One of the best and worst things about the internet is how easily a trend can catch on. A video of some kid singing in Wal-Mart can instantly become a huge sensation resulting in thousands of tweets and memes, and sometimes even 15 minutes of fame on a network talk show. People will start putting bread on their cat's faces just because they saw people online putting bread on their cat's faces and taking photos! Most of the time, it's all in good fun (and in the case of bread cats, also adorable). But sometimes, internet trends can be legitimately dangerous, with just a few examples including the Tide Pod challenge, the condom challenge, and the hot water challenge, all of which actually hurt people. And now, there's a dangerous new trend of people trying to microwave aluminum foil that can be added to that list.
If you've ever spent any time in a kitchen at all, you should already know (please tell me you already know!) that foil and metal, should never go in the microwave. Why, you ask? It all comes down to how a microwave works. Basically, it's a "magnetron hooked up to a high voltage source." When you put food in the microwave, the waves bounce around until they are absorbed, making your food hot. Metals are full of electrons that move around however they want. When you put a metal (like foil) in your microwave, the electric wave doesn't enter it to heat it up, they just end up being reflected.
When microwaves are reflected rather than absorbed, it can lead to some serious consequences. Electrical sparks can burn holes in the metal walls of the microwave, possibly eventually destroying your microwave. In extreme cases, it could start a fire, and maybe even blow up your microwave.
In more simple terms: putting foil in the microwave can result in a fire, and even potentially blow up your microwave. So why, you may wonder, are people voluntarily putting it in their microwave? To make it shiny.
It all began with a few viral tweets, as so many regrettable things do, showcasing a ball of aluminum foil transformed into a much shinier, smooth ball of foil. The very false claim was that putting the ball of foil in the microwave was the reason it had smoothed out so much.
And, as Buzzfeed points out, the photos aren't even from microwaving foil (which, again, never do). They are from a story out of Japan in March, when Japanese Twitter user @Asu_Astell made a foil ball, then used a hammer and sandpaper to make it as shiny as the above photos. That original tweet had over 100,000 retweets, but it still wasn't enough to stop this insanely dangerous hoax from spreading around the internet.
Luckily, though, it seems like most people know that this is a terrible idea. There are a lot of warnings on Twitter out there, which also cite other recent/dangerous viral trends like the condom challenge, and the Tide Pod challenge.
A lot of people are on Twitter joking about putting foil in the microwave with photos of fires and microwaves blowing up to show what could actually happen if you really do this. In reality, the effects likely wouldn't be this extreme, but still — it drives the point home that this is not a good idea and no one should ever try it because it's dangerous.
Let's all agree to use the internet for good instead of trying to trick innocent people into putting foil in their microwaves, OK?