Stomp and ITE investigate the curious case of exploding microwave water

Your eyelids are heavy, your consciousness ebbing away.

Your mind screams for the caffeine you needed 15 minutes ago.

But the kettle isn't working, so what do you do?

You microwave the water, of course.

Well, it turns out that is not the smartest move. 

Recently, a Facebook user uploaded a video showing an 'explosion' after adding coffee powder to microwaved water.

The still water had suddenly fizzled when coffee powder was added to it, before gurgling and violently overflowing from the container. 

Intrigued, the Stomp Team headed down to ITE College East to seek an explanation for the phenomenon.

Lecturer of Chemical Process Technology, Desmond Lim, explained the reaction as an instance of  'superheated water' --- liquid water under pressure between the boiling point 100°C and 374°C.

Placing a beaker of water into a microwave, Desmond proceeded to set the timer to five minutes.

When the timer stopped, he measured the temperature of the water again, which showed 103°C. He proceeded to add salt. 

As expected, the microwaved water, which had been still just moments before, started bubbling upon Desmond's addition of salt, resulting in a violent reaction. 

Desmond further clarified that the phenomenon was only possible as the beaker had a completely smooth surface.

In the absence of surfaces which bubbles can cling to upon the water reaching its boiling point, the water becomes 'superheated'. 

Lastly, Desmond also had some advice for caffeine addicts: "Always use a convention electric kettle if you're boiling water.

"If you have to microwave water, make sure to let it cool down for a few minutes before adding anything to it."

Watch a video of the experiment below, but remember not to try this on your own.