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A Quick Guide to Microwave-Safe Plastics

Posted by Marc Allen Tan on Jul 15th 2021

Microwave-safe plastics do exist however some caveats are needed to be considered before buying said plastics. Terms and properties like BPA-free and microwave safe sound very daunting since they come as very scientific and also very harmful if not followed. Microwaving the wrong plastics can lead to a lot of problems like BPA leaks, chemical tearing that makes the plastic unrecyclable and debilitating illnesses.

An important key factor in plastics is that they are made up of chemicals that can easily affect a person and can leave long-lasting effects. Also, add in the fact that there are different kinds of plastics to remember, and a wrong choice can highly impact the person’s life and his microwave. Hence, it’s important to check and follow some of the guidelines when it comes to microwave-safe plastic and microwave-safe containers.

What makes microwaving plastics bad?

It starts with the fact that plastic food containers may contain some particular chemicals that can disrupt a person’s body functions. These chemicals are called BPA and phthalates, they are known to disrupt endocrines and hormones that can create irreversible effects on estrogen and testosterone levels. These hormones are big factors in terms of the reproductive system and metabolism.

BPA is one of the chemicals that are used in plastics that causes hormonal imbalance in people. The chemical makes the body create more hormones that can cause cancer. BPA is also known to increase insulin reproduction that slows down sugar and fat breakdown leading to a faster pace towards obesity. These 2 health problems are part of the biggest health issues in the USA.

Plastics that have BPA may not instantaneously contaminate food, but heating them in a microwave will increase the cause of this problem. Since heat breaks down the plastic’s structure forming a semi-liquid state that can easily seep into food.

Is it possible to create plastics without BPA? Yes, some plastics are BPA-free. They are known to be more consumer-friendly and food grade. However, once the BPA-free plastic gets dissolved from the microwave’s heat, it can also cause stomach problems since BPA-free plastics are not biodegradable and can cause problems to the stomach lining.

To make it simple, always check if the plastic container is BPA-free, and learn the temperature limit of the plastic.

Which plastics are microwave safe?

According to epackasupply’s plastic guide, there are at least 5 types of plastics. These plastics have different properties and temperature limits. To know more about the different kinds of plastics head over to that page, but for a quick read on which plastics are microwave safe, then continue reading this article.

One of the fastest ways to know if plastic is microwave safe is to check if there is a microwave sign or image at the bottom of the container. But if there is none, refer to the plastic numbers.

Plastic #2

Plastic # 2 is microwave safe. It is also known as HDPE or high-density polyethylene which is primarily used in potable liquids or drinks. This plastic is commonly seen in milk and juice jugs. It has a heat limit of –40 to 266 Fahrenheit before it melts. It also has a lot of advantages that make it perfect for storing liquids.

HDPE is extremely rugged and durable which is perfect for storing drinks. It’s also great for reuse since the plastic isn’t delicate so it won’t tear off or contaminate the food. It’s also good to remember that food containers have different recycling laws depending on the state.

Plastic #5

Plastic #5 is also microwave safe. Its full name is polypropylene and it’s commonly used as food containers, spoons, and forks. It has a melting point of 0 to 250 degrees, which is why this is perfect for those microwave meals.

Which plastics are not microwave safe?

Plastic #6

Plastic #6 is not microwave safe. It’s also called polystyrene which is the basic component of styrofoam. Styrofoam has a very low melting point, this means that even without heating this plastic in the microwave, it can easily melt. It’s also good to note that styrofoam is banned in some states because of its non-microwaveable nature.

Styrofoam is also a major plastic problem since it’s one of the most popular take-outcontainers.

Plastic#1

Plastic #1 is not microwave safe. This plastic is called Polyethylene Terephthalate, and it has a melting point of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This plastic is mostly used in single-use food containers such as burger containers and fruits. They are usually packed with food that shouldn’t be microwaveable.

Are There Other Containers that shouldn’t be microwaved?

Several containers shouldn’t be microwaved. These materials are susceptible to breaking the actual microwave or burning inside the microwave. One of the important factors in terms of microwavable materials is how it easily conducts heat and electricity.

A great example is aluminum. Aluminum containers are great for take-out or quick meals but it’s not good for microwaves since aluminum heats up around 400 degrees that can destroy the microwave on prolonged contact. It also conducts electricity meaning that it can short circuit the microwave.

Paper containers are also not microwave safe since paper does not handle heat properly because it easily burns or breaks after it reaches a certain heat range. Having these kinds of materials can hurt the microwave and also the user, so it’s best to not use these materials in microwaves.

Safety should be everyone’s top priority

It’s important to know if something is microwave safe since it can prevent sickness, injury, and death. Since microwaves are an important part of the kitchen and our everyday lives, the proper items must be used along with them.

A good ending note for this is that plastics have certain temperature limits. Even if they are labeled BPA-free and microwave safe, once they reach the temperature limit, they must be thrown away to be recycled and not used.

Check out the Plastics 101 guide article to know more about plastics and to know more about ePackageSupply’s clear containers, head over to this page.