There are seven different types of plastic containers. Some of them are considered perfectly suitable for microwaves while others should be kept away from this kitchen appliance. In addition, people are becoming increasingly concerned about certain health hazards that might be associated with microwaving in plastic containers.
On the bright side, you are not likely to put yourself at great peril if you use plastic containers in a microwave. But there are some guidelines to be followed and some general rules that are well-worth your attention.
Read on to find out more about microwave-safe plastic containers and how to find them.
How to Find a Microwave-Safe Plastic Container
When you get a new container, make sure it features the Microwave Safe stamp. The symbol that represents safety has three wavy or squiggly lines and it usually includes a microwave icon.
The microwave-safe approval/stamp signals that the container has undergone rigorous testing to ensure you can use it in the microwave worry-free. To be exact, a container with such a label doesn’t melt or ooze dangerous chemicals when holding hot food.
This labeling comes from the FDA so it is the best way to ensure you choose the right option. But one might wonder what happens if the container doesn’t have the stamp of approval. Well, this is where things become tricky.
The lack of microwave-safe labeling may indicate that the container hasn’t been tested. Technically, this doesn’t make it unsafe for microwaves; however, there are so many variations of plastic so it is almost impossible to tell whether the container is safe or not.
Take PET for example. Some polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics perform great in microwaves but others don’t do so well. The bottom line is to avoid using containers you are not sure about inside a microwave.
Non-Microwave-Safe Plastic Containers
There are a few specific types of plastic containers that are not suitable for microwaves. In general, the majority of takeout containers are not microwave-friendly. The same goes for plastic containers for yogurt, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and topping.
On the other hand, plastic TV dinner trays can be used in the microwave – but only once. So, dispose of or recycle the tray once you are done with the meal. Otherwise, some of the chemicals from the plastic may leach into hot food.
Note: A common misconception is that Styrofoam is not microwave safe. However, both polystyrene and Styrofoam containers can be used in a microwave. Just don’t forget to check the label, as it should also feature the microwave safe stamp.
Tips and Tricks for Safe Microwaving
By now you should have a better understanding of plastic containers that are safe to use in a microwave. Nevertheless, there are still a few tips and tricks you should know about to ensure risk-free microwaving with these containers.
Plastics to Avoid
Plastic materials which contain polyvinyl chloride, polycarbonate, BPA, and phthalates are usually not suitable for microwave ovens. There is a possibility for these chemicals to contaminate your food so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Don’t Use Old Plastic Containers
This should go without saying but even microwave-safe plastic containers have a finite lifespan. So, if you’ve used a plastic container to microwave food too many times, find a replacement for it. This goes double for cracked or scratched containers.
Vent the Container
You should vent the container before you place the food inside and put it in a microwave. Taking the lid off to let some air in or lifting the cover edge should be more than enough. In addition, if you realize that the container has a peculiar smell, you should stop using it even if it’s not too old and battered.
It is advisable to avoid plastic wrapping over the containers since it might melt. Instead, you should go for parchment or wax paper. On the other hand, a special dome that fits over the plastic container is even better.
Take a Look at the Microwave Instructions
The manual that came with your microwave usually contains comprehensive information about plastic containers which are safe to use. It should give you the exact type of containers that are suitable for that microwave.
In addition, the manual might also have information about the settings to use with certain containers. On top of that, you may be able to find out which food it safe to cook or heat up in a plastic container.
Microwave ovens are designed to make your life much easier. And plastic containers can be one of the most convenient receptacles for reheating meals in a microwave. So there’s no need to refrain from using them. Just follow the tips and rules outlined in this write-up and you should be perfectly safe.