Remember how your parents used to say "don't put metal in the microwave"? Prepare to throw that cardinal nugget of advice straight out the window because we're going to do just that. We're going to use a domestic, unmodified microwave to melt metal!
I happened upon an article in an old Popular Science magazine (c.2003) about microwave smelting and thought it was so awesome I had to try it for myself. So, just what happens when you try to smelt metal in the microwave? Turns out, it works!
Also, if you do it wrong you end up with a fiery microwave disaster:
Video - microwave smelting
Here's some Research done in 2005 on
A domestic microwave oven melting metal at 1000 degrees Celsius
- Research is nearing completion on a system that will allow the melting and casting of bronze, silver, gold, and even cast iron, using an unmodified domestic microwave oven as the energy source.
A potential foundry in every kitchen !!
MELTING METALS IN A DOMESTIC MICROWAVE
David ReidThe first part of this Foundry Note describes a technique for using a domestic microwave oven to melt and cast, to accurate shape, small quantities (up to a quarter of a kilo) of bronze, silver, white metal or iron. The technique has been used to cast pieces from ceramic shell molds up to about 18cm high, and is an accessible alternative to other small-scale melting set-ups, for example the flask casting of jewelery.
The second part of the note describes thoughts and tests which led to the procedure. It offers guidance and some warnings, to anyone making investigations into metal heating by microwave.
The microwave oven has been put on it's side to provide extra height in the chamber. After 18 minutes firing, the door has just been opened.
Very interesting... I have been looking into "Home Built" Foundry's for a while. And this is the first I have seen, on using a Micro Wave Oven as a Foundry Oven. It would be very easy to do and I do have an old Microwave in the Garage. It's pretty old and I don't know what the Wattage is on it. And I want to Smelt Aluminum and Brass. Still, it might be worth a try... But, I do remember giving that Micro Wave to my Brother and it ending up back in the Garage. Hmmm... Well, I don't think that I would ever want anyone to use it for cooking, after melting metal in it!:O
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- David Reid Teaches accessible foundry techniques at colleges around the world
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- Microwave cast pictures