Debunking Myth That Seeds Won't Sprout In Microwaved Water

debunk microscope myth seeds photo

I love to cook with my microwave. Sure, it’s possible to manage without it, and there are better ways to defrost food.

However, there are environmentally sound reasons for preferring it to conventional cooking: It only heats the moisture in food, so more energy is retained. Microwave cooking preserves nutrients in vegetables. And since many microwave utensils can go straight to the table and they scorch less, less water and detergent are needed for washing up.

Because microwaves cook food using electromagnetic radiation, many people are afraid to use them. The FDA discusses the issue here. I’m not here to convince anyone to buy an electrical appliance they don’t feel comfortable with.

But when a post on Green Prophet made questionable claims about microwaved foods, I spoke up in the comments and offered to debunk the claim that seeds watered with microwave-boiled water won’t sprout.

Since I only set out to prove that seeds would sprout in microwave-boiled water, a control was unnecessary. In other words, if those seeds didn’t sprout, nothing would be proven one way or the other–there are many reasons why seeds may not sprout.  Still, I put a few lettuce seeds and two black-eyed peas into each of two cups.

I used a bed of dryer lint, having no cotton balls in the house. I admit there is little environmental justification for a dryer, (though the lint can be used for compost), but I have six kids and it had been a rainy week.

I boiled water in a glass container, let it cool, and poured it on the seeds. For the control I used water boiled in a kettle on top of the stove.

Seeds Sprouting in Microwaved Water

Seeds Sprouting in Microwaved Water

The lettuce seeds sprouted after only two or three days, and the peas are starting to sprout too. It’s true that more seeds sprouted from the water boiled conventionally, but seeds are unpredictable. At any rate the microwave did not alter the water enough to prevent sprouting.

My son decided to do a further experiment. A Hebrew book for children, Mahapach, collects scientific experiments intended to “prove” the truth of Judaism.

According to the book, experiments have shown that plants that have been verbally cursed grow more slowly than others. Without asking me, my son shouted into the cup with the microwaved water. (The seeds had sprouted so it didn’t affect our experiment.) I’m afraid that the other sprouts were close enough to hear, so I’m not sure of the validity of this part of the experiment. I wonder, though, whether plants understand Hebrew. What if a Hebrew curse is a blessing in another language?

Read Hannah Katsman’s series on breastfeeding in Green Prophet.

Read Hannah’s blog at a new location, AMotherInIsrael.com.

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5 thoughts on “Debunking Myth That Seeds Won't Sprout In Microwaved Water”

  1. clockdryve says:

    I have to disagree (somehow)… tried this 2 times with corn seeds. I worked at a grain elevator and used fresh seed stock. The test were made during 2 different years. I boiled the water in microwave for a solid minute. Took out of microwave and left covered with saucer until it completely cooled. The other TEST sample got plain tap water. Didn’t boil – meh. Used paper towels as a bed liner….put seeds in 2 separate cups, each got it’s separate water. Covered these cups and put in a cupboard that wasn’t being used at work. I came back and showed the guys 1 week later. The fresh water had sprouts over 6 inches long. The Microwave water had not ONE SPROUT in the complete mix of over 20 seeds.

    Same results were made when tried it at home (actually earlier).

  2. Hi Kelli,Thanks for your comment. I used microwaved water for one, and water boiled in the kettle for the other. The second set of seeds was the control. I only set out to disprove the claim that the seeds would sprout in microwaved water. Please share your source (article name, author, journal and date) for the information about broccoli.

  3. kelly says:

    After all, what is water anyway? Simply 2 molecules of hydrogen, and one of oxygen. >> Hi Maurice, I think this is true for water with HIGH OXYGEN levels, no?

  4. kelly says:

    Hello Hannah! Thank you for this post! Did you use kettle-boiled water or microwaved water? or both? It's possible the sprouts grew on nutrients from kettle-boiled water, instead of those from microwaved water.I don't doubt about spiritualism on seeds/plant…in your case, Judaism. Water had a more beautiful pattern (frozen water) if you've praised it before freezing it. The opposite is true if you scold it when very angry. TRY the experiment yourself!By the way Hannah, I had posted a reply on the post you said you debunked with kind intention. But I would have to say respectfully, this experiment proved little to nothing about dangers (or safety) microwaved foods and plants.It had however, proved that sprouts are still able to survive in possibly less-than-perfect conditions. Frogs survived in contaminated waters but changed sex! Ref: Weed killer Made Male Frogs Turn into Females! – Maggie Fox, Health Correspondent for Reuters (Washington) in 2002 Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture mentioned that,”Clear disadvantages were detected when broccoli was microwaved, namely high losses of flavonoids (97%), sinapic acid derivatives (74%) and caffeoyl-quinic acid derivatives (87%).”Best regardskelly

  5. Maurice says:

    I also agree that’s nonsense. After all, what is water anyway? Simply 2 molecules of hydrogen, and one of oxygen. Combined, you have the liquid that composes 70% of our bodies. Separately, both hydrogen and oxygen are highly combustable elements. Interesting how they are “tamed” when combined.

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