Yesterday when I went about starting some seeds, I noticed some fungi growing in a new bag of supposedly sterile seedling mix. I knew you could sterilize soil in the oven, so I did some Google research and came across several methods of sterilizing them in the microwave. Since the oven method would take about 20 minutes and the microwave method was only going to take 2.5 minutes, microwaving it was.
I followed the instruction that I found here; I piled some soil into some freezer bags and popped them in the microwave. I did read the warning on several sites about the soil creating a bad smell, but I figured, “How bad can it be?” I love the smell of damp soil so I merely opened a window. Within two minutes time of cooking, however, the kitchen was filled with a nasty odor that I’m still trying to identify. It wasn’t electrical fire smell, but on the same intensity level. It wasn’t burning plastic smell, but lingered just as long. It didn’t smell like rotting food, but made me gag in the same way. It was a totally new smell. A totally new, awful, smell.
So be forewarned. when they say it smells, they mean it. Open plenty of doors and windows before you hit start on the microwave. And, by the way, it is supposed to smell worse when you do it in the oven. Thankfully I was pressed for time.