What Really Happens When You Put Aluminum Foil in the Microwave

Personal question: have you ever put aluminum foil in the microwave? If you answered “yes”, then we’re guessing that the fateful day occurred sometime when you were in college. You likely slept through your culinary training during Home Economics class back in middle school and you never learned how to properly re-heat your food.

Perhaps it was a foil-wrapped burrito that you stuck in the microwave—or maybe even some leftover pizza—but, regardless of what the doomed meal was, we’re betting that you NEVER, ever did it again.


Sorry for the yelling, but we had to use all caps to get our point across because people are actually putting the wrap in their microwaves these days. On purpose. Because they think it will turn into a smooth, shiny ball.

OK, listen, we don’t want this to turn into a “Let’s hate on Millennials and their potentially lethal home science projects” post, but certain fads—cough, cough, The Tide Pod Challenge, cough, cough—in the news have got us worried that this next generation is going to die young all because they’re misusing household products.

Thanks for listening to the rant; we’ll get off our soapbox now to deliver to you the story of why some young people think that putting a ball of aluminum foil in the microwave is a good idea.

The origin story of yet another dangerous viral trend

This head-scratching phenomenon started with the picture at the top of this post. It was posted by a Japanese Twitter user who goes by the handle @Asu_Astell. Now, before you go buying a ticket to Japan on a mission to hunt this @Asu_Astell guy down, realize that he is a victim in this like the rest of us.

You see, he really did manage to make a perfectly smooth, shiny sphere out of aluminum foil – see the progression above – but it wasn’t achieved with a microwave. Instead, he shaped the ball of foil with a rubber hammer, beating it for a good 2 hours. Afterward, he polished the ball with coarse, then fine, sandpaper before finally applying a liquid abrasive to seal it up.

It’s actually quite an amazing work of art— but that didn’t stop the trolls of the Internet from coming out and ruining it for everyone. Soon after @Asu_Astell’s post went viral, devious tricksters started posting images like this one:

There are many, many other examples like the tweet seen above, but this one came with a particularly terrible caption:

Works but you have to leave it in for at least 10 minutes

We swear to God, if we were this troll’s mother, he would get an EARFUL from us!

So, if you’ve learned anything at all from this post, it’s: 1) to NEVER put foil in the microwave, especially for 10 minutes, because it will light on fire and 2) if you want to make a cool, mirrored sphere, grab that rubber hammer and start banging away!

We can’t wait to hear your comments on this one. Did you know that aluminum foil could light on fire if you put it in the microwave? Are you surprised that this is a viral trend? Do you plan on making one those cool foil spheres?