What you can and cannot put in a microwave

The microwave is easy to use and very practical to heat up food quickly. But it is also an appliance with which you must take precautions. If your leftover pizzaWhile your pasta from the night before or your bowl of milk comes out hot and appetizing, other foods and some materials are not microwave safe at all, and can be a safety or health hazard.

So we're going to help you sort things out, by making a first list of what is reasonable to put in your microwave oven, and then a second list of what is totally forbidden or to avoid. But first, let's take a little detour to understand how this magical device works.

It is easier to know what materials and foods can be heated in the microwave once you understand how it works.

The microwave oven, as its name indicates, emits waves to heat and cook food. To be more precise, they are electromagnetic waves that propagate in the air. These electromagnetic waves, when they come into contact with the food, make their molecules move and mainly their water molecules. The friction generated by the rapid movement of all the water molecules at the same time releases heat. And it is this heat that will heat or cook your food.

What you can safely put in the microwave

First, let's talk about what you can safely do with your microwave, as well as the materials in which you can safely heat your food:

  • Everything made of glass is microwave safe. Nevertheless, it is necessary to prefer solid glass, such as Pyrex, which does not absorb the waves and does not heat up.
  • You can also use porcelain or ceramic plates, bowls and other containers, as long as you are careful not to burn yourself, as they tend to get hot. Also, beware of ornaments and patterns, found on some plates for example, which can make sparks fly!
  • The logo that symbolizes a microwave and the mention "microwave-safe are indicators that will allow you to quickly identify frozen and prepared meals, usually in plastic trays, that you can put in the microwave.
  • No risk either with your parchment paper (baking paper), nor with your wax strips (waxing).
  • Paper plates and napkins, as well as paper towels, should not be a problem as long as they are not made of plastic or other materials. So check before closing the microwave door and pressing the Start button.

What not to put in the microwave

cropped view of an elderly man putting a shoe in a microwave
cropped view of an elderly man putting a shoe in a microwave

Now let's move on to what is not at all suitable for the microwave and what you should never put in it:

  • Due to fire hazard, any object made of metal or containing metal should be kept away from the microwave. No spoons, no forks, no other metal utensils.
  • No aluminum foil in your microwave either. Aluminum being a poor metal, the previous advice remains valid.
  • You can't heat up cans or tins because they are made of metal. Place your food on a plate so you can heat it up safely.
  • Restaurant and fast food take-out trays are not microwave safe. When they When they heat up they release toxic chemicals that can end up in your food. As with canned goods, place your food on a plate before putting it in the microwave.
  • The grape, yes yes we are talking about the fruit, is dangerous when exposed to the waves of your microwave oven. The grapes ignite and explode. Real little bombs!
  • Pressure builds up under the shell of an egg and it can burst if heated in the microwave. Instead, use your gas stove or griddle to cook and heat eggs.
  • Dry and/or fibrous objects and foods (sponges, wipes...) tend to catch fire. Think about this before putting them in the microwave.

Special case: plastic

Before concluding this article, it is important to talk about plastic and its special relationship with the microwave:

The general rule of thumb is to not put any plastic in your microwave. No yogurt pots, no butter trays, no plastic molds or trays. The reason being that, depending on the composition of the plastic, certain toxic chemical elements (bisphenol A for example) can be released under the effect of the waves and end up directly in the food you are going to eat.

The only exception to this rule is the indication of the manufacturer. That is, the presence of the microwave logo or the mention "Microwave-Safe" on the plastic object.

Video: Is the microwave dangerous for your health?

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