Many households and even offices nowadays often have microwave ovens in their kitchen or pantry. It can cook food, preheat precooked food, defrost frozen and help you prepare meals faster. Many swear by microwave ovens, especially if they do not have time to cook.

However, like most appliances, microwave ovens must be used with care. Before you can preheat or defrost food, you have to use a microwave and oven safe cookware to cook or preheat. But, there are those who do not recognize the importance of such cookware. They would still use regular cookware that they do not realize can affect the food.

To help you out, we have here a short guide on what you need to know about microwave-safe cookware.


What’s a microwave-safe bowl?

A microwave-safe bowl or cookware is cookware made from strong material that works well with microwave rays. With this in mind, the material should not deform, grow too hot, cause damage to the appliance or release dangerous chemicals on food when it is exposed to microwave rays. The rays should pass through the material and heat the food directly. Anything that does not allow microwave rays to pass-through cannot be used in a microwave.


What you should not microwave?

Microwaves can heat food by using water molecules found in food to vibrate. It will then cause the other molecules to vibrate and create heat. However, not all items where water can be trapped should be placed inside a microwave oven. It is possible that the food or cookware in question may explode. Some examples of food you should not microwave include grapes, watermelons, hot peppers and eggs.

Hot, boiling water can also make some damage in your microwave no matter where you heat it. Microwave rays can super-heat it and cause it to explore in the interior. To prevent it, you can put a chopstick or another stick to regulate the heat. You can also cover it so the water won’t spill out of the cups.  

Metal objects with sharp-edges like forks and aluminum foil must also be far away from your microwave because it can cause sparks. These sparks can burn the interior of your oven and render it unusable.

Plastic containers (unless they are microwave-safe), brown paper bags, grocery bags and newspapers must not be used for microwaving food. Brown paper bags, according to the US Department of Agriculture, are unsanitary and can emit fumes. It may also catch fire if placed under extreme heat. Some paper bags may also contain glue and ink, which can cause fumes. The same could be said for newspapers and grocery bags.

It is also noted by experts that some of these are microwave-unsafe and can melt from indirect heating. As a result, it could create a burn hazard or cause chemicals to enter the food. Plastics, in particular, can melt under certain temperatures which is why it is important to check the container before heating.


Which are Microwave safe materials?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, microwave-safe materials include glass, ceramic, special plastic containers and paper. These materials allow microwaves to pass through the material and heat the food within. The material will also grow hot enough to assist the microwave and heat the food or drink.

It is important to take note that not all ceramic, plastic and paper can be microwaved. For paper plates, napkins and towels, they must be labeled as microwave-safe before it is used. For ceramics, it should be porcelain and stoneware. Low-fired ceramics can explode under extreme heat. They must also not have metallic paint or decorative metal because it can cause sparks. For paper, wax and parchment paper are safe. For glass, Pyrex glass can be used for both microwaves and ovens safely.

Styrofoam is normally not a material you can microwave. However, there are Styrofoam products that are microwave safe. Check the container if it has a mark on it that says microwave safe. If not, transfer the food to a microwaveable bowl to heat it.


Is it really microwave safe when it says so on the dish?

Nowadays, there are dishes or cookware that say they are “microwave safe.” Usually, this means that the material used to create it will not absorb any microwaves. It will simply pass through it and heat the contents. When you take it out of the microwave, the handles are still cool and safe to hold.

If you are uncertain about your cookware, you can find out if they are microwave safe by doing these steps.

  1. Fill a glass or cup with one cup of water.
  2. Place the cup beside the dish in the microwave.
  3. Have the dish and the cup microwaved for one minute in high setting.
  4. If the dish feels warm, it is not microwave-safe. If it does not feel warm, label the dish so you can determine if you can use it for microwaving food in the future.


When you use plastic containers, you must check if they are not cracked, discolored or old. If they are, it may be a potential health hazard. If you need to use a plastic wrap, make sure that the plastic does not touch the food to prevent chemicals from spreading on your food.

Aluminum foil can be used in microwaves but it depends on the microwave in question and how you cover the food. Check your microwave if it will be able to cook food in aluminum foil and how to wrap it to prevent damage.


Final Thoughts?

Microwave ovens can help you prepare food. However, for it to prepare or cook your food properly, you must use the right equipment. Double-check your dishes and cookware if they can be placed in your microwave oven. If they are not, buy one. If you do not use the right cookware for your microwave oven, not only will your food be damaged, but your microwave’s life span as well. So, be wise and take precautions.

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