Here’s Why Boiled Eggs Explode in the Microwave

If the idea of warming up a chilled hard-boiled egg in the microwave for a quick snack sounds like a good idea, let us be the one to tell you precisely how wrong you are: Microwaved eggs explode—and in spectacular fashion.

When you pierce, prod, or poke a microwaved hard-boiled egg, bits of rubbery white and gooey yolk will be sent flying. (YouTube has the proof.) You’ll find egg splattered across your kitchen or dining room for weeks to come. (Can you imagine the smell?) And if the egg just happens to be near your face, hands, or in your mouth when it detonates, you could have some nasty burns.

WATCH: What's the White Stuff on My Eggs?

You can actually hard cook an egg in the microwave without it exploding, but you can’t warm it later. Researchers aren’t entirely clear why that is, but they think it has something to do with the yolk. When eggs are cooked, they turn from a liquid or plasma state into a solid, albeit rubbery, one. But not every bit of the liquid disappears. When you microwave the egg, tiny pockets of the remaining water become superheated, and when air is added—by puncturing or slicing the whites—the egg spontaneously boils. Result? Kaboom!

One study found that the yolks in a microwaved egg exceed 212°F, or the point of boiling water. What’s more, that same study found that exploding eggs aren’t only messy, they’re also really loud. Of the 100 eggs that were cooked in the experiment, those that exploded produced sounds that ranged from 86 to 133 decibels. For comparison, that’s the equivalent of standing 30 feet away from a motorcycle, on the low end, or 100 feet from a jet plane, on the louder end. A round from a shotgun, for example, is 160 decibels. The explosion likely won’t do any hearing damage—the sound is just too brief—but it’s enough to really add to the drama of the moment.

How to Safely Heat Hard-Boiled Eggs

If you have a few cooked eggs you want warmed up for a salad, snack, or side dish at breakfast, you can do it. You just need to do it slowly so the pockets of water don’t superheat and boil.

Add the egg to a coffee mug or bowl with boiling water. Let the egg sit for 5 to 10 minutes. If the water cools, drain it, and add more hot water. Then, peel and slice the egg as you normally would. 

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