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Is microwaved water harmful to plants?

Catherine Stewart

Catherine Stewart

February 13, 2015


Can watering plants with water that’s been microwave-boiled, then cooled, kill them? I was recently alerted to this silly myth doing the rounds on the internet when explaining to a young acquaintance why I prefer to microwave-cook my vegies. So it seems it’s still duping people with its apparent ‘scientific’ evidence, so here’s a bit of my own debunking.

The alleged ‘science fair experiment’ by ‘Arielle Reynolds’ (variously from Knoxville TN, or Sussex UK) in 2006:

“Below is a science fair project that my granddaughter did for 2006. In it she took filered water and divided it into two parts.. The first part she heated to boiling in a pan on the stove, and the second part she heated to boiling in a microwave. Then after cooling she used the water to water two identical plants to see if there would be any difference in the growth between the normal boiled water and the water boiled in a microwave. She was thinking that the structure or energy of the water may be compromised by microwave. As it turned out, even she was amazed at the difference.”






Snopes**, that great internet myth debunking site, has had a good look at the photo of the microwave-boiled watered plant on the left from Day 1 to Day 5 of watering, and showed how the photo has been manipulated (and the leaves probably removed with scissors). See the Snopes mock-up here.

BUT what nobody else seems to have noticed is perhaps only obvious to a gardener…..

1. How do you water a plant without moving one speck of perlite on the surface of the potting mix? If you look at Days 1 to 5, you’ll see that every single bit of that very lightweight substance is in exactly the same place.

2. How does a dying plant wilt so unevenly? Notice that the longer leaves on the right are exactly the same – robust and turgid – from Days1 to 5, but the others mysteriously change.

3. Where are the leaves that supposedly died? And how do each of the leaf stems end up with a neat, flat cut line at their extremity? Wouldn’t they also be withered?

It’s disturbing to see such rubbish still convincing so many people, if only for their inability to identify the essential elements of a properly conducted scientific trial, all missing from this obvious fakery.

And yes, I will continue to enjoy my highly-nutritious, microwave-cooked vegies!

[**If you ever get an email telling you about some extraordinary or ‘dangerous’ fact, or how a girl dying in the UK needs a gazillion postcards from around the world, run it through the Snopes site first. Odds on you will find it is an internet/email hoax]

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8 years ago

Replication is a fundamental principle of science, the ability to repeat an experiment and get the same answers. So let’s replicate this one.

Find 2 plants.
Cut off the leaves of the one you like least.
Blame something.

5 years ago

G’day guys,
I know that everyone has different thoughts on this topic and they all may be right in one way or another but I have done this experiment myself. I had 3 pots with 1 Bean plant in each, one plant given rain water, one given town water and the other given microwaved rain water. It did take a couple of days for any noticeable differences but 2 of the bigger leaves on the plant started to go yellow as if it was dying and it turned out it was, both of the leaves shrivelled up and fell off, there were roots starting to grow up on the stem of the plant up to probably half a cm above the soil and there were also a very minimal amount of roots on the plant to the other 2 plants. I did exactly the same experiment with cucumber plants and the microwaved water had exactly the same effect but I had 2 cucumber plants in each pot so I had 6 plants all up. If you think that this is a load of crap I don’t care but please by all means I will show you photos if you would like.

Cheers, Zac

David Way
David Way
4 years ago

Scientific tests ( properly done) showing alteration of the properties of water lasting a long time post microwave treatment . Interesting is the increase in hydrogen peroxide levels. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aot/2017/5260912/

4 years ago
Reply to  David Way

Hello David – while on the surface this published study looks ‘scientific’, I have serious doubts about the reputation of the journal in which it is published.
Credible scientists would not publish a study about the effects of microwaving water in an Egyptian journal called ‘Advances in Optical Technologies’. This journal is defunct after only a few years of publishing, and this study has not been cited once or replicated by any other researcher since it was published 4 years ago. I’m confident that the rest of the scientific world does not accept the validity of its results any more than I do.

Judi New
8 years ago

Thanks for this piece of humour with a serious side, Catherine. Not only do I agree with the points you make, but I am also a great fan of the Snopes site!

I suppose what vaguely interests me as well is why anyone would bother to mock up the experiment in the first place?!!

8 years ago


8 years ago

My son did this experiment partly to show the fake experiment (shown here) was….urm..fake ! However he now has a problem. He used a control (tap) however the purified water plant is doing really well, tap water one second and microwaved one in third. It is not dying, and does not look unhealthy – but there is a big difference now between the size (height and width) of the plant watered with purified water every day and the one watered with microwaved water (boiled and cooled) He just can’t find out why- and why I am googling to see if I can find out why !! He made sure all have same conditions, all were grown from seedlings and are the same age, and all have the same light and amount of water as the same time. The expt was supposed to show there is no difference, but there obviously is! Today he asked random people to say which they thought were the healthiest and all gave 1,2,3 in the same order (purified, tap, microwaved) – not knowing anything about the expt.
Aaarrrgggh. So WHY is there is a difference? It’s not killed it but definitely stunted its growth.

6 years ago
Reply to  Emma

Make sure you use a glass container for the microwave water as plastics leach harmful chemicals