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Can You Put Stainless Steel In Microwave?

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Have you ever wondered if it is possible to put stainless steel bowls, cups or utensils in the microwave? From reheating to cooking and defrosting, microwave is the ultimate kitchen tool to save time in meal prepping. 

However, it can be tricky to determine microwave safe symbols on uncertain materials. Though the bottom of a container may indicated safety measures, you may notice lightening spark due to metal content of the dish.

Can you put stainless steel in the microwave? It is not safe to put stainless steel in the microwave because metal is not always microwave safe. During the heating process, stainless steel reflects the microwaves instead of absorbing them, which results in sparks and potential fire hazard.

Not only is it dangerous to microwave food in stainless steel, but also can alter the taste and texture of food. Furthermore, an ignition may burn the food and make it unrecoverable.

Whether you are cooking or simply heating up leftover foods, we are going to talk about the potential hazard of putting stainless steel in a microwave. Answered below are frequently asked questions about what precautions need to be taken with stainless steel and microwave ovens. 

Can stainless steel go in the microwave?

No, it is not recommended to put stainless steel in the microwave. Stainless steel will not only block the heat from microwaving the food, but also damages your microwave and may cause a portal fire.

Microwave is perfect to reheat cold coffee in the office or at home. Freshly brewed coffee can maintain its heat by storing in a styrofoam cup or tumbler, but it will loss heat quickly in a mug. 

Unconsciously, we may not realize those travel cups made of stainless steel definitely do not belong in the microwave. 

What happens if you put stainless steel in a microwave?

In order to understand the reason why it is not recommended to put stainless steel in the microwave, start by learning what actually happens when you put stainless steel cups, utensils or bowls in the appliance.

In general, microwave works by exciting water molecules in food that cause friction and generate heat. As a result, heat does not absorb into plastic, ceramic, metal or glass materials because it is not a form of heat through direct contact.

When the stainless steel is heated in the microwave, it reflects the microwaves. The metal consist of electrons that get pulled by the microwaves which causes a thin sheet of metal to heat up so quickly that can burn the appliance and potentially start a fire.

What kind of metal can you put in a microwave?

This does not mean that all metals are incapable of usage in a microwave. For instance, you can microwave materials like aluminum foil safely in small quantities.

 Any thin piece of aluminum, tin or steel that lays flat in the microwave and does not touch any internal sides of the appliance actually prevent any interference with the microwave. 

However, always keep an eye on aluminum foil while microwaving it and do not heat up for longer periods of time. 

Does stainless steel explode in microwave?

Yes and no, not all stainless steel will explode in microwave. Any round metal objects such as spoon, fork, coin won’t explode in the microwave, however a twist tie, nail or china with metal trim can explode in microwave.

Ironically, larger metal objects are less explosive than the small ones. 

Since the wattage and power of microwave is different based on the brand, manufacturer and model, we highly recommend to avoid putting utensils such as forks, spoons, or knives in the microwave. 

These metal objects damage not only your food, but potentially the microwave oven as well. 

Is 304 stainless steel microwave safe?

No, 304 stainless steel is not microwave safe. In fact, the grade 304 stainless steel is the most common material that contains both chromium and nickel metals, which is widely used in utensils, and food handling and processing equipment.

It is widely used for its high heat-resistant properties and good corrosion resistance, however it cannot be used in the microwave. 304 stainless steel is great for preparing, storing, and dining purposes instead of reheating, cooking, or defrosting food in the microwave. 

Things to know about microwaving stainless steel

Microwave makes meal prepping quick and easy from reheating to defrosting. Based on our experience, it is best not to microwave stainless steel for safety reasons as the material is not microwave safe.

To understand in more depth, there are things you need to know about microwaving stainless steel:

  • Various shapes of stainless steel react differently in the microwave. Objects with sharp edges and corners such as forks typically spark when microwaved because it triggers the charged particles to move to the edges of the fork that create sparking. 
  • Any dishes with metallic trim is advised not to put in the microwave. These metallic trims will overheat under the microwaves and form an electric arc that will destroy the dish and microwave oven.
  • Do not leave a stainless steel spoon in the bowl filled with food to heat more than 30 seconds. Consider keeping the metal spoon in the microwave short and do not overcook to prevent from sparking.
  • Avoid putting stainless steel objects too close to the walls of the microwave. It can cause sparking and start a fire in the appliance.
  • When using aluminum foil in microwave, do not wrinkle foil, instead lay flat and round the edges with no point or sharp angles that could form a spark.
can you put microwave stainless steel in the microwave

Putting Stainless Steel in Microwave: Final Thoughts

Microwaving stainless steel is not advisable. Whether it is cup, bowl, thermal mug, spoon, fork, or knife, it is not safe to microwave with them. 

While defrosting, cooking, or reheating in the microwave, metal reflects the microwaves instead of absorbing them. As a result, dangerous situations can arise that cause fire or dangerous sparking. 

Be aware that with correct usage, aluminum foil can be microwaved without causing a problem, but it is not the same for stainless steel. For less than 30 seconds, a round shape of stainless steel may prevent from exploding in the microwave, however this is not recommended. 

Definitely avoid using 304 graded stainless in the microwave. These are only for food storing and handling purposed, and not for cooking. 

Whether you are reheating cold coffee or need to stir soup while microwaving, make sure to use microwave safe dish and utensils to get the safest results. Microwaving is safe, but it does not always have a good relationship with all types of material.

Steve Jobs

Monday 26th of December 2022

hi i love this article! It is really helpful for microwaving stainless steel, thanks