Microwaves are popular kitchen appliances mainly used for reheating food and baking. In modern times, these have gained immense popularity. Although this has increased the use of this essential appliance, people still do not properly know what to microwave and what not to. One of the common questions that many people ask is, ‘can you microwave Styrofoam?’. This is a question that’s asked frequently, which is why we must address this problem.
But before going further into this topic, we must at first know what Styrofoam is. Let’s get straight into it.
What Is Styrofoam?
Styrofoam is a petroleum-based plastic product, mainly known for being lightweight and cheap. Being made primarily from air (98%), these plastics are incredibly light and viable for mass production. Today, Styrofoam is used in many food products ranging from tea cups to food containers, plates and even packaging!
The Two Types Of Styrofoam
There are two main types of Styrofoam that are used daily. The first one is the conventional Styrofoam, which are the products made from polystyrene. Polystyrene is made from styrene and benzene, which are poisonous chemical compounds. Recent studies have proven high levels of carcinogenic chemicals which cause cancer. In simpler terms, you won’t want to intake these chemicals into your body!
The second variation of Styrofoam has the same chemical structure as the conventional Styrofoam, but are made from safer materials that are technically not harmful to the human body. It is claimed to be BPA free, which means that it is more reliable than the conventional Styrofoam. The only downside to this version is its cost – they’re double the cost than the traditional ones!
Can You Microwave Styrofoam?
Up until now, we’ve gone through what Styrofoam is and the two different types of Styrofoam. Without further ado, let’s now get straight into our point of discussion – ‘Can you put Styrofoam in the microwave?’. Let’s find out!
Styrofoam is a harmful substance – it contains poisonous chemicals that may potentially harm your body. Regardless of the toxicity of Styrofoam, some Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers can be safely microwaved. But before you do, you must:
- Check the label to know if it’s microwave-safe
- Ensure that these are organic compounds
- Are heat-resistant (do not melt)
This means that not all Styrofoam is harmful if microwaved. But, what for specific uses of Styrofoam? Can you microwave Styrofoam cups? What about plates and other Styrofoam objects? Let’s dig deeper into it.
Styrofoam cups and noodle bowls are generally designed to be microwave safe. This is mainly because the manufacturers know that these cups are to withstand extreme heat, which is why they need to make sure that the cups do not melt. So, can you microwave Styrofoam cups? You sure can, but it is recommended that you look up into the label to get a better understanding of the chemical constituents.
Take Out Boxes
The Styrofoam take out boxes are, too, generally microwave safe. The take out boxes are designed to withstand immense heat, so you’ll not have to worry about the boxes melting away in the microwave. In most cases, these boxes are BPA free, which signifies that you’ll not be dealing with harmful chemicals.
As for Styrofoam bowls, it is advised that you don’t try to microwave the plastic bowls. This is mainly because the Styrofoam bowls are designed to be one-time used and are not supposed to withstand the immense heat in the microwave. This means that there’s a high chance of the Styrofoam melting away and mixing with your food. If you’re to microwave the Styrofoam, you should at first look at the label in which the Styrofoam bowls come in.
The Styrofoam throwable plates are very cheap but sturdy plates, which explains the immense popularity that these plates have gained. So, can you microwave Styrofoam plates? It’s advised that you don’t microwave the plates. These plastic containers are designed to be throwable, meaning these are not supposed to be microwaved. This is why you should avoid microwaving the Styrofoam plates.
When thinking about putting Styrofoam into the microwave, there are certain things you must keep in mind. Let’s see what Harvard Health Publishing has to say about these:
- Never microwave your food with the plastic wraps onto the food. This might cause the plastic wraps to melt.
- Most takeout bowls and containers are made to hold soft food materials such as margarine, yogurt, mayonnaise, meaning that most takeout containers are not microwave safe.
- Takeout plates and dinner trays are made especially for one-time use, meaning that these are not safe to microwave.
- Old, cracked or scratched out Styrofoam containers have an increased chance of leaching out plasticizers and other harmful chemicals.
- Never microwave plastic bags or polythene bags; these might melt in the heat
- Be sure to vent the Styrofoam container before microwaving. To do this, you can leave the lid ajar or remove it altogether.
Styrofoam has gained massive popularity in the modern times. These are cheap and very lightweight, which has been the prime reason of its popularity. You can take them anywhere and anytime, which makes them ideal competitor for the conventional bowls (although they are not long-lasting!). But the real question remains, ‘can you microwave Styrofoam?’
The answer to this question is quite obvious. It is recommended that you don’t microwave them mainly because of the chemicals used into making the Styrofoam. Once heated, many Styrofoam takeout containers, cups and plates may melt and mix with your food, which can cause inevitable damage to your health. Although there are some Styrofoam that are made from organic materials and are designed to be microwaved, it is advised that you don’t microwave Styrofoam.