Why can't I use a home microwave for acid digestion or extraction?

You could potentially burn down your lab.

There are acid digestion products made to go into a home microwave but have no safety precautions, such as pressure and temperature control. From the earliest days of microwave digestion both government and private institutions such as USEPA have not allowed home microwaves for lab usage. There are many horror stories of these products blowing through a microwave and causing major damage. The main reasons involve allowable microwave leakage and exhausting corrosive fumes from the cavity. Home microwaves are allowed to emit 5 times more radiation than a system manufactured for laboratory use. In addition, home microwaves have no means to exhaust harmful fumes created by digestions conditions creating a safety issue for the operator. A home microwave has two settings: power and time. You set the desired power and it applies that power for the amount of time you programmed it for. Most people can't even make popcorn without issues so controlling a chemical reaction with concentrated acid is problematic and unsafe.


The CEM microwave incorporate vessels designed to be safe and release pressure as the reaction occurs. They have multiple parameters designed to allow the digestion to happen in a controlled manner. The conditions in the vessels are known at all times and adjust the power accordingly.The answer really comes down to the safety and effectiveness purposely built into every aspect of the CEM microwave over the last 35 years.