Styrofoam continues to be a common disposal container for packing and delivering food and beverage. Due to their reusable nature, many of us use them to store or serve our leftover foods. So, can you microwave Styrofoam with food?
The answer is yes. However, standard Styrofoam is not 100% microwave safe. But, depending on your microwave’s power level and material design, it can be safe to microwave Styrofoam for 30 seconds.
A microwave is amongst the most convenient and reliable kitchen appliances. Many people prefer it to heat and reheat foods as it is faster than traditional methods. And as culinary experts, we all understand that not all materials are microwave friendly.
Most people tend to ask if it is suitable to microwave Styrofoam. So, you’re not alone. We’ll discuss the best safety practices for microwaving Styrofoam.
Also Read: Can You Microwave Ziploc Containers?
Table of Contents
Can You Really Microwave Styrofoam?
What is Styrofoam?
Styrofoam is an official trademark of Dow Chemical Company. Technically, it comprises mainly polystyrene foam, a standard construction material. The foam’s flexible insulation properties make Styrofoam ideal for use in the food and beverage industry.
Uses of Styrofoam
Here are the popular uses of Styrofoam:
- Storage of food and drinks in the food industry
- Packing peanuts
- Serve as take away containers for restaurants
- Insulating in the construction industry
- Crafting and decorative projects
Styrofoam is very popular and boasts many uses. That’s because Styrofoam is incredibly lightweight as its composition is about 95% air. It’s also affordable and pretty durable.
Plus, it’s pretty insulating, meaning that it helps keep foods and beverages hot. You’ll find Styrofoam containers easy to clean.
Also Read: Can You Put Aluminium Foil in a Microwave?
Can You Put Styrofoam In The Microwave?
Styrofoam containers are excellent options for keeping foods cold or hot. They tend to retain their original shape and protect the contents inside.
It can also help store your lunch or dinner leftovers. What if the food gets cold? Can you put it in the microwave? The most straightforward answer is Styrofoam can go in the microwave to reheat foods or drinks.
Before doing so, it is critical to understand what type of foam container you’re dealing with. These containers have different degrees of melting or getting damaged when exposed to different temperatures.
The two common types of Styrofoam containers are as follows:
1. Traditional Styrofoam
Under normal circumstances, the Styrofoam composition stays stable. If you expose it to high temperatures, the polystyrene material starts to melt and break up.
As a result, toxic chemicals in the material may leach and mix with your food. These toxins may be carcinogenic at greater levels, exposing your health and reproductive system to cancer risks.
Therefore, you should avoid putting traditional Styrofoam in a microwave with high temperatures.
2. Microwave-Safe Styrofoam
A great alternative foam to traditional Styrofoam. Its construction mainly comprises safer materials with less hazardous chemical compounds. You’ll find it exceptionally stable and won’t quickly melt down at higher temperatures.
But, how do you know this Styrofoam type is safe to put in the microwave? Well, look for the microwave-safe label on the container or package.
Do you wonder whether to put Styrofoam in the microwave or not? Here’s the thing. A typical Styrofoam container or package must have a microwave-safe label.
If the label is missing, consider choosing an alternative reheating method. After removing the Styrofoam container from the microwave, check for any noticeable signs of damage.
In case you see any signs, discard the container and its food contents.
Can Styrofoam Be Microwaved?
Yes. However, Styrofoam containers can easily melt and break down, contaminating your food with hazardous chemicals. That’s if you don’t get the correct type of foam.
For your safety, only use Styrofoam containers that have a microwave-safe label.
Is It Safe To Microwave Food In Styrofoam?
Yes and no. It depends on the type of styrofoam you use (Traditional vs New version). If you are using a traditional Styrofoam, the answer would be no! Studies show that these regular containers can melt and release harmful toxic chemicals like styrene and benzene.
These toxins can cause damaging risks to your health, reproductive system and possibly result in cancer.
As for microwave-safe Styrofoam, it comes as a newer version. This means that it’s not much like the traditional option. You’ll find it with relatively safe materials made to withstand heat pretty well and effectively.
But for the most part, it’s safe. Even if your cup noodle container, plates, or coffee cups are of this kind, then it’s safe to use in the microwave.
Just remember to use medium power that should not exceed 30 seconds when heating or reheating food. That’s because it may have a hazardous effect.
Typically, Styrofoam has a plastic composition with foam. When it overheats, it can melt and release harmful chemicals, as discussed earlier.
And these substances may trigger various health conditions among humans. Such conditions may include vision problems, digestive issues, damage to the reproductive system, and even cause cancer symptoms.
Is It “Bad” To Put Styrofoam In The Microwave?
It’s not always bad to put Styrofoam in the microwave. It depends on the type of foam you’re dealing with. Some of these Styrofoam types are pretty worse than others. However, you must be very cautious.
As discussed above, we have two distinct types of Styrofoam containers out there. The traditional type is generally not safe to microwave.
That’s because they break down or melt at high temperatures. And in such a case, the harmful chemicals they have may leach into your food and cause your health problems.
With the microwave-safe type, you’ll find it ideal for use in a microwave. That’s because the container is stable and won’t melt unless the temperatures are incredibly high. So, make sure you look for the microwave-safe label on your containers.
Can You Microwave Styrofoam For 30 Seconds?
Even though it is not a good idea to microwave Styrofoam, you can do so sometimes. In such cases, you’ll want to put Styrofoam in the microwave to heat or reheat foods and beverages.
The first thing to do is confirm if your Styrofoam has a microwave-safe label. You’ll find some Styrofoam containers that are safe to microwave for 30 seconds and will have this indicated.
Such containers are ideal for heating or reheating drinks and foods. Microwave-proof Styrofoam containers have a unique design that prevents them from releasing harmful chemicals to maximum levels. They meet the FDA requirements, and you’ll find them labeled the same.
Besides that, some untreated foam containers can release toxins. That’s if you heat them at higher temperatures that reach 200-240 degrees Celsius. These toxins may pose a great health risk when they leach into your foods or drinks.
So, yes, if you can microwave Styrofoam for 30 seconds or less safely. But the best option is to use Styrofoam containers at medium power levels to avoid damage to the container.
Tips To Microwave Styrofoam For 30 Seconds
Even if you intend to microwave a Styrofoam container, it is vital to know some essential safety tips. Based on the information above, this container tends to release toxins if not well taken care of while reheating drinks and foods.
Below are some of the essential tips to have in mind when microwaving Styrofoam for 30 seconds:
- Check for the microwave-safe label to know whether the container is safe to microwave for 30 seconds or not.
- Don’t overheat the container for more than 30 seconds, as it can melt and cause poisoning.
- Choose a Styrofoam type that can withstand heat to reduce the release of toxins into your food.
- For guaranteed safety, make sure the Styrofoam has FDA certification.
- Ventilating the container can make microwaving safer though this may result in a mess.
How to Safely Heat Food in a Styrofoam
If you are wondering how to heat food in a Styrofoam container safely, below are our handy tips to help you:
- Use a microwave-safe container. In this case, make sure your Styrofoam container has a microwave-safe label.
- Place the food in a glass or ceramic dish before microwaving. If you find that the container doesn’t have the microwave-safe label, you can use a ceramic, Pyrex, or glass container to reheat your food.
- Use an oven or stove. This is another excellent way to avoid possible risks that Styrofoam containers may provide when they heat up. Simply transfer your food into a pan or pot and heat on a stove, or place it on a baking tray and heat using the oven.
- Inspect the container for any cracks or scratches. If your plastic or polystyrene container is old or has cracks or scratches, get rid of it. They can cause leakage of potentially toxic chemicals into your food.
- Before you heat the container, heat it. Doing so will help restrict the formation of pressure which may cause the food inside to explode.
- Remove the container with care. Use gloves when removing the container from the microwave to prevent burning your hands.
It is now clear that you can microwave Styrofoam. That should only occur for not more than 30 seconds.
From now, ensure that any foam you put in the microwave should be microwave-safe and bear FDA approval and certifications.
Focus on microwave-safe Styrofoam and never try to heat or reheat the traditional type.
Even when using regular Styrofoam, don’t overheat it. Consider opening the lid or make sure it has a tiny vent to release steam while cooking.