How to Microwave a CD (Safely)

Microwaving a CD or compact disc produces plasma and a firework-like display of sparks. The CD ends up with an interesting burned pattern. As you might imagine, you'll never be able to use it for data ever again! It's easy to microwave a CD, but there's a chance of ruining your microwave or harming your health. Here's how to microwave a CD safely.

How to Microwave a CD

melted CD with cracks and rainbow pattern

PiccoloNamek / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

  1. Choose a CD or CD-R that you don't mind ruining. If it has data, you'll never see it again. Similarly, you'll never be able to record data after microwaving the CD.
  2. Prop the CD up against a glass of water or a damp paper towel. Do not place the CD against a metal object. It's not a great plan to run your microwave with nothing in it except for the CD.
  3. Close the microwave door and nuke the CD for a few seconds. Do not microwave the CD for an extended period of time (more than a few seconds is too long). You'll see a glow and sparks almost as soon as you turn on the microwave.
  4. Allow the CD to cool before removing it. The heated metal and plastic is hot and can burn you.
  5. Avoid inhaling vapors from the microwaved CD. Melted plastic produces toxins. Similarly, vaporized aluminum isn't good for you. Some CDs are coated with gold instead of aluminum, but you still shouldn't inhale it.
  6. Discard the CD and wipe down the microwave.


You'll certainly ruin the CD in the name of science, but you should be aware you may ruin your microwave also. There is a risk that a stray spark might damage the mechanism of the microwave. This will not be covered by the manufacturer's warranty. You can minimize the risk to your microwave by using the minimum time you need to see the effect.


  • Peek, Hans B. (January 2010). "The Emergence of the Compact Disc". IEEE Communications Magazine. 48 (1): 10–17. doi:10.1109/MCOM.2010.5394021
  • Immink, Kees Schouhamer. (2018). "How we made the compact disc". Nature Electronics. 1.
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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How to Microwave a CD (Safely)." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 25). How to Microwave a CD (Safely). Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How to Microwave a CD (Safely)." ThoughtCo. (accessed September 27, 2021).