Can You Microwave Paper Plates? Is it Safe?
What is the best part of taking paper plates to the picnic? For me, using paper plates means not having to wash the dishes later. You can use paper plates not only for a picnic but also at home. Especially for a lazy bird like me, they are a total lifesaver. Once you have put the chicken on the paper plates, the rest is to heat it up. You are about to open the microwave and a sudden question comes to your mind: can you microwave paper plates?
A lot of people must be asking the same question to themselves because there is usually no sign showing it. In this article, we will be answering these questions and make sure that you have no question marks left in your mind.
What is a Paper Plate Made of?
As befits the name, the main ingredient of the paper plates is paper-based materials. When it comes to the inventor of this material, Martin Keyes must be the one we should be thankful for. If he didn’t think about the idea of providing better material to keep lunches on it, there wouldn’t be any paper plates now. At that time, Keyes used the wood pulp to make a paper plate. For today’s products, there are more disposable materials used for making paper plates.
Since Martin Keyes has invented the paper plates, there has been a lot of change in the appearance of the paper plates. They have become lighter and more colorful compared to the ones in the 1900s. Have you ever had a paper plate with designs on it? I used to have one of those with a flower design. But I have never tried to put them in the microwave, and I am very glad that I didn’t do that. Because what I will tell you next might come as a little surprise for you.
Can You Put Paper Plates in the Microwave?
If you are looking for a “yes” to this answer, you are right. There is no harm in putting paper plates in the microwave but… Well, there is a “but” for your safety. When we consider the paper plate as a plain white paper plate, you don’t need to worry about it at all. You can put it safely in the microwave. Plain paper plates include useful wastes and paper scraps in their construction besides cellulose and some wood chemicals. There is no proof saying that these materials are not suitable for microwave use.
However, if you are using one of those printed paper plates just as I do, you need to be careful. Because paper plate designs are not permanent like porcelain china, the design might leach into your food when you heat up the microwave.
Can Paper Plates Make a Fire?
When you see the word “paper”, you can easily associate it with fire. While there are some types of paper that can easily burn, there are non-combustible ones too. Paper plates are an example of microwave-oven paper materials while coffee bags are not. Even if you have a plain white paper plate, please make sure that it is not too thin.
Even for a thin white paper plate, there is a risk of melting and combustion when it is exposed to too much heat for a long time. That is why paper plates with medium thickness are always the best ones to use. Besides, it is better to make sure that you use paper plates only for reheating your food. So long as they don’t include any prints, there won’t be any health risks as well.
You should, of course, use glass containers to reheat your food. If you do not want to use anything, you can always use roaster ovens. We have gone over 10 roaster ovens in our best roaster oven reviews article. If you want more details in-depth, you can also check our oster roaster oven review.
To Make Sure if Your Paper Plate is Microwave-safe
After a long day, you have finished your shopping and came back home. While you want to reheat some chicken, the paper plates take your interest. But, you are not sure if they are microwave-safe. Here is your guide to confirm your plate’s safeness:
- Take a cup and fill it with water.
- Put that cup in the microwave along with a paper plate.
- Let the plate wait a minute or two in the microwave.
- Take out the plate and the cup and check their situation.
There are two possible outcomes for this scenario:
- If the water in the cup is warm and the paper plate is cold, that place is suitable for microwave use.
- If the water in the cup is cold but the paper plate is warm, you need to reconsider using that plate.
How About Other Paper Products and Plates?
Since we have talked about paper plates, it could be helpful for our readers to know about other products as well. While reheating your food in the oven, you need to think of your health. Otherwise, there might be a fire breakout or you might get poisoned from your food. Here are some reviews on other kinds of paper products or plates to see if they can be used in the microwave.
- Paper Towel: Because it doesn’t contain any humidity, paper towels are suitable for use in the microwave. You can cover your spaghetti so that it won’t splatter around your microwave. Also, its spongy surface makes it easier for the steam to get through the food.
- Newspaper: As a non-sanitary product, using a newspaper might spoil your dinner. The texture of the newspaper causes the emission of toxic fumes to its surrounding.
- Brown Paper Bag: Like the newspaper, there is a risk of toxic fume emission when you use a brown paper bag. Besides, it cannot handle too much heat and it can easily burn.
- Ceramic plates: Ceramics are microwave-safe products. However, you may need to check the place of the manufacture for your safety. When you see the label “made in China”, slowly leave the plate and run away. Because the plate might crack when you expose it to the heat of the microwave.
Some Tips For Reheating Your Food
- Do not put colorful designed paper plates to reheat your food.
- Put enough food inside your plate so that it won’t get smashed.
- If necessary, use two paper plates to reheat your food.
- For reheating foods like spaghetti and noodles, please make sure to cover them with a paper towel.
- Make sure that you have removed any kind of plastic from the paper plate before reheating.
For more than 100 years, paper plates have had an important place in our lives. From picnics to daily usage, they gave a hand to those who don’t want to deal with the cleaning after dinner. If you have those paper plates only to put food inside, you can be as free as a bird while choosing the type of plate you want. But, if you have an intention of putting that plate in the microwave, you need to sacrifice your taste for your health. Otherwise, you might enjoy your dinner inked with the colors of the paper plate. Besides, please use your paper plate only if you want to reheat your food.
For the best experience, we suggest you use white plain paper plates for reheating. When you follow our suggestions, you can be sure to make use of your paper plates in the best way. Please feel free to comment and share your ideas about the article in the comments.
This is Merve from the JarKitchen Team. I am a freelance content specialist, and I like cooking different recipes in my free time. During the pandemic, I have had plenty of time to practice my cooking skills and cooking turned out to be a hobby for me. Thanks to my exchange experience in Japan, I have learned more about Japanese culture and I have devoted my free time to cook Japanese dishes like sushi, onigiri.