MIcrowaves have wide use and could be found literally everywhere, at your home, workplace, schools, school kitchens, you name it. However, not all materials are safe for microwave heating. Some of them may melt and spoil the oven and your food, the others can let toxic matter in your food and cause life-threatening reactions.
Some of the already prepared meals that can be found at the markets have labels saying whether or not they are safe for being put in a microwave. Here are some of the materials which are safe to be used in microwave heating.
Be cautious with this one. Not all types of plastics are allowed into a microwave. Thinner and weaker ones are not safe for microwaves. If the tray or the dish is marked with “not microwave safe”, then it, obviously, should not be used in microwaves.
This is why label checking is extremely important, you do not want your microwave broken or yourself poisoned. It is not recommendable to heat the dry food in plastic containers because it may melt. Do not put the single-use plastic containers into a microwave like those used for yogurt, cheese, and margarine storing.
Also, it is not a good idea to use plastic-wrapped containers. If you are using the plastic wrap to cover your food, then you should make sure that the wrap does not touch the food and leave some places open for the steam to escape, otherwise, you can steam burn and it can be quite serious.
Styrofoam is actually safe, although there are some exceptions. Styrofoam can be used for microwave heating for pure liquids like tea, coffee, or water. Do not heat it after it boils. It is important to point out that it is not safe to heat items containing fats and solids like soups, Ramen noodles, etc.
Glass is almost always microwaving safe. If you get yourself a new piece of glassware and is not labeled as microwave safe then you should do the check before putting it in the oven. Usually, thicker and firmer glass dishes are more durable and better to be used in the kitchen.
So, you do not have to worry if the glass will explode if you keep on placing Pyrex into a microwave, because it is completely safe to put them into the oven and have your food cooked or heated. Additionally, thinner glass is not necessarily unsafe, but with the increased temperature of the beverage or food in the glass dish, some unsafe situations like glass breaking may occur.
You can microwave paper as long as it is the right kind of paper. Paper towels, parchment paper, paper plates, and bowls are allowed in the microwave and are completely safe for heating. However, the newspaper is not sanitary and the ink from the paper can get dissolved and mixed with your food.
Newspaper ink contains lead which is known to be extremely toxic for people causing serious stomach problems. Brown paper bags are not at all safe. They cannot withstand the heat so they can get into flames during the process. These bags may also emit toxic fumes and contain germs that can have your food spoiled.
When glazed with properly formulated glazes, all ceramics from stoneware to china are microwave safe. Beware of the dishes produced in China. China does not have a regulated industry and therefore the glazes used may contain heavy metals like lead or arsenic which can leach into the food and cause serious poisoning.
Another concern with the ceramic dishes is due to overheating. If you want to test your cup or mug, then fill a half cup with water and have it microwaved for 30 seconds. If the cup is warmer than the water inside, then do not microwave it.
Aluminum foil has restricted use in the microwave. It can be used for wrapping the ends of chicken or turkey or duck legs for them not to get overcooked. But, if the aluminum foil is crumpled, bent, or in small pieces is an absolute no for microwaving. In these cases, the foil will spark and arc, especially if it is too close to the ends of the microwave.
The materials explained are the ones mostly used in everyday kitchen life. The materials that are microwave-safe are efficient and practical for use, however every and each of them must be used with caution, that is why you should always search for the “microwave safe” dishes and pots.