Can Styrofoam Go in the Microwave?

What Can and Can’t Go in Your Microwave

Most of us are familiar with the basics of what not to put in the microwave – no metal, and nothing with electronics. But it’s still common to wonder about items in your home and whether they’re microwave safe. And, out of an abundance of caution for your hands, be careful removing containers that are microwave safe. Just because something can go into the microwave does not mean it won’t come out piping hot and unsafe to touch.

Things You Cannot Microwave

Not everything can or should go into the microwave for a couple of reasons. One is called leaching. Leaching occurs when you have food in a dish that you’re microwaving, and the food warms the dish up, causing chemicals to leach into your food from the dish.

Another reason for cautious microwaving is that you can quickly cause sparks and even fires by placing the wrong items within. Not only will that ruin your appliance, but it’s incredibly dangerous for your home and family. Kitchen fires are the number one cause of house fires, resulting in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and billions in property damage costs.

With that in mind, you should not ever microwave:

  • Aluminum Foil – Metal of any kind is an absolute no for microwaves. This is because of the design of the appliance; microwaves reflect ‘microwaves’ around the box to heat up food. But metal also reflects heat, which then creates a dangerous situation.
  • Breast Milk – Milk can heat unevenly in the microwave, causing some spots to be hotter than others, which makes it difficult to trust that your milk won’t burn the baby’s mouth.
  • China – Anything valuable like China should be kept out of the microwave, especially if it has any metallic paint delicately decorating it.
  • Eggs in-Shell – You’ve probably seen the mug egg breakfasts that took the internet by storm a while back, and that’s not unsafe. When it comes to eggs, they shouldn’t go in the microwave while still in their shell. This is because as the egg heats up, steam forms within and has nowhere to go, so it explodes.
  • Frozen Meat – Similarly to breast milk, frozen meat can heat unevenly, causing some areas to potentially overcook while others remain raw.
  • Paper Bags – The only exception is paper that’s designed for microwaves, such as popcorn bags. Otherwise, you’re risking the release of toxins from the paper, and fire if those toxins leaching into your food become too hot.
  • Processed Meat – In comparison to other cooking methods with processed meats, microwaves can cause them to release cholesterol oxidation products (COPs), which are linked to developing coronary heart disease. These are best left to the stovetop or oven for cooking.
  • Spicy Peppers – You’ll end up with a DIY pepper spray project if you place spicy peppers in the microwave. As they heat, they release capsaicin (the ingredient that makes them hot), which vaporizes into the air. Plus, they withhold steam like eggs do, which can cause an explosion of spiciness.
  • Squeeze Containers – Anything from those old-school ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles to your favorite jar of honey can melt or explode in the microwave, making them best left out.
  • Styrofoam – People take risks with Styrofoam, testing the limits when coffee cools down or leftovers need reheating. But Styrofoam is a type of soft plastic, which can melt and release chemicals into your food.
  • Whole Fruits – If you’re sensing a theme with the eggs and the peppers, you’re good. Anything sealed and whole like this is at risk of explosion from the heat, making it a smart idea to avoid placing them in the microwave.
  • Nothing – Unless you’re looking for a reason to buy a new microwave, don’t start it without anything in it. Running it with no food to heat can damage it beyond repair and even start a fire.
  • When you’re done with your containers, are you loading them into the dishwasher for the best clean?

Things You Can Microwave (And Should Try Out!)

We focus on the things you shouldn’t zap with the microwave because most things are OK to go in the appliance. But there are some meals that turn out great without needing an oven, air fryer, crockpot, or anything else. Be sure to monitor your food, checking it frequently as it cooks to avoid burning or overcooking.

  • Baked Potatoes – Grab a fork and poke a few holes in the potato(es), pop them into a bowl of water, and microwave.
  • Steamed Veggies – It’s so easy, you’ll probably start incorporating vegetables into more meals. Place your veggies into a bowl with some water, cover, and microwave for a few minutes.
  • Poached Eggs – There are several easy ways to cook eggs (not in their shells) in the microwave. You can get a little fancier by cracking an egg into a mug, filling it at least halfway with water, adding a tablespoon of vinegar, and covering the mug with a plate before cooking for one minute.
  • Noodles – Whether it’s your cup of Ramen or your favorite style of pasta, add the noodles into a bowl and cover with about two inches of water. Add any seasonings you’d like and microwave. Place your bowl on top of a plate in the microwave to catch any water that might spill over.

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