Sur La Table Mug Handle Found Scorchingly Hot After 2 Minutes In Microwave

UPDATE: Sur La Table Responds To Reader’s Hot Handle Incident

“Dear Consumerist,

On the bottom of Sur La Table (by Ceramiche Toscane) brand coffee/tea mugs reads “may get hot in microwave.” Now, we’ve microwaved coffee, tea, soup, and other food items in other-brand mugs before, and sure enough, the handle gets hot. Very often, one must put down the mug before enjoying its contents. But Sur La Table mugs, when microwaved, REACH TEMPERATURES HOT ENOUGH TO INSTANTLY BURN THE SHIT OUT OF ONE’S HAND.”

hot300.jpg“My wife recently heated water for tea in one of Sur La Table’s mugs for under 2 minutes in our microwave and, when removing the mug from the microwave, received a nasty burn. The mug’s handle was OUTRAGEOUSLY HOT.

Furthermore, even after many minutes had passed (as we ran cold water over her injuries and applied burn ointment to her hand), the mug’s handle remained at a scorching temperature. I ran the mug under cold water in order to handle it safely and was amazed to find that, despite the bowl section of mug cooling appropriately, the mug’s handle retained considerable heat and was more-than-warm to the touch.

[To allay your cynicism, my wife can easily handle the hot water directly from the tap, which reaches over 120 degrees. We could not verify what temperature the handle reached, but it was way above that. Therefore, be assured that this is not a case of wimpy sad-sacks whining that they can’t take the heat.]

We contacted the company’s customer service center and are awaiting their reply.

You’ve been warned,

Thanks, HOT HAND, we got a chuckle out of your letter and its tone of mock outrage. Still, odd that the cup handle would be hotter than the mug itself. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Just remember kids, when it says, “May get hot in microwave,” err on the side of caution and consider it, “will burn your hand up all crazy-like after a couple of minutes.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Trae says:

    So… they were surprised when something got hot when placed in a device that heats things up.

    Got it.

  2. SVreader says:

    Maybe there’s something in the glaze?

  3. ptkdude says:

    @Trae: I agree with you 100%. I need to bitch about GE because that pan of brownies I made last night got really hot in the oven.

  4. Murph1908 says:


    The other day, I removed an overly large and pretentious Le Baron Rouge pizza from my oven. When I bit into the pizza, the sauce was hot enough TO INSTANTLY BURN MY TONGUE. Strangely enough, the crust by which I handled said pizza had cooled, but the sauce remained at an extraordinarily high temp.

  5. rewinditback says:

    def. is the glaze treatment – if the mug has a complete clear coat sheen. My girlfriend has a dish-set that does reach outrageous temperatures within a minute of being in there… UNLESS… the surface is covered with an item.

  6. rewinditback says:

    BTW- how outrageously big is that mug!

  7. Beerad says:

    Agreed with everyone else. I mean, it even says “may get hot in microwave” — how is this a surprise? I’m sorry about the burn, but what’s customer service going to do, pass on a suggestion that they should design mugs that don’t conduct heat so well? This is also why I never just grab anything straight out of the microwave.

  8. Murph1908 says:

    I am thinking it might be the density and surface area of the handle. Though IANAT (I am not a thermodynamicicist), if that handle is solid, would it not hold on hold onto heat longer? There is definitely more surface area in the bowl portion too.

  9. To quote Ellen DeGeneres:

    I blame the microwave for most of our problems. Anything that gets that hot without fire, that’s from the devil.

  10. UESC says:

    if they knew in the past that the handle gets hot, the wife could have used a pot holder to grab the cup out of the microwave.

    that’s how i protect my hands from hot items anyway…

  11. AlisonAshleigh says:

    Who picks up mugs by the handle, anyway? You wrap your hand AROUND the mug.

  12. sonichghog says:

    I have another tip. When coolking on a stove, the pots your using may get hot too…..

  13. @rewinditback: The mug is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to that mug.

    Sorry Douglas Adams.

  14. demonradio says:

    Wow, everyone is so clever in this thread.

  15. louisb3 says:

    Kids? The whole point of having a ceramic mug with a special handle is that the handle should rarely get hot enough to cause discomfort, let alone burns.

  16. protest says:


    in theory, if you have a thin piece and a thick piece of the same material, the thin piece will heat up quicker (heat all the way through) but will also lose that heat quicker, while the reverse should be true for the thicker piece. however, with a ceramic-based glaze added to the picture, i’m not sure the standard rules would apply. none of my mugs do that, the handle stays relatively cool, so i do think they have a legitimate problem. but the company in question has covered their ass with that disclaimer.

  17. robotprom says:

    this complaint has about as much merit as complaining that coffee is hot. Next we’ll hear about how water gets hot when you leave it on the stove and a magical reaction happens called “boiling”.

  18. @GitEmSteveDave: To add to the above,

    You don’t believe me, put a Sur La Table big mug in the microwave for three or four minutes, then grab it by the handle. If that’s not Hell, my friend, I don’t know what is.

  19. csdiego says:

    Not to be alarmist, but it sounds like there’s lead in the glaze. I have a set of charming hand-painted ceramic dishes that got hot enough to burn my hand the one time I tried to put one in the microwave. Later I found out the glaze had lead in it.

  20. @robotprom: What do you mean there’s no ice? I mean I gotta drink this coffee hot?

  21. phillygirl64 says:

    I have a cermamic mug from a Seattle megacorporation that has a particularly thick handle that also gets very hot in the microwave. Other ceramic mugs I have from the same company have thinner handles and do not have this problem. So I do not use the thick-handled mug in the microwave – I just use it for fresh pours from the coffee pot or brewing tea.

  22. monkey33 says:

    I’ve had something similar happen with mugs from Target (which I don’t believe have the same warning). The handles get incredibly hot compared to the freebie mugs that I also use. The handles on the free mugs are warm, but comfortable to touch coming out of the microwave after two minutes, but the Target mugs are too hot to touch. What’s also interesting is that while the cup will be too hot to touch, the liquid inside will be comfortable.

  23. hi says:

    This is so not news-worthy. Enough to make me use the words ‘so’ and ‘not’ together in one sentence to describe the non-news worthyness. I can’t beleive they allowed these people to marry… next you’ll tell me they have kids.

    And the mug is not big, the woman is really, really small.

    Remember kids: allow things to cool down after nuking them in the microwave.

  24. smitty1123 says:

    Constipated Mr. Holmes?

  25. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    @protest: as soon as I saw this post, I thought I guarantee somebody is going to get all scientific for no good reason
    thanks for making believe I am psychic

  26. Myron says:

    Don’t heat water in the microwave. It could explode in your face.


    An electric tea kettle is cheap and works well.

  27. Crymson_77 says:

    @Cassifras: since you are on a roll…any chance you can hit me up with the lotto numbers for Monday in Dallas? ;D

  28. SugarRob says:

    Oh, the update clears everything up. You know the people who wrote this, which means, ummm, yeah, a little help here maybe…

  29. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    @Cassifras: …”making ME believe…” DAMNIT!!

  30. Tigerman_McCool says:

    I’m glad to know that picture is a reenactment.

  31. @Myron: In the article you cote, it mostly deals with glass containers, which are smooth enough to not have nucleation sites. Ceramic mugs/cups are glazed, which while smooth, contain imperfections enough to provide such sites

  32. MaliBoo Radley says:

    I’ve actually had this problem. Flaming hot handle and yet only tepid throughout the rest of the mug. Seems like a design flaw to me.

  33. Ben Popken says:

    @SugarRob: Which means you guys have Asperger’s.

  34. @radleyas: Was your microwave plugged in correctly? I had the same problem, and when I called tech support, they told me to reverse the plug. Apparently, the way I had it plugged in made the container hot and the food stayed cold. I flipped the plug, and now my food gets hot, and the container stays cold.


  35. zentec says:

    How is this a problem if they warn you? Maybe the warning needs to be taped on the exterior so you can read it before you purchase it?

    Many items are not microwave safe as their materials readily soak up the RF and, well, get hot. Apparently, this is one of them.

    FWIW, I thought the big old mugs went out of fashion when NBC killed “Friends”.

  36. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Amazon has an excellent Braun kettle in their Friday sale today.

  37. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    What a complete shower of assholes we have in this thread. When I nuke a cup of coffee or some water for a cup-o-noodles, yes, the handle warms up some, but not as much as the body of the mug or measuring cup, let alone more, which is the whole point of having a fucking handle in the first place. Your snark is weak and foolish, children.

  38. NoWin says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: …if I put something in my microwave for “3 or 4 minutes” I figure I’d be makin’ molten anything at that point…

  39. babaki says:

    Bush’s fault

  40. Voyou_Charmant says:

    The other day i was at Marble Slab Iced Creams Emporium (and hep joint) where i ordered a mixtures of delicious iced creams and smashed up sweet candy treats. I immediately shoved as much of the cup, iced creams and sweet treats into my mouth forcing it into my throat.

    IT WAS SO COLD IT MADE MY WHOLE HEAD HURT! This was one of the worst feelings i have ever experienced. It was like all the blood in my head had frozen over, like her delicious, but likely deadly, concauction had caused some sort of brain freeze.

    Needless to say, i was outraged. I demanded that the 15 year old iced creams dispenser bring me her manager. She stated that he was late because he had some homework to finish (a real professional bunch you’ve got there, Mr Slab). Again, OUTRAGED! I knew this was not going to go down easy. I asked her: “Do you think this is funny?”; pointing at my face head and neck and then to some of the iced creams i had spit on the table when the intense pain hit me.

    She didn’t know what i was talking about.

    So i took the 45 cent tip i left her from the tip jar and told her if this is how she is going to treat customers she will likely find her self making minimum wage in the food industry and she had better shape up! I swear, if the liberals hadn’t outlawed spanking, kids wouldn’t be pulling this sort of stuff.

    As i was leaving i told her i would be telling my story to the whole internets IN ALL CAPS, if need be. And i would certainly be letting the popular weblog “Consuptionist” know all about my experience.

    So here i am; head thawed and back to a proper 98.6 degrees.

    What should i do? I’ve already faxed the mayor, several county commissioners, the state attorney general, this guy Brian i think is a lawyer, a local news paper and the sheriffs dept in the next county (i couldn’t find my sheriffs dept fax number). Additionally, I’ve called Marble Slab’s corporate offices and left profanity ridden messages with anyone who had voice mail.

    What should my next step be?

  41. @NoWin: That’s how they make the lava centers of the McDonalds apple pies.

  42. mandarin says:

    Thats a big mug… Looks like a flower pot

  43. RottNDude says:

    Slow news day, Ben?

  44. Amelie says:

    I agree witht the OP: One expects the object to be hot, but not the handle to be dangerously so. Thanks for the warning.

    @demonradio: It appears we have a larger than usual number of people who get off on seeing their retarded comments in print.

  45. Sherryness says:

    I thought it was funny. Especially the picture “re-enactment.” Also, the microwave does some funny stuff. You can have a water reach the boiling point, but not have the bubbles break the surface, thereby creating a potentially exposive situation. Now, when I add something to water I’ve just boiled in the microwave, I stir the water with a spoon just to break the surface. Because, in the past, I have boiled water and poured powdered baby formula into it and had it EXPLODE on me. It’s a true scientific phenomenon; I’ve heard of it elsewhere. No, really. Oh, I remember, the water that does this was referred to as “super heated.” You can Google it.

  46. noquarter says:

    @King of the Wild Frontier: I second that opinion.

    A mug intended for coffee/tea should be able to be microwaved without the handle getting too hot to touch. Most ceramic mugs are this way, and for this one not to be is a sign that something is wrong with its design.

    The mug was in a microwave, so any comparisons to things getting hot in the oven are irrelevant. And if you don’t know why that is, then kindly shut up.

  47. RokMartian says:

    Here is how Dell customer support would handle it:

    Customer: Damn, the handle on this mug gets incredibly hot when you microwave it.

    Dell: Don’t microwave it.

    – click-

  48. cjc says:

    Yeah, when the thing doesn’t say “microwave safe” and it’s ceramic, it’ll probably get hot. If you want to heat up stuff in the microwave, use containers that are labeled “microwave safe”.

    Or, try it first, and if it’s hot, don’t do it again.

  49. cjc says:

    Just a thought on why a store would sell a non-microwave safe ceramic mug, when it’s obvious you’d use it for coffee or tea: it’s Sur La Table and they obviously want you to make tea the civilized way, in a tea pot (and I’m sure they have wonderful tea pot selections that they can sell you, possibly gigantic ones as well).

    And, yes, I do like my giant cup, even after the 1990s, because it holds a buttload of coffee in the morning.

  50. Beerad says:

    @King of the Wild Frontier: Isn’t the point of a handle actually so that when heat is applied to the container portion of the device (as in a pot on the stove or putting hot liquid into a mug) the handle stays cooler? If you’re doing something that heats up the handle as well (like putting a skillet in the oven or microwaving a mug), well, the handle gets hot too.

    Yes, people are a bit snarky in the thread, but physics is physics. It’s not like the mug was advertised as “handle stays cool in microwave!” Quite the opposite.

  51. Voyou_Charmant says:


    Is the handle some magical part of the “object”?

    I just assume everything i put into my “magical hot maker” will be hot. I’m all crazy with being cautious and stuff. That’s just me.

    If i had been careless enough to forget why I placed the object into the magical hot maker prior to removing it and burned myself, i would almost certainly fax a picture of my fist to all parties involved.

    1) The people that made the magical hot maker.
    2) The people who sold the mug (including the Chinese kid who actually shaped it).
    3) The local utilities dept for providing me with water capable of being heated.
    4) FPL for providing electricity to power the magical hot maker.
    5) My mom for having me.
    6) Myself for forgetting what i was doing.

    Otherwise how will Corporate America LLC ever learn?

  52. MaliBoo Radley says:


    Eh, no. I’m pretty sure that isn’t the problem ;)

  53. DrGirlfriend says:

    After a couple of minutes in the micro, a mug handle should be hot, but not enough to actually burn you. I didn’t read the OP as an outraged condemnation of Sur La Table mugs, more like an FYI. “Just so you know, this will get wayyyy hotter than you may expect.”

    The headline reads kind of like it came out of The Onion, though!

  54. Dan25 says:


    LMAO. I hope im not the only one that sees the comedic genius in that.

  55. babaki says:

    @Dan25: im still laughing

  56. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I generally don’t heat ceramics or plastics in the microwave. I heat in glass, usually borosilicate glass (like Pyrex). Then I pour the water or whatever into the mug I plan to drink it from, or the noodles onto the plate for serving, or whatever.
    I’m an occasional potter, and… yeah, some glazes seem to handle heat better than others. But since I don’t know which will do what, I use glass.
    And a pot holder. Always a pot holder. Because a microwave oven is just that – an oven.

  57. hi says:

    very funny!

  58. Maude Buttons says:

    @King of the Wild Frontier: Word.

    For the rest of you “slow news day” folks, I’m sure when you start your own websites, you’ll do a much better job.

  59. surgesilk says:

    Huge Mug

  60. phantomfly says:

    HAI GUYZ, plz to be reading whole post, kthxbye

    Thanks, HOT HAND, we got a chuckle out of your letter and its tone of mock outrage.

    i can haz sarcasm?

  61. rewinditback says:

    the whole explosive water thing was on mythbusters… They said you have to use distilled water for that to happen. Water boils due to impurities – so if you’re getting you water from the tap, it’ll boil and not explode. However, distilled water superheats and boils when anything foreign is added to it (ie a spoon, sugar, tea packet. etc)

  62. protest says:


    well congrats, your a psychic, but it was for a reason, i was responding to someone asking about it. btw, that wasn’t “all scientific”, it was common sense, however i am an engineer, if that helps your theory…

  63. shanaynay says:

    @KingoftheWildFrontier: there ya go. Rational and adult, instead of swanning about crapping on people.

    That said: seriously, an electric kettle’s the way to go, or, if you’re all old-skool, an, um, plain kettle. Doesn’t take any longer, and no temp weirdness or danger of crazy flash-boil-explosion-whatever.

  64. Dervish says:

    @DrGirlfriend: You know, I find myself agreeing with your comments a lot.

    What the hell, people? This guy wrote his letter in a mostly-humorous tone and as a heads-up, not as a demand for blood money from the company in question, or a call for everyone to boycott them. Some people who write in to this site really don’t have a leg to stand on, but this guy isn’t one of them.

    He even adknowledges that handles usually get hot in the “magical hot maker,” but goes on to say that this is above and beyond what commonly happens.

  65. DeeJayQueue says:

    @rewinditback: The same is true for freezing as well.

    Water can superheat because there’s no place for it to form bubbles to boil. That’s why you don’t use glass, or distilled water in the microwave. Impurities in the water or the vessel it’s in are enough for the bubbles to form and let the water boil. However, if you’ve got distilled water in a glass container it’s pretty easy to superheat it. Just don’t put anything in it or near it or open the door for a while.

    Also, if you put distilled water in a glass jar in your garage overnight when it gets below freezing, the water won’t freeze till you kick the jar the next morning. Then you get to watch it flash-freeze which is awesome.

  66. backbroken says:

    Somewhere, there is a lawyer crafting a new warning message to be placed on these mugs:

    “May get hot in microwave. FOR REAL.”

  67. @DeeJayQueue: I am SOOO trying that.

    I used to have a mug that had the gel/liquid around it that you put in the freezer. If you put it in warm, and didn’t touch the mug, and went to it later, and flicked the side with your finger, it would start to crystalize at the impact point and spread. That was cool.

  68. @backbroken: They should put check boxes next to the warnings on things, and if you don’t check it, you can’t sue.

  69. lemur says:

    This specific case is not as “duh” as some people would think it is. We have several mugs in our house and maybe 3 of them get much hotter than the other mugs. The experiment goes like this. Take two mugs which to the naked eye look quite similar: same general size, similar glazing, etc. Fill them with the same amount of water. Put them in the microwave for the same amount of time: 3 minutes is enough with the cups we own and our microwave. After microwaving, one mug’s handle will be tepid and the other one’s handle will be hot enough to cause pain. Why is that? There is nothing evident that explains the difference. As other posters have suggested, it is probably a difference in how the two mugs have been manufactured but that difference is sure not evident to the naked eye.

    Now some are going to say that because of the warning at the bottom of the mug, the victim should have known that the mug would get unbearably hot in the microwave. However, the warning is worded as “may get hot in microwave”. Here, perhaps a “duh” is in order in the sense that the warning is not terribly informative. Anything put in a microwave may get hot, if you microwave it long enough. The warning does not say that this mug has exceptional thermal properties comparatively to other mugs. Something like “risk of burns: never allow skin to touch mug after microwaving” would be better.

    But more importantly than any of the above, companies are not freed from their duty of producing goods that don’t harm their customers just by slapping a warning at the bottom of the item. I’m not saying warnings are utterly ineffective but there’s a limit to how much they can help a company get out of legal trouble. Imagine if a company produced a mug which had the following warning “may explode in your face if used to contain warm liquid”. It is quite unlikely that a judge or jury (in the US) would find that company not guilty of negligence. In general, mugs are not supposed to explode. Logically, given that other companies are able to produce mugs that don’t explode, this hypothetical company could have produced a safe mug by changing its production process. No amount of warnings can make up for that.

    In this specific case, I’m not convinced that the victim is at fault. There was mention in the article that the handle’s thermal behavior was different than the rest of the mug. This suggests that the handle was manufactured differently. And since there are handles that remain as tepid as the rest of the mug, why is this handle special? If it can be demonstrated that the manufacturer did something stupidly negligent, then how can they not be at fault? Granted that that demonstration has not been made yet. Still, I see nothing in the article or the comments that show that it cannot be made.

  70. EtherealStrife says:

    @King of the Wild Frontier: No, the point is to contain a hot or cold liquid. You should always use a separate container to warm stuff in the microwave and transfer it to the container you’re eating/drinking from.

    HOT HAND: stick with a hot pot, noobs. But be warned: the plate will BURN THIS SHIT OUT OF YOUR HAND if you’re stupid enough to touch it.

  71. EtherealStrife says:
  72. Amelie says:

    @Dervish: What the hell, people? This guy wrote his letter in a mostly-humorous tone and as a heads-up, not as a demand for blood money from the company in question, or a call for everyone to boycott them.

    Because acknowledging what was actually said would deny them the opportunity to their “Oh, I’m so clever and why doesn’t The Onion hire me” remarks.

  73. FMulder says:

    Q. Mug handle gets really hot when microwaved.
    A. Don’t microwave that mug. Use a mug that doesn’t get that hot and in general, when microwaving, use a heat-safe mitt to remove items from microwave.

  74. XTC46 says:

    it has a thinker handle (and probably solid rather than hollow) to support a giant cup. the thick ceramic retains the heat better than a thin one with air in the center.

  75. backbroken says:

    Here is a question…why would they phrase the warning, “May get hot in microwave”? Why not just say, “Will get hot in microwave.” That way there’s no wiggle room for a lawsuit.

  76. backbroken says:


    Was there an article or blog item I was supposed to read? I just read the comments and followed along.

  77. thalia says:

    Wait! Things get hot when you put them in the microwave? Well I never!

  78. coan_net says:

    I hate when my microwave heats things up! Stupid microwaves! If I wanted something hot, I would have went to McDonald’s and ordered a coffee. A microwave is there so you have a place to store plates on top of.

    but seriously – I always check to see if things are microwavable safe before sticking it in there. Stick other things in there, along with things that even give you an extra warning that microwaving it may make it hot – well have fun… but to me, this sounds more like a user issue.

  79. SoFlaSnowMan says:

    If a container, or any part of it, gets hot in the microwave, it generally can be assumed to NOT be microwave-safe and should not be used in the microwave.

    Here is a good description of the issue, as well as a test for determining in advance if a utensil is microwave-safe.


  80. macinjosh says:

    You’re about the Kevin Smith aren’t ya? :)

  81. SwampAssJ says:

    I’ve had the same problem, which is why I learned not to use that mug ever again in the microwave. As for the nasty people responding in this thread, please get help.

  82. SOhp101 says:

    That’s what happens when you buy cheaply made goods. The letter might have been written with a playful tone, but I think it’s really a disguise to see the idiots that would try to defend it, like lemur here.

    Buy a fugly mug like that and your hand almost deserves to get burnt.

  83. hills says:

    my blue ceramic crate & barrell plates/bowls/mugs do the same thing – they get super hot in the microwave (not the food though) – so I just use other things in the microwave that don’t burn my skin off….

  84. ptr2void says:

    Well, HOT HAND could save on fuel costs this winter if the mug is used as a space heater as well as a holder of delicious thermonuclear beverages.

  85. stephdmonkey says:

    Frequently the handles of commercial ceramic objects (as opposed to those made by hippies in Vermont) are made of a different mixture than the bowl portion, so the designer can optimize the shape of each portion and have them deal with the stresses placed on them differently. The handle tends to be made of much stronger stuff than the rest of the piece, unless it’s going to be very thick. Then the thing is built and glazed as one piece, to make it look nice. The ceramic the handle is made of absorbs the microwave energy more readily than the ceramic the bowl is made of, in many cases. Go home (or to the office kitchen) and test it out on some mugs.

  86. ElizabethD says:

    Ahh, thanks, Stephdmonkey! There’s the answer I was waiting for.

    Someone in the materials-engineering field, or ceramics (the scientific end of it, not a potter) could probably give even more detail. Still, this was an interesting explanation. Muchas gracias.

  87. superbureaucrat says:

    @Murph1908: @phillygirl64: MMM.. Chinese lead-based glaze pizza.

  88. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Why are you singling lemur out? Seems like s/he put a lot of time into writing a thoughtful argument (even if you disagree with it).

  89. hyperlexis says:

    IKEA’s stoneware items that I own, white plates and cups, do this also. They were sold as dishwasher and microwave safe, however that’s really untrue. Some, not all of the items (some were from different countries of manufacture) do heat up in the microwave, while the food inside stays cold. This is extremely dangerous and I reported it to Ikea and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some have gotten so hot that plastic wrap melted onto the outside and stuck.

    Ikea said bring them back for an exchange, which I did. The “new” set of the same line of dishes also reacted in the microwaves.

    It’s just rediculous. Something is wrong with the glaze. All dishware like this should be microwave safe. Someone could get seriously hurt, especially a child or an elderly person who isn’t careful. Unfortunately the CPSC never bothered to respond. Oh well. Just be careful if you have Ikea’s dishes!

  90. flowergirl says:

    @rewinditback: not just distilled water, either. i’ve had superheated water explode from microwaving- tap water that was run through a brita pitcher.
    also, i had always thought, if you put a container of any kind in the microwave and it heats up – not just absorbing heat from the warm food- that means that container is not safe to microwave. and people, don’t ever put styrofoam in the microwave. instant cancer.

  91. Is it just me, or does anyone else hear Eddie Izzard doing his “French I learned in school” routine when they hear “Sur La Table”?

  92. wesrubix says:

    Anyone who understands ceramics can explain this problem. I bet the handle is thicker than the body of the cup–not the diameter, the thickness of the actual ceramic. The thicker the ceramic, the hotter the core will get and the longer it will remain hot. It is an insulator and–not a heat conductor–a heat absorber due to its molecular make up. Microwaves accelerate water molecules. Ceramics have plenty of those inside.

    Why are you microwaving mugs? This is almost as bad as when people microwaved their dry sponges. What happened to tea kettles?

  93. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    Here is my highly scientific analysis of this, with the whole of my vast understanding of physics, thermodynamics, microwav-ery and pottery:

    Things may get hot in the microwave.

    Personally, when I microwave something, I touch the container with a tap to see if it is hot or not… even if Ive microwaved this container before. Why? Because I dont want to burn my f**king hand.

    “May get hot in microwave.”

    The fact that a statement such as that is even needed is a sad refelction of our brainless and litigous society.

    BTW: Jumping in a pool may make one wet.

  94. JAYEONE says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: lol…thanks for reminding me why I like Ellen…I kinda forgot after the Izzygate/public-sobbing thing…

  95. JAYEONE says:

    @ptr2void: damn if that doesn’t sound like a line out of an SNL skit…

    Dan Ackroyd: But WAIT! There’s MORE! It can also hold the delicious THERMONUCLEAR BEVERAGE of your choice!

  96. uricmu says:

    @Murph1908: Microwaves are an unnatural way to heat food, so don’t be surprised by unnatural heating patterns :)

  97. acasto says:

    I have a mug that does the exact same thing. Most of my other mugs I can reheat in the microwave for a minute or two. But one in particular, the contents barely warms up at all, while the handle gets extremely extremely hot. I’m talking so hot it can still burn you through a dish towel. I just figured since microwaves work by exciting water molecules, that moisture must have seeped into the mugs innards and in the handle it doesn’t have a sink of lower-temp beverage to dump the excess heat into. Also, when heated up you can see moisture seeping from the bottom of the cup where the glazing is left off. I don’t heat this one anymore simply because I’m afraid it could explode.

  98. KJones says:

    This is why the Chinese don’t put handles on their teacups. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to drink, so they don’t they don’t pick them up.

    Not to criticize the injured woman, but why would anyone use a microwave to boil water, even if it is faster? A kettle (stove top or plug in) won’t use much more electricity than a microwave, although electric kettles that are plugged in all day certainly will.

    As well, boiling water in a stainless steel container (a pot or a kettle) will probably be healthier for you than boiling it in plastic or ceramic. (I have never understood the appeal of teflon.)

  99. z1rdarryl says:

    I was wondering, does stuff get cold if you put it in the freezer?
    Also, It seems if you put thinngs in water, THEY GET WET.

  100. Alvarez says:

    Also, due to simple physics any extremities of the mug such as the handle may have the heat transferred to it because cup section of the mug was cooling quickly. The cup section of the mug would have been cooling quickly (and slow to heat up in general) because it was so large and has a large portion of it’s surface area open to the air. As the mug cools, the heat is transfered to the handle because the handle, being in the extremity, is cooler and the heat needs a place to go to.

    The handle may have become even hotter once you started pouring cold water into the cup section of the mug. As the heat is being displaced it needs a place to go to, it goes into the water but also transfers into the handle. This can be dangerous if you’re holding the mug by it’s handle when you pour cold water into it.

    This can be tested simply by placing a utensil, such as a spoon, into a hot cup of water. Let the spoon stay there for a while and get hot. Now run the scoop end of the spoon under some cold water while holding the handle end. You will notice the heat not only transfers into the running water but also into the end that you’re holding. So, be careful you might get burned doing this :)

    Smaller mugs or mugs made out of different materials, like other commenter’s have pointed out, may transfer less heat into the handle. Likely it was a design flaw as you already assumed. Hopefully this helped to understand why it was happening though :)

  101. KIRZEN2007 says:

    *taking a molten handled stab at it*

    Looks like a ceramic mug, its very possible that the perticular ceramic that they’re using is very rich in ferrous metals (we all know why you’re not supposed to put metal objects in the microwave). As to why they’re using this ceramic mix, perhaps it adheres to their glaze better (makes it less prone to chipping) or is harder and more durable (less prone to your mug breaking). Could even be that it simply conducts heat better and is less prone to cracking or shattering under rapid heat changes). The glaze could be likewise metal heavy, for similar reasons. Its more likely however, that the mug is intended to be an insulator, so that the contents of your cup don’t heat the cup up rapidly. Anyone who’s tried drinking tea out of a small cup with no handle at a chinese restaurant knows just how hot boiling water can make a cup without a handle.

    Now… as to why the handle gets so hot. Provided that it’s something in the glaze or something in the ceramic (metal content more than likely) microwaves heat things based on surface area, that’s why your food gets hotter at the edges than it does in the middle when you’re nuking it. The handle, being low volume and high surface area compared to the cup, would get -very- hot, and (if its a good insulator) would -stay- very hot for quite some time.

  102. Mary says:

    I microwave things in mugs all the time, because I like to eat food out of a bowl, and I have these great latte-mug type things that are fantastic for eating soup out of. The reason I use those instead of bowls is because I can grab the handle for a second to slide the mug onto a potholder and then have my delicious food. I also have no reason to have a tea-kettle, I don’t drink tea or coffee. Sometimes there’s a reason to microwave a mug.

    While on the one hand, you should probably tap the handle EVERY TIME before you grab onto it, I admit I don’t always. Even the same mug can sometimes get hotter than you expect. But if you remember to tap the mug handle for a second, you can usually tell if you have to use a pot holder. But pot holders and mug handles usually mean spilled stuff to me, because it’s just not a good way to grip anything.

    The thing that people seem to be ignoring is that she probably only grabbed the handle for a few SECONDS at best. Once you touch something hot, you usually let go instantly, it’s just the way we’re wired. If in a few seconds the mug handle actually scalded her hand to the point of needing treatment and causing intense pain, then it was too hot to be used in the microwave, and the warning is NOT clear enough about that. “May get hot in microwave” is a ridiculous warning, so it’s not a justification. If the mug gets too hot to touch like that, it should be marked “not microwave safe.”

    While my plates and mugs are often too hot to really hold onto when they’re fresh from the microwave, I almost never encounter a situation like this one. This leads me to believe that it’s either a defect in that mug, or that they should come with something that says they should NOT be used in the microwave, because it’s not made properly for it.

  103. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    @Beerad: I don’t know why the handle doesn’t get nearly as hot as the body of the container; I just know that it doesn’t, and that I can heat up coffee in a regular coffee mug in the microwave to the highest temperature that I can stand it, and I don’t have to wear an oven mitt to drink it. Higher surface-to-mass ratio than the body of the mug? Could be true.

  104. Lidko says:

    CSDIEGO is right, its probably a leaded glaze –this is common and not necessarily Chinese manufacturing irresponsibility this time. So, being conductive, lead grounds/absorbs microwaves (and just about everything else in the electromagnetic spectrum). Don’t forget that just because you’re not playing with fire doesn’t mean its safe.

  105. @1 says:

    This post is to provide some information in place of some of the small minded sarcasm.
    The same thing happened to me. I’ve been using ceramic cookware in the microwave for decades. When it first came out, it was all the rage because the microwave heats the water content in the food and the container stayed cool. Over the past decade I noticed some ceramic dishes would heat up on their own. I even used that to warm plates before serving. Never did they heat to the extreme level as described. Recently I heated a new mug full of milk. This one did the opposite. The mug seamed to absorb almost all rays leaving the milk luke warm, the mug hot (tempered by the milk) and the handle super heated (luckily I avoided a similar injury).
    What changed the ceramics or the microwave? After wasting time on these posts I found another article that led me to the answer – impurities in the ceramic and yes, my cup was made in China. When microwaves first came out, we likely bought products that were safe and subject to government scrutiny. This is probably no longer the case ).

    The following product is meant to heat and the impurities in it are by design.I might actually order this product but for the purpose of this post, I’m using it for the science for the science that it makes mention to:

    New Cookware Speeds Microwaving Time
    By Robert Roy Britt, LiveScience Managing Editor

    posted: 27 July 2008 09:58 pm ET

    This rice cooker, available in Japan, interacts with microwaves to generate heat and cook rice in about half the time of conventional cookware. Credit: Sridhar Komarneni
    Full Size 1 of 1.This rice cooker, available in Japan, interacts with microwaves to generate heat and cook rice in about half the time of conventional cookware. Credit: Sridhar KomarneniA new material designed for use in microwaves heats foods and beverages more quickly and saves energy, its inventors say.

    A microwave oven bombards food with microwave radiation, which is absorbed by certain molecules, including water, fats and sugars. The microwaves, powerful enough to kill viruses and bacteria, vibrate those molecules, heating the food.

    “Conventional coffee cups are made from ceramic compositions which do not absorb microwaves and hence they do not heat up,” explained Sridhar Komarneni, a professor of clay mineralogy at Pennsylvania State University. “When conventional ceramics are used for heating food, only food heats up and then the hot food heats up the ceramic.”

    Komarneni and colleagues in Japan made plates from a mix of 20 percent magnetite and 80 percent of a naturally occurring petalite mineral containing lithium, aluminum and silicon oxides. The new ceramic interacts with the microwaves and heats up, and “the microwaves heat up the container and hence the food,” Komarneni told LiveScience. “Rice cooks in about half or less time.”

    The research is detailed in the Aug. 26 issue of the American Chemical Society’s journal Chemistry of Materials.

    Containers made from the material could pop popcorn more quickly, too, the researchers say.

    And food stays hot longer.

    “These ceramic materials not only heat up with microwaves but also retain heat for about 15 minutes and hence the food stays hot in the container,” Komarneni said. “Ceramic plates could be used for pizza delivery as these plates are insulating materials.”

    A rice cooker and plates made from the material are already being sold by ASAHI Ceramics Research Co. in Japan.

  106. Valley7 says:

    I found this posting by researching why a variety of ‘MY” mug handles get outrageously hot. The answer is not faulty design or thickness of handle. It is MOISTURE IN THE CLAY HANDLE. The glaze has tiny cracks that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. This allows moisture to enter the handle. It is the condensed space of moisture that is actually heating up so hot. Be sure to use a pot holder to handle the mug until it cools enough to handle. Look at the bright side, some people pay extra for mugs with handles designed to hold heat all for the benefit of keeping the drink hot/warm longer. A nonvisible crack in your mug handle and by George you’ve got it! :o)