Ziploc bags are clear and thin plastics made up of polypropylene. They are best for storing food in the fridge or freezer because they are durable and airtight.
Other than storing, you may wonder if you can use Ziploc bag to defrost, reheat or even cook food in the microwave. Let’s debunk the myth with explicit directions provided by the manufacturer.
Can I microwave food in a Ziploc bag? Yes, however always check for microwave-safe symbol to identify if it capable of handling microwave heat.
The manufacturer recommends only microwaving Ziploc bags for reheating and defrosting food instead of cooking in them. With extreme high heat, the plastic may melt and leach harmful chemicals onto the food while microwaving.
These bags are easy to clean and use multiple time, however recycling is also allowed. Even though the material is not made out of recycled products, the components are high quality with durable element.
Ziploc bags are microwave safe since the manufacturer carries out extensive research on the line of products. It is essential to read the label package and apply the safety measures while heating your food in the microwave.
This article explains how to microwave food in a Ziploc bag, and the potential dangers associated with the procedure. Answered below are frequently asked questions about microwaving food in Ziploc bags and the risks you should be aware of.
What Happens If You Put a Plastic Bag in The Microwave?
Microwave appliances project heat waves that effectively cook, defrost and reheat food. When the electromagnetic waves reach the food, they fasten the vibration of water molecules inside the content that generate friction.
Eventually, the friction turns into energy that heats your food from the inside out. For instance, if you are microwaving drinks, they are likely to heat fast compared to solid food due to the high level of liquid molecules traveling extremely fast.
On the other hand, when you heat plastic bags, the structure weakens under high temperature, leaching potential harmful chemicals like dioxin and BPA into your food. After consuming the food, these chemicals are absorbed into your body where the may remain impermanently.
The polymer chemicals are dangerous, and may wreak havoc on your reproductive system and cause endocrine or neurological issues. Worst still, they can lead to cancer.
However, it would be best if you were not scared since dioxins are only emitted when the plastic is heated above 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. A conventional microwave can’t achieve this temperature, but steam energy transfers at a rate of 7 time that of direct heat, therefore steam meeting plastic Ziploc bags is the real concern.
Are Ziploc Bags Heat Safe?
To store food, Ziploc bags are the best innovations in the world. They are robust and convenient to use them correctly, and they won’t jeopardize your health.
Use the following tips when heating food in these Ziploc bags:
- Ziploc bags are only recommended for reheating and defrosting food, not for cooking food.
- If you are heating food using a Ziploc bag, handle it with care because the plastic might be burning or melting.
- Check the instructions on the package to know the level of heat the bag can withstand.
- Always look for an approved microwave-safe symbol or label before heating. The proper symbol indicates a picture with 3 or 5 wavy lines or the words microwave-safe inscribed somewhere on the packaging.
- Reduce the heating time in half by cutting the food into tiny pieces. The small bits will heat faster; this will help keep your Ziploc bag in good shape for an extended period of heating.
Follow Ziploc instructions keenly, even though their products are safe for reheating and defrosting, that doesn’t mean they are safe for cooking food.
Can I Cook in Ziploc Bags?
Even though Ziploc bags are safe for microwave use, you may notice that they can melt when overheated. Only microwave the Ziploc bag on medium heat for 30 seconds each time.
Cooking food in a plastic bag will require high temperatures that will melt the Ziploc bag. As a result, your food will become unsafe for consumption.
It’s recommended to use the Ziploc bag only for reheating and defrosting in the microwave, and never for cooking food. Avoid using a Ziploc bag when steaming vegetables in the microwave since the heat transfer rate of steam is relatively high compared to that of boiling water or direct heat.
Hence your Ziploc bag can burn or melt and make your vegetables unsafe to eat. Also, overheated bags can risk burning your hands and the steam will annihilate the Ziploc bag quickly.
Generally, it would be best if you did not use a Ziploc bag to heat any food beyond the temperature that the plastic can safely withstand. To avoid these situation, do not use high temperature and extended microwave time.
Each vegetable or food ingredient will react different, review your recipe beforehand to follow the correct direction. And remember, the manufacturer of Ziploc bags only recommended reheating and defrosting food as clearly directed on their packaging.
Is It Safe to Microwave Food in A Ziploc Bag?
Many people have raised concerns about using Ziploc bags to reheat food, unlike other plastics that leak chemicals into the food and distort the human body. In general, Ziploc bags are safe; they are dioxin and bpa-free.
They are manufactured under high quality and can withstand temperature up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. Household microwaves can’t reach temperatures up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, which keeps the food in a Ziploc bag safe when heated.
However, steam can easily build up when heating food in a Ziploc bag, causing it to burst or melt. Remember to leave the seal slightly open on your bag to let steam escape to avoid pressure and steam build-up on the inside.
If you are microwaving food in a Ziploc bag, ensure to place it on a microwave-safe plate to avoid from spilling. Also, don’t heat it above the softening temperature of the bag to avoiding melting.
When you are heating food like bacon and cheese with high fat and sugar levels, be more careful because they heat up very quickly to exceed the bags softening temperature. If you want to be safe from harmful bacteria, heat the food above 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius.
Microwaving Food in Ziploc Bags: Conclusion
If you have successfully used Ziploc bags to reheat or defrost frozen food in the microwave, it is easy to continue using the same methods. Ziploc bags are made of polypropylene, which doesn’t have toxic chemicals like dioxins or bpa.
They are manufacturer approved and can be use without worry. Despite Ziploc bags being safe for microwave use, the manufacturer has stated specific instructions on the label for reheating and defrosting purposes only.
Keep in mind that covered food warms up quickly since the closed environment accelerates the reheating and defrosting process by distributing the heat more evenly. The closed environment traps the heat and pressure internally without releasing the steam.
Therefore, one should be extremely careful when opening a sealed Ziploc bag due to a burst of steam from the reheated items.
Consequently, Ziploc bags can cause body harm and food damage if not used in the right way. Keep the following tips in mind when using Ziploc bags to heat food so that you avoid any harm or destroyed food nutrients.
Not all food reheats the same way, so consider checking the instructions on the bag to know the exact maximum temperatures it can withstand. The amount and type of food can affect the temperature and cooking time.
If uncertain, adjust the microwave to low or medium power setting and start with 15 to 30 second intervals to reach the desired temperature slowly.
Ensure to use Ziploc freezer bags for defrosting and Ziploc storage bags for reheating food for best result. To freeze vegetables or meat in the fridge, the freezer bag are airtight enough that will keep any unwanted moisture away to keep the food fresh when thawed.
On the other hand, storage bags have a higher tolerance to heat which makes it safe and easy to reheat food.
Avoid using plastic Ziploc bags made of polycarbonate or polyvinyl chloride plastic for heating food in the microwave. It is best practice to look for microwave-safe symbol to be sure.
Ziploc bags that are made with polypropylene, so avoid heating food beyond 195 degrees F or 90 degree Celsius. Its really not the hot food that is the concern, it is the steam that rises as the temperature increases.
When reheating food in the Ziploc bag, leave a tiny opening to allow steam to release from the bag since it is the steam that can quickly melt the Ziploc bag. Also, you don’t want the bag to explode by trapping pressure inside the packaging.
Try to avoid using Ziploc sandwich bags for reheating food. These specialty bags are good to keep the sandwich transportable, but are not capable to stand any microwave heat.
Ziploc bags are great to freeze, store, and also reheat or defrost food in the microwave safely. Always handle the Ziploc bag and food carefully; some foods, especially those with high sugar and fat content heat up much fast and to higher temperatures than water based foods.
With these precautions in mind, you can start using Ziploc bags safely. But if you are at all uncomfortable using Ziploc bags to microwave, consider using microwave safe containers made of glass or ceramic as a backup plan.