A microwave is the best appliance available to reheat food if you want convenience. However, not everything is safe to put in the microwave. That is why you might think can u microwave styrofoam containers?
According to the report of the National Fire Protection Association, between 2014 and 2018, US fire departments responded to an estimated average of 172,900 home structure fires per year started by cooking activities. These fires have caused a lot of deaths, injuries, and economical damage.
As a microwave is one of the most convenient appliances for warming up your food, that doesn’t mean that it is meant to withstand everything. And for the safety of your microwave, you need to know what you should not put in the microwave.
In this article, we have shared the list of 11 things you should not microwave including styrofoam. Because, some foods, beverages, and containers can release toxins, burn, melt, or even explode due to the high heat in the microwave. Also, we have discussed whether you should put styrofoam containers in your microwave.
So, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Can You Microwave Styrofoam
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has considered polystyrene food containers and packaging to be safe for both hot and cold food items.
But can u microwave styrofoam? The answer is not all plastic foam containers should be used in the microwave.
To determine if a foam container is microwave-safe or not, you need to look for a symbol that means the FDA has determined the container is safe to heat in the microwave.
Also when these styrofoam containers are heated, some styrene can migrate into your food within the container.
This mainly happens when the food item is meat or cheese. And it can be dangerous as styrene has been identified as a cancer-causing agent.
Also, styrofoam containers that are not marked as microwave-safe could melt or catch on fire if they are heated in the microwave for too long.
11 Things You Should Not Microwave Including Styrofoam
For the safety of your microwave and more importantly the health of your family, there are some things that should never be placed in the microwave. Here are 15 things you should not use in the microwave including styrofoam.
Polystyrene foam or Styrofoam containers usually do a good job while protecting foods in the refrigerator, however, most foam containers are actually not made for the microwave.
So, microwaving this type of foam container can cause the carcinogenic substance styrene to seep into your foods.
And the high heat of the microwave can also cause the container to break, dispersing hot food that can cause burns. So, you need to transfer the food to a microwave-safe container before heating it.
This material is also difficult to biodegrade and if the contents inside are hot enough, then your food could melt through the packaging.
However, there are some polystyrene foam containers that can be used in your microwave, you just need to ensure that you check before warming.
2. Paper Bags
Unless the paper bag is actually developed for use in the microwave, like popcorn bags, it is not safe to use for reheating in the microwave. Because brown paper lunch bags and printed paper takeout containers can also release toxins into your foods.
Popcorn bags are generally equipped with susceptors, a material that is actually made to consume the radio waves produced by microwaves.
However, typical paper bags, which are used in grocery stores, do not have susceptors and can easily catch fire if the food becomes too hot while heating.
Also those paper Chinese food containers usually have a thin metal wire handle that can create sparks and flames which can ruin your microwave.
So, if you are confused about whether your container is microwave safe or not, you should not put it in the microwave.
3. Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil can be great for oven baking, but you should never use them in the microwave. The interior of a microwave is generally made of metal, so it actually functions like a mirror.
But when the aluminum foil is exposed to microwaves, this will simply reflect the heat instead of absorbing it.
It will cause the metal to burn rapidly and potentially ignite. And not only it can cause a fire, but it could also seriously damage your microwave. That is why it is very harmful to your microwave and very dangerous.
So, it is always best to use microwave-safe containers or dinnerware to reheat your meals in the microwave. Because, it is nice to see sparks fly, but not so much when it comes to reheating your food.
4. Travel Mugs
If you want to warm up your hot beverage before beginning a journey, don’t put your travel mug in the microwave. Because most travel mugs are usually not designed for extreme heat, especially if they are made from stainless steel.
And just like anything metallic, the stainless steel will also block the heat from warming your coffee or tea or any other thing in the mug and can even damage your microwave.
However, if your mug is plastic, then you should always check to see if it is marked as microwave-safe before using it.
If you need to warm up your coffee, then use a glass or porcelain mug to heat it in the microwave before you pour it into a travel mug.
In some cases, plastic mugs may not be safe and can even separate and ruin the insulation that keeps the beverage hot.
5. Hard-Boiled Eggs
You are maybe tired of cold eggs for your mid-day snack. But, if you are thinking that it is quicker to boil an egg in the microwave, then you should think again. Because microwaves cook at high temperatures.
So, the rapid heating process of the microwave can create a lot of steam inside the egg, which can get super hot.
But, as the steam has nowhere to go, this will eventually result in an eggy explosion, and also a messy microwave to clean. So, it is always best to boil eggs in a saucepan.
And there are hundreds of gadgets for sale in stores and online that promise to safely and easily cook eggs in the microwave, but you should be wise not to waste your money on those.
6. Hot peppers
As well as being hot in flavor, hot or spicy peppers can also explode like eggs at high temperatures, and they can even catch fire in the microwave.
And with that, it also releases capsaicin, which is the active ingredient that makes them spicy, into the air that can sting your eyes or burn your throat when inhaled.
If you don’t like the effects of pepper spray, avoid placing chili peppers in the microwave. Because hot peppers and microwaves are a recipe for pain. So, keep that in mind before putting those peppers in your microwave.
If you are cooking hot peppers, then it is better to use the stovetop, oven, or broiler and always handle it with care. Otherwise, your microwave will bring tears to your eyes and you should avoid that.
7. Plastic Bags And Plastic Containers
Plastic storage containers can be good for storing your leftover foods in the fridge, but they are not so great for reheating foods in the microwave. Such plastics are generally not made to withstand high heat and they will eventually melt.
And this can also release toxic chemicals into your food which is very poisonous. Because, many plastic containers usually contain bisphenol A or BPA, a chemical that has been linked to many health issues from cancer to diabetes.
And heating those plastic containers will release the BPA into the food. And you should also keep grocery bags and any other lightweight plastic bags out of the microwave, as they will also melt in the high heat.
8. Frozen Meat
One of the many important benefits of the microwave is the quick and intense heat to thaw and cook frozen foods. However, one of the foods that should be monitored very carefully in the microwave is frozen meat.
Because the meat is usually thick, especially if it is ground beef. So, it is very difficult to make sure that the center is fully-cooked. And this can result in over-cooked areas while some spots in the meat are still raw.
The different thicknesses of the meat will absorb microwaves at different rates, leaving some areas cooked while others are still frozen. So, the safest way to thaw meat is to defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.
9. Breast Milk
Nowadays, most busy new moms and working mothers have taken to freezing breast milk and thawing it as needed. The practice is perfectly safe, but it should be done correctly. However, microwaving frozen breast milk is not a good idea.
Because, microwaves heat milk unevenly, which can create “hot spots” in the milk. It is dangerous and can scald the baby’s throat.
Also, from some research, it has been found that microwaving breast milk can destroy immune-boosting proteins.
The FDA actually suggests heating the breast milk under hot running tap water or in a pan of hot water that has been removed from the stove burner.
And before feeding, you should shake the bottle, and also test the temperature of the milk to make sure that it is not too hot for the baby to drink.
10. Cup Of Water
Boiling a cup of water in the microwave seems very quick, simple, and easy. But, if you overdo it, the cup and the water can become extremely hot, which can cause scalding and minor burns. Also, in some rare cases, it could explode in the microwave.
Though it can take a minute or so longer, we still think that it is safest to boil water in an old-fashioned way in a pot or kettle on the stove. You may also think that whether you should put glass in the microwave.
To be on the safe side, we will strongly recommend you put glass in your microwave only if it is labeled as microwave safe. If it has that label, then it is specifically designed to withstand the high temperatures of a microwave oven.
11. Lidless Containers
Unless you like cleaning the microwave or you are looking for a mess to clean up, make sure that every container you put in the microwave is covered. A vented microwave cover will definitely make your life much easier.
If you put a container with any type of sauce such as tomato sauce in the microwave without a cover, then you can be sure that the contents will explode in the microwave from becoming rapidly overheated.
Also, don’t put a dish into the microwave without a cover. You need to put a microwavable lid over your bowl or plate to keep your food contained. And it is recommended to keep dishes covered using a microwave cover or microwave-safe material.
Wrap Up On Can U Microwave Styrofoam
When it comes to your microwaves, it is best to keep them simple. You need to remember that they were made to heat your food, not complicate it. If you are unsure about putting something in the microwave, you should not put that in the microwave.
And, if something has a “microwave safe” label on it, that usually means you can microwave it without damaging the product or your microwave.
However, it does not mean that the product can’t get extremely hot and become unsafe for you to touch after it has been in the microwave.
If you are not sure about how a container will work in the microwave, then you should heat the food in something else which is microwave safe and then transfer it to that container.
I hope you find our detailed article really helpful and if you have any questions related to it, please let us know in the comments below.
FAQ: Can You Microwave Styrofoam
As a lot of people now use microwaves in their daily life, they have many questions regarding this topic. Here, I have briefly answered some of the most commonly asked and most relevant questions.
Q1. Can You Microwave Styrofoam For 10 Seconds?
Ans: Food-use Styrofoam containers are generally made from expanded polystyrene and they are not oven safe to heat in a microwave. Because these containers will begin to break down and melt at high temperatures and can leach chemicals into your food and drink.
Q2. Is Styrofoam Toxic When Heated?
Ans: As styrene has been linked to cancer, microwaving Styrofoam can be very unsafe. The compound and other harmful chemicals may leak into your food since the containers can melt or break down at high heat in the microwave.
Q3. Can You Get Food Poisoning From Styrofoam?
Ans: If you buy hot food, soup, or coffee and it is packaged in polystyrene or styrofoam containers, some of the chemicals from the container can leak into your food. These chemicals can gradually cause severe health problems.