# Microwaving a teabag along with its metal staple

#### cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,370
This is how I normally make tea:
• I take a teabag, and remove its string and staple
• Then I wrap the string around the teabag and make a tight knot, to keep it from opening and spilling its contents
• I pour some water in a cup, add sugar, and in goes the staple-less teabag.
• Then I microwave the thing for a typical 1:15 minutes

Thing is, I always remove the miniature staple that keeps the teabag closed and holds its string together. I do that using my bare nails, and it's a very annoying procedure.

Question, what would happen if I were to microwave the teacup by just detaching the string, and dropped the teabag in the water-filled teacup without removing the staple? Would sparks fly? Would the microwave go kaboom on me?

To the mods: I've placed this question in the GEC forum instead of Off Topic, because some sophisticated technical explanation might be produced, and/or advanced physics principles are brought up. But feel free to move it to a more proper place if you think it better suits the subject.

#### nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
6,215
The exposed staple would short the spacetime continuum allowing the monsters to cross over into this dimension. Keep it underwater or at least near a cup of water. The EM energy is absorbed by the water like a shield, reducing the amount of energy concentrated into the metal conductor.

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#### Natakel

Joined Oct 11, 2008
61
I always have left the staple in when making tea this way. It's never manifested any issues, nor even any indications of issue (such as sparks, or a change in the noise the tube makes) . . . but for all I know it could be causing incremental damage to the tube.

I also would be interested in a professional opinion of any possible problems by leaving the staple in.

#### Natakel

Joined Oct 11, 2008
61
The exposed staple would short the spacetime continuum allowing the monsters to cross over into this dimension. Keep it underwater. The EM energy is absorbed by the water like a shield, reducing the amount of energy concentrated into the metal conductor.
Just saw this answer when I posted.

The interdimensional monster theory would explain the crazy cat my wife adopted . . . it has to be from another reality.

#### GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
This is how I normally make tea:
• I take a teabag, and remove its string and staple
• ...
• Then I microwave the thing for a typical 1:15 minutes
.​
How can you enjoy tea when you microwave it for only 115. You should increase that to 80 or 90.

and after reading this, you’ll always save yourself a keystroke by entering 75

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#### nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
6,215

You can view the absorption of microwave energy inside the microwave much like the above illustration. Each object represents a load on the total about of energy from the magnetron into the chamber. A cup of water (like the 10 kg ball) creates a power sink that absorbs much of the available energy leaving little free energy to be absorbed by the smaller balls (like a staple) . But if the small ball (staple) is the only sink then it can absorb a much greater amount of the total available free energy. This is what lets the monsters in.

#### GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
PS, the proper way to make tea is to heat the water and THEN put the tea bag into the cup. Let it set for perfect time and then pull it out.

Therefore, the answer to your question, it doesn’t matter if staples can go in the microwave, because teabags shouldn’t go in the microwave.

#### cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,370
PS, the proper way to make tea is to heat the water and THEN put the tea bag into the cup. Let it set for perfect time and then pull it out.

Therefore, the answer to your question, it doesn’t matter if staples can go in the microwave, because teabags shouldn’t go in the microwave.
I beg to differ... I found that tea releases a more intense (and pleasant, at least for me) flavor when it's done this way...

and after reading this, you’ll always save yourself a keystroke by entering 75
In that case, I'll just time it to 1:11 and my finger won't have to travel uselessly around the keypad finding any other digits... never mind the missing 4 seconds

I also would be interested in a professional opinion of any possible problems by leaving the staple in.
So would I ... but I guess that rules NSA's opinion out, mainly because:
The exposed staple would short the spacetime continuum allowing the monsters to cross over into this dimension.
... his area of expertise seems to be all things related to Dr Who...

#### cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,370
A cup of water (like the 10 kg ball) creates a power sink that absorbs much of the available energy leaving little free energy to be absorbed by the smaller balls (like a staple)
I was under the impression that the staple would actually reflect the microwaves, possibly damaging the magnetron

#### Natakel

Joined Oct 11, 2008
61
PS, the proper way to make tea is to heat the water and THEN put the tea bag into the cup. Let it set for perfect time and then pull it out.

Therefore, the answer to your question, it doesn’t matter if staples can go in the microwave, because teabags shouldn’t go in the microwave.
I agree, if you are having a normal cup of tea. When I microwave a tea bag, I'm making unsweetened iced tea for my wife. It's quick, and she likes it.

Sometimes depending on what she asks for, I'll nuke a regular bag along with a specialty flavored tea. About 2.5 minutes (varies), and then pour it into a large glass that is filled with ice. Add a bit more water or ice, and presto . . . three minute iced tea.

#### ajune

Joined Oct 24, 2017
10
Hi,
I Supposed the only safety in the staples inside, while it turn on the microwave just wait till the main fuse ac line blown(if available)
Magnetron will not easily damage on that time.

#### nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
6,215
I was under the impression that the staple would actually reflect the microwaves, possibly damaging the magnetron
Yes, a small staple represents a sharp impedance discontinuity from free space (but less of a discontinuity if it's near another large conductor within that space absorbing energy) but it also has the dissipate resistive component of the poor metal conductor that absorbs energy from the Voltage standing waves. The poor lone staple would vaporize long before the magnetron is damaged.

#### Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
3,468
and after reading this, you’ll always save yourself a keystroke by entering 75
Drives me nuts when my wife sets the microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. I always go for 90 seconds, one less button to push. And she still can't figure out how I push only two buttons and immediately have the microwave run for two minutes (hint: I push the "Add Minute" button twice). She'll hit the 2, the 0, another 0 and then the enter button. Four key strokes whereas I get it done in just two. Even 3 minutes is one less button push than the four her way. 4 minutes and anything higher it's shorter to enter the cook time and hit start.  Hitting the add minute button 4 times is SHORTER than the 4, the 0, another 0 and the start button. {end edit}

In that case, I'll just time it to 1:11 and my finger won't have to travel uselessly around the keypad finding any other digits... never mind the missing 4 seconds
To me; 9 seconds is nearly as good as 10 seconds.

I was under the impression that the staple would actually reflect the microwaves, possibly damaging the magnetron
I've seen (when my wife left onion bits on the carousel) onions spark. Apparently they're rather conductive. However, as conductors, they would likely bring tears to your eyes.

Ever put something in the MW oven and it comes out golden brown? That won't happen normally, so the processed food packager will include a conductive film (chicken pot pies) that heats up and cooks the crust to a golden brown (provided you use the proper time). Metal in a MWO is not advised, but it's also not the death of the oven. The magnetron is capable of producing whatever amount of energy it is capable of. If you put a 20 pound turkey in the MWO it takes a lot longer to cook than if you put a 2 pound turkey in it. (assuming you can fit a large bird in the box)

The available power is what does the cooking. An ounce of water will boil faster than a cup will. It all has to do with the amount of mass. Being that a staple is more mass in a smaller place, it will absorb some energy. However, it will also heat up as it does so. Thus, your tea is getting some heating from the MW's and some from the staple. I wouldn't recommend leaving the spoon in the cup though. Stirring after taking the tea out of the MWO will be rather unpleasant. And likely your tea will still be cold.

#### GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
If you put a 20 pound turkey in the MWO it takes a lot longer to cook than if you put a 2 pound turkey in it. (assuming you can fit a large bird in the box)
Assuming you can find a 2-pound Turkey.

To me; 9 seconds is nearly as good as 10 seconds.
Nearly as good? Are you ok with 90% in your life? Would you let your wife drive to Cleveland with 90% of recommended air pressure? Would you hire someone that meets 90% of the qualifications? Would you retire with 90% of your retirement savings?

#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,025
You guys are over complicating this. The argument between 1:30 and 90 is irrelevant. Your microwave has way more buttons than it needs, and it's got you all pulled into the weeds and encumbered.

The microwave only has 2 buttons that matter. Start, and minute plus.
Put cup in, minute plus (twice).
Wait for hot.
remove cup.
DONE.

Walk away with 30 sec still on the counter, no problem. It will be there waiting for you next time. Then you only need to minute plus once.

#### GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
Walk away with 30 sec still on the counter, no problem. It will be there waiting for you next time. Then you only need to minute plus once.
What?!?! That is like walking away from a ticking time bomb! Think of the dangers. You close the door, wife wipes down the appliances, accidentally pushed the “start button”, no staple on the turn table to absorb all of the energy and Poof, the what-cha-ma-call-it does whatever it does when you run an empty oven. Don’t live so dangerously!

#### cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
6,370
Ok... from what I've gathered here, this is going to be my new routine:
• Take the teabag out of its individually sealed envelope
• Put it inside the teacup
• Add water, making sure that the teabag stays at the bottom
• Nuke for 1:11 (which will give it 94.7% of its normal time, but will save me about 0.01 KCal of energy by keeping my fingers from wondering around the keyboard)
• Add 1-1/2 packs of Splenda (I read somewhere that it's not good to bake or warm things up along with it)
• Stir the cup, squeezing the bag with the spoon a couple of times to force it release its maximum flavor.
• Enjoy at my leisure with a blueberry muffin

I'm thinking that by keeping the staple submerged in the water, the water will more or less "shield" it, quickly dissipating any heat generated inside the staple, and reabsorbing any waves that were reflected by it. Also minimizing any possible adverse effects on the magnetron.

I wouldn't recommend leaving the spoon in the cup though.
Never even thought of it!

#### spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,815
How can you enjoy tea when you microwave it for only 115. You should increase that to 80 or 90.

and after reading this, you’ll always save yourself a keystroke by entering 75

Huh?

#### GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
Try it, enter 1-1-5 into your microwave for cooking time.

Then try 8-0. Which one cooks longer?

#### nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
6,215
the what-cha-ma-call-it does whatever it does when you run an empty oven. Don’t live so dangerously!
Running an empty microwave oven is extremely dangerous because it creates a portal to another galaxy.