happens When You Put A CD in the Microwave?
Disclaimer: I'm not recommending you put a CD into a
microwave. CDs may contain metals that will cause your microwave to arc, destroying the
microwave emitter (see cautions about metal objects in the manual for your microwave).
Don't try this at home. Better yet, don't try this at all.
The basic process is, take a disc that you don't want anymore, and put it shiny-side-up on
something like a mug of water so it's nowhere near the top, bottom, or sides of the
microwave. (Actually, you may want to leave it right-side-up if the disc doesn't have a
label, because the foil is closest to the top of the CD.) Try to center it in the
microwave. Turn off the lights. Program the microwave for a 3-second burst on
"high", and watch the fireworks.
Performing this operation on replicated CDs results in blue sparks that dance along the
CD, leaving fractal-ish patterns etched into the reflective aluminum. For those of you not
with the program, this also renders the CD unreadable.
Trying this with a green/gold CD-R gives you a similar light show, but the destruction
patterns are different. While pressed CDs and CD-RWs don't develop consistent patterns of
destruction, CD-Rs tend to form circular patterns, possibly because of the pre-formed
On a different note, CD-Rs seem to smell worse, or at least they start to smell earlier,
then replicated CDs. The materials used are non-toxic ("cyanine" comes from the
color cyan, not from cyanide), but breathing the fumes is something best avoided.
For the curious, here's a note about why they behave like they do:
"The aluminum layer in a CD-ROM is very thin.
The microwave oven induces large currents in the aluminum. This makes enough heat to
vaporize the aluminum. You then see a very small lightning storm as electric arcs go
through the vaporized aluminum. Within a few seconds there will be many paths etched
through the aluminum, leaving behind little metalic islands. Some of the islands will be
shaped so that they make very good microwave antennas. These spots will focus the
microwave energy, and get very hot. Now you will see just a few bright spots spewing a lot
of smoke. The good part of the light show is over, turn off the oven.
I suspect that if you leave the oven going much longer, the CD-ROM will burst into flame.
This will smell very bad and may do bad things to your oven and house. Don't do it."
-- Paul Haas (email@example.com), on http://hamjudo.com/notes/cdrom.html
Credits: all information taken from a USENet
FAQ, which can be found at http://www.fadden.com/cdrfaq/faq07.html#[7-1].