Home > Insights > Lifestyle Insights > Safety Insights > Articles

Danger in the Microwave?

Reading Time:

Are you putting things in the microwave that could be dangerous? Most of us use microwaves frequently because they cook and reheat food quickly. Since its introduction to homes in the late 1960s, microwaves have become a staple in most U.S. homes and are used for everything from heating up leftovers, making oatmeal for breakfast and even making popcorn and disinfecting a wet kitchen sponge. Microwave ovens seem to be the solution for everything! But are they?

Most of us know not to put anything metal in a microwave, but some containers and dishes may have metal parts that get forgotten. It’s easy to forget metallic trim on plates, aluminum foil and Chinese take-out containers that have those metal handles. Double check your containers for metal parts so you don’t see sparks fly.

According to Harvard Health, heating plastics in the microwave may cause chemicals to leach into your foods. Although some plastics can be deemed microwave-safe by the Food and Drug Administration, that does not guarantee safety. Besides the damage to your health, plastic containers can become etched and discolored if they are used to reheat food in the microwave, and some can melt and become damaged. Do not put plastic bags, plastic bottles, yogurt cups, butter containers and other one-time use plastics in the microwave. You should also avoid putting Styrofoam in the microwave because it may release harmful chemicals as well as have a risk of melting.

The best thing to do when reheating foods in the microwave that are in plastic or Styrofoam containers is to take the food out of the container and put it on a plate or other microwave-safe glass dish before reheating.

Other Items
Fabric and sponges can catch on fire in the microwave if they are dry. Make sure those types of items are wet before putting them in the microwave. If you’re tempted to put brown lunch bags in the microwave, better think twice—they also have a high risk of catching on fire. Last but not least, starting the microwave with nothing in it at all could cause the microwave itself to catch on fire.

Along with the above items, here are a few food items to watch out for when you're microwaving:

  • Don’t try to “hard boil” and eggs in the microwave. The egg and the microwave will both explode.
  • Dry herbs will catch on fire. (Who knew?!)
  • Hot peppers will catch on fire and release harmful chemical vapors that could burn your eyes.
  • Grapes and raisins will explode, catch on fire and release harmful chemicals.

Now that you have been informed, happy microwaving!

You Might Also Like: