The microwave oven is very convenient for melting agar for viable cell counts. Composite data of four microwave ovens indicated that melting time for 50 ml of agar per bottle was about 1 min for one bottle, 1.5 min for two bottles, and 2.5 min for four bottles heated simultaneously. Melting time for 100 ml of agar per bottle was about 1.5 min for one bottle, 2.5 min for two bottles, and 4 min for four bottles. Melting times of agar in square or flat bottles were similar. Agar melted by microwave treatment performed in viable cell counts equally as well as agar melted by the conventional boiling method. Even after prolonged (50% longer than melting time) microwave treatment, performance of the agar remained unchanged. Agar melted by microwave treatment can remain in liquid form (48°C) in situ for about 30 min (50 ml) and 1 h (100 ml). When removed from the microwave oven immediately after melting, the agar remained in liquid form (48°C) at room temperature for about 25 min (50 ml) and 40 min (100 ml). The microwave oven is highly efficient in melting agar without detrimental effects on the performance of agar.

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