 10:49 am
(32) Janice says:

I wanted to microwave a few pieces of raw beet to toss on my salad. I put them in a small dish and put them in the microwave. They immediately started sparking . Nothing like this has ever happened before. I was surprised to learn this happens with vegetables.

September 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm
(33) Dave says:

I just had it happen to me. I put frozen green beans in the microwave and sparks and little flames??? I was defrosting them for the dog, (add to food for bulk) per Vet. Didn’t give them to her and had never seen this before.

September 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm
(34) Mickeymomof5 says:

@Richard- What did you use in the way of fertilizer,soil, pesticides, weed killer, etc? I’m curious if there’s a new farming product out there that’s responsible for the increase in ore/metal content in the vegetables.. I also had my green beans spark and they were frozen, but organic…

September 17, 2012 at 10:23 pm
(35) monica says:

I am also here because I thought it might be my microwave but guess not! I starting looking into this today since I had FRESH cauliflower that I cooked a few days ago, spark when I reheated it today. In the past this has happened to me with frozen-then reheated veggies and I just assumed it was due to something when they are frozen but now that it has happened with fresh veggies I am stumped. At least I now know I am not crazy and our microwave is just fine.

October 26, 2012 at 11:53 am
(36) Debbie says:

I’ve also had it happen with ham. I separated the diced pieces because thought it might be because they were touching, but it didn’t work. Interesting to think that covering them with water seems to be the best solution?

November 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm
(37) jammin says:

It happened to me with broccoli today. I am thinking that the culprit has either to do with newer microwaves or (conspiracy theory coming straight from my butt) all the increased radio waves due to cell phones and the internet. This didn’t used to happen years ago with old microwaves. The earliest report I can find of this happening is from 8 years ago. I’m stumped!

December 11, 2012 at 6:47 am
(38) Lori B says:

I had the same thing happen today with fresh peppers. I went on the internet and found this. It makes sense.

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/consumer-centre/food-safety-tips/specific-products-and-risks/vegetable-microwave-/eng/1332278105073/1332278331477

December 23, 2012 at 8:12 pm
(39) Jehman says:

Thanks Lori B for that link. Very interesting.

A solution is to put your veggies in some water (enough to cover them). This seems to eliminate any sparking and weird sounds coming from the microwave.

January 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm
(40) zoom says:

Look up in the skyonunny days. See those shorelines left by high-flying aircraft.you think they’re are contrails right?think again.contrails disappear,these lines do not!!! These are chemtrails.they spread out and turn into whispy clouds.they call it geo-engineering.or weather control.these chemtrails are laced with barium oxide,aluminum oxide,strontium,cadmium and other metals.they fall to earth an contaminate soil,water,an us.people have tested their soil n water and its true.r u beginning to catch on?we grow r food in this soil.it gets in our food.All of it.u think I’m nuts right? Good do your own homework. Look up chemtrails on Google n you tube.type in chemtrails on tv news.look at the pictures,read the reports.type in private pilot films chemplane dropping chemtrails.chemplanes can turn this toxic soup on n off.they don’t turn their engines on n off! !!!.watch video.this goes on worldwide!!! Please don’t believe me,look it up yourself.do your homework.then you will know why are food is sparking in your microwave.

January 31, 2013 at 2:07 pm
(41) Greg beck says:

I just had green beans out of the can spark in my microwave and light on fire. Wow

March 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm
(42) Mandy says:

I make my own baby food and the sweet potato always arcs and burns. Today I actually saw it and it looked like lightning on top of the potatoes. They were frozen from the batch I made. It’s scary and smells horrible and wastes the food I made. No more microwaves for me! It can’t be healthy to eat after its caught fire or had voltage burning it, which I guess in a sense is what a microwave is doing. *sigh* back to pots and pans!

May 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm
(43) Mike b says:

Nobody listens, its because of the high mineral content of your vegetables. It creates an arc. Plain and simple eat them damn it!!! They are fine!!

August 1, 2013 at 9:50 pm
(44) Jessie says:

We have been having this happen with edamame and green beans for the past few months. Both had been cooked from frozen, either boiled or steamed in the bag in the microwave and then we refrigerated the leftovers. When reheating them in the microwave they spark! My husband told me the edamame were sparking for weeks before I witnessed it myself. But the green beans are doing it more and even catching on fire (a little bit) and burning the ends.

August 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm
(45) K hughes says:
August 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm
(46) Jackie says:

About.com — Could you please investigate the safety of these microwave bags? We’ve used them for YEARS, and while I’ve read that they do not contain pthalates or BPA and the FDA says they are safe (where this evidence is, I don’t know), I am beginning to wonder how microwaving food in plastic is tested and what the results tell us. Thanks.

August 31, 2013 at 2:59 pm
(47) Jamie says:

My wife and just experienced this for the first time with garden raised and canned green beans.

October 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm
(48) Taylor says:

The same thing just happened to me with frozen chicken strips.

November 20, 2013 at 5:44 pm
(49) Ruth says:

I roast beets in the overn, then reheating them they spark and they like smoke!! Whats up? I just heat them in a pan on the stove now.

January 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm
(50) Lora says:

I placed frozen chopped onion, celery, bell peppers (combo) in my microwave last night, on a microwaveable paper plate and sparks and fire and smoke started immediately. I wander if there’s pieces of metal from the machines at their processing plant???

February 20, 2014 at 11:55 pm
(51) Matt says:

I’ve had a few different brands (organic and inorganic) spark and flame in the microwave in the past few months. My mom uses microwaves for everything and has never seen this until now. So, I think the many comments on here stating it is from the minerals in the food are right, but the fact that it is happening more and more and no one had reported it in the past makes me think that they have higher levels of minerals and maybe there is a limit to how high the mineral levels can be (and what types) in order to still be safe. Cooking them in pans instead does not solve the problem, you just don’t get the burning. You still have the high levels of metals that are seemingly a new phenomenon. Hate to say it, but Bill Gates is on the record for funding private geo-engineering to combat global warming, spraying nano particles of aluminum and barium into the air, all over the planet. Organic veggies or not, soil samples have shown an 800% rise in these metals. They are not benign in these forms. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf0khstYDLA

March 12, 2014 at 2:49 pm
(52) Sharon says:

We have never had sparking in the microwave, but do not use it for cooking. Just reheating and defrosting.

BUT!! Today, I put 3 small pieces *under 1″ size) of frozen cooked Basa fish on a microwave-safe dish and turned on defrost for 20 seconds. Immediately sparks flew and the smell was awful.

Something very strange and sinister is going on. This is obviously not confined to vegetables, or to cooking foods. It is also happening with sea food, chicken, defrosting so far.

So the theory about more metals in vegetables is NOT the reason!

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