Will Seeds Sprout in Microwaved Water? And My Son’s Surprise Experiment

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–there are many reasons for seeds not to 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?

This post originally appeared on Green Prophet and is reprinted with permission.


  1. I’ve read the same information about microwaved water and seeds. That bit of information really made me very leery of microwaving food. You’re brilliant. I never even thought to test it.

    Thank you so much for doing this. I may follow your lead and do the same with my children to teach them the value of research rather than accepting things at face value.

  2. very cool!

  3. all these positives about the microwave, but you left out the main negative: the food usually tastes crappy (imho)

  4. mominisrael says

    A lot of problems with microwaved food have to do with misunderstanding of technique–the food gets overcooked or dries out. And there are some things a microwave doesn’t do well.

  5. you really cook stuff in their from scratch?

  6. mominisrael says

    Sure. I posted some ideas a while back.

  7. mominisrael says

    But, I do use it less as my family has grown.

  8. Such an interesting experiment! BTW, I’d use cholent beans next time. Those things are hardy to say the least! I was once cleaning out my sink and found a sprouting bean in the drain that must have survived being cooked, then washed out of the pot before it decided to live in my sink!

  9. mominisrael says

    Yonit, maybe it fell into the sink when you were washing the raw beans.

  10. I am pretty sure it is not the words themselves of a curse, but the intention behind it that produces the effect. Probably affects the curser as much as the victim. Your question could provoke another experiment to test this, however. I am not sure that any experiment with seed germination can be said to prove anything,; as you say, they are just so completely unpredictable. What I would like to know is why?

  11. Actually I never thought about this, but I’ll definitely try this experiment.

  12. clockdryve says

    About 3 years ago I took some microwave water (boiling) and let it cool down…I took about 8 or 9 yellow corn seeds (I worked at a grain elevator), and put then on a paper towel that was inside a styrofoam bowl…and poured on the cooled MW water. I then did the same with a few more seeds and another bowl, but this time I used regular boiled water that had cooled. I then put BOTH bowls into a cabinet a left them on the darkend shelf for about 10 days. When I went back and looked at them, the one with microwave water DID NOT SPROUT ” AT ALL!! ” And the one in regular water had sprouts about 6 inches long. Can’t NOBODY tell me different….because I TRIED it. Simple guys……do it yourself and you won’t need to be LIED to by BIG COMPANIES in the pockets of other Big Companies đŸ™‚