The microwave is one of the most common appliances in many households. It can prove to be handy in a variety of situations, especially when reheating leftovers. However, keep in mind that you cannot heat just anything in the microwave. Be armed with the right knowledge to be assured of your safety, and most importantly, of your health.
Can you microwave Styrofoam? If you have always been curious and if you want to know the answer, keep on reading and we will share some valuable insights with you. Aside from knowing whether you can do it or not, you will also know some tips to safely use microwave when reheating anything.
Can You Microwave Styrofoam?
No – this is the simple and straightforward answer to your question. Keep in mind that it is a form of plastic and it has chemicals. The heat in the microwave can be detrimental and when you eat the food that has been heated along with the Styrofoam, your health can be possibly put at risk.
Technically, there are two types of Styrofoam, but the one that is known to most of us is made from polystyrene. The latter is a plastic that is made from petroleum-based material. It has 95% air and can also be a great option for insulation. It is commonly used in food packaging, such as cup noodles, as well as for take-aways.
When Styrofoam is heated, it will melt. This melting, however, is not a result of the direct heat from the microwave, but from the heat of its contents. This can cause the toxic chemicals to get in contact with food, and in turn, this will harm your health.
Is It Dangerous to Microwave Styrofoam?
When you heat Styrofoam in the microwave, the first thing that you will notice is that it will melt and its shape will change. However, take note that there is a more serious concern beyond its aesthetics. This can be a health risk, which is why it is important that you never attempt to microwave any food that is kept in Styrofoam.
Styrene is a chemical that is found in Styrofoam. It is toxic, which is exactly the reason why such should not be in contact with heat. According to the National Toxicology Program, it can be a carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer revealed the same thing.
Exposure to toxic chemicals that result from microwaving Styrofoam can lead to a number of health problems. Some of the most common include skin and eye irritation, gastrointestinal disorders, headache, clinical depression, hearing loss, stomach upset, and problems with the nervous system, among others.
What Products are Commonly Microwaved in Styrofoam?
Instant noodles are on the top of the list. There are some that are packaged in Styrofoam. Although they may feel hard, they are still made from plastic, which is why they should not be microwaved. Always refer to the instructions to be sure of how it can be heated properly.
A lot of us also heat coffee cups that are made from Styrofoam. This is one thing that you have to stop doing by now. The coffee won’t be that very hot, aside from the risk of being contaminated by toxic chemicals.
Disposable plates and take-away packages are also commonly heated in the microwave. Again, you should refrain from doing this. Paper plates can be better alternatives, although such is not recommended if you are reheating greasy food.
How To Microwave Food
If you have been used to microwaving Styrofoam in the past, it is not too late to change such habit. You can consider other alternatives, which are known to be safer.
If you are reheating leftovers from a fancy dinner the night before, it would be better to take time to transfer it in a microwavable plate. This is not only safe, but will also make sure that the heat will be distributed evenly.
You can also use glass if you want to microwave your drink. This will make the water hot, but the good thing is that there is no risk that the chemicals will melt and will get in contact with liquid.
For some people, they might resort into the use of an aluminum foil instead. However, this is another ting that should never be done. It has thin pieces that can quickly heat up and this can be a reason for fire to start.
Others may use a brown bag instead of a Styrofoam. Again, this should not be done at all times. It can lead to the emission of toxic fumes and can also be a risk of fire. The same thing is true in the case of using metal containers.
Here is a short video hat will show you more on how you can use the microwave properly when reheating leftovers:
Is There An Exception?
Yes, there is. It should be noted that Styrofoam can be classified into two types. The one is non-microwaveable and the other is microwaveable. You have to pay attention to the label and instructions from the manufacturer.
But, if I were you, to play safe, I will not put any Styrofoam in the microwave. Do not risk it. You only have to spare little time and effort to transfer the contents in a microwaveable container and have peace of mind, knowing that there are no chemicals that will melt.
Now that you have reached the end of this post, below is a quick recap of the things that have been mentioned above:
- Generally speaking, you cannot microwave Styrofoam. It is made from plastic and has 95% air. The heat will make it melt.
- More than changing aesthetics, microwaving Styrofoam is not recommended because it can contaminate food. It is a source of toxic chemicals that can harm your health in more ways than one.
- Before microwaving, transfer it in a plate or any container that is microwave-safe.