I have a stainless cavity Microwave. Most all microwaves I have ever used are cool to the touch after use.

This was gets extremely hot. I have measured over 80C, 179F on the front center of microwave. This is only after a 2 minute and 20 second popcorn. If I turn on with nothing it might be hotter.

If you touch the area when retrieving the bag of popcorn you can easily burn yourself.

This seems unsafe and not normal. How hot should it get? Is there a maximum for surfaces by an agency allowed?

1 Answer 1


It's a bad idea to run your microwave empty.

Microwave energy excites water molecules, a microwave oven heats food by heating the water inside it. If there's no water to excite then the energy ends up heating the components of the microwave instead, which is why it heats up when you run it empty, doing this can damage your microwave.

Popcorn is one of the tougher things you can cook in a microwave because it is very dry, so the microwaves again have little to work with and can end up heating the microwave instead. A popcorn kernel pops when the pressure of the expansion of the small amount of water in the kernel exceeds the ability of the skin to contain it, and when it fails the inside explosively expands, releasing some super-heated steam. The heat of the kernels and the steam released from the popping can heat up your microwave quite a bit, especially if you put too much in. 1/4 to 1/2 cup of popcorn is the maximum I've seen recommended.

Try heating up a full bowl of water for a 2-3 minutes and see if your door heats up until it's dangerous to touch. If it does then your microwave is faulty, if not then your microwave is probably fine and you need to understand its limitations better.

  • The complete microwave does not heat up with a low load in the microwave. It's only a hot spot on the surface of the front frame. Not inside the oven where you would expect. The plate of course gets warmer, but I am talking one location in the center front that you could fry an egg on. Microwaves reflect radio waves off of stainless surfaces so they should not get hot in only one location and cool to touch inside the oven.
    – Gary
    Feb 24, 2016 at 13:16
  • If that spot heats up whenever you use the microwave then there's definitely an issue. Maybe the shielding on the door is faulty, it's hard to say. Replacing the door to see if that fixes it is a possibility, but given how much these things cost repairs don't usually make sense.
    – GdD
    Feb 24, 2016 at 13:25

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