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Can You Microwave Wooden Bowls?

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Wooden bowls are a longstanding craze in the kitchen. Not only do they look great and give a sleek and stylish appearance in any kitchen, but the best part is that they are completely natural.

Wooden bowls are often handmade and give an authentic farm style look to any setting. 

The uniqueness as a centerpiece added to its appeal, however proper care and handles is not commonly understood by everyone. 

Can you microwave wooden bowls? No, it is not safe to use of any kind of wood inside a microwave. Not only will the microwave damage the wood bowl, but it could potentially overheat and cause a fire. Ceramic and glass are the recommended microwave safe options.

This guide details the reasons why it is a bad idea to put wood in the microwave in order to avoid a possible fire and potential kitchen disaster.

We also included helpful tips for taking care of you wood bowls the right way to ensure that you have gorgeous centerpieces last as long as possible. 

Wooden Bowl Basics

Wooden bowls have been a longstanding decorative centerpiece, but are they safe to use for food? Let’s start with the basics, and work our way to the core of the issue, whether or not you can microwave wood bowls.

Are Wooden Bowls Safe to Eat Out Of?

As long as they are properly cared for, then most wood bowls are safe to eat out of. Otherwise, they are just a decorative art adorning a table and looking pretty.

Wooden bowls are not generally used for serving wet or liquid foods, but rather dry foods. Avoid thin soups, sauces, broths and dressings as the moisture will permeate the wood grains and cause swelling, cracking and splitting.

Is It Ok to Serve Hot Food in a Wooden Bowl? 

You can safely serve hot food in a properly maintained wood bowl. As long as the bowl is cared for and kept in good condition, then it is safe for holding and serving hot food.

That being said, we are not saying it’s a good idea to pour boiling hot water or liquid into a wood bowl, as this can cause permanent damage to the wood.

Is It Ok To Microwave Wood Bowls?

It is a common misunderstanding that if a container or dish is food-safe, that is can automatically be used in a microwave.

We are all familiar with the fact that you can’t microwave metal and you can’t microwave styrofoam

Additionally, it is important to recognize that microwaving paper cups, paper plates, and other eco-friendly disposable products is also not safe?

Therefore, all food grade materials are not guaranteed to be safe in the microwave; and wood fits right into this category. But why is that? Wooden utensils are commonly used for cooking, so why can’t we zap a wooden bowl in the microwave for a minute?

We will explore this thought a bit deeper in the coming sections where we have related questions that are right on topic. Stick with us as we dive into the answer to this question a bit more methodically and take each answer one at a time.

Why is it Not Safe to Put Wood in the Microwave?

The core of the issue is that a wooden bowl is not microwave safe. No matter if the bowl is food-safe or has a special finish, you cannot microwave it. 

Let’s break down the reasons why it’s not recommended, you ay be surprised to realize that there is more than one reason why.

Most noteworthy, a wooden bowl will get extremely hot when zapped in the microwave. You are probably familiar with heat from a microwave-safe container, but wooden bowls actually get much hotter.

In just a few seconds, a wood bowl will become extremely hot to touch, let alone hold and carry. Which leads to the next issue at hand, a safety hazard.

If you grab a hold of the hot bowl with a barehand, you may burn yourself. The natural reaction may be to drop the bowl and the contents could spill, splatter or even scald you.

It is fairly uncommon for wood to spark in the microwave, but it could be possible if left unattended for too long. 

Wood is a flammable material that could ignite in an instant, so do not expose it to direct flame or intense heat. Worst case scenario, it may ignite into a kitchen fire, at bare minimum it could ruin your bowl.

Microwaves heat food by exciting water molecules, which cause friction and generate energy that turns into heat. Wood naturally contains water, and occasionally it is seasoned with oil to keep the material from drying out.

Heat a wood bowl cause water to evaporate, eventually drying it out. 

While the moisture content of wood isn’t something that you may be fully aware of, it will have a significant impact on heating the wood.

As water heats up in the wood, it swells the material by creating steam that penetrates through the surface. 

As the wood begins to dry out, it cracks and warps. The negative affects leave the wood extremely brittle and prone to deterioration.

It is quite possible that you could microwave your wood bowl once or twice and not notice any differences, however prolonged exposure and repeated microwaving will eventually crack, damage or warp your bowl.

Not only does the wood get extremely hot and could burn you badly, but you could break your bowl. There is no need to take this risk, so why not transfer your food to a microwave-see dish instead?

Wooden Bowl Care Tips

We have detailed the reasons why you should never microwave a wooden bowl or use it to heat or cook food. But, do you know how to properly care for a wood bowl?

In some ways, it can be treated like a regular dish in the cupboard, but if you want it to last a long time then there are a few steps to maintain its good condition with proper care.

Check out these tips to get the best results while caring for your wooden bowl. 

Seasoning Wooden Bowls

Wooden bowls should be seasoned similarly to reasons why cast iron dishes are seasoned, but using a different method.

Your wood bowl might come pre-seasoned, but this is something you may want to verify before putting it to use.  It’s not a bad idea to season the wood grain once yourself, just so that you know it was seasoned properly.

By seasoning, we are not referring to sprinkling salt and pepper over the surface. The process prepares the wood bowl by protecting the material and preserving the finish.

The seasoning process applies a layer of protection over the surface to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood grains. Though this process preserves the surface for extended use and protects it from a slight amount of heat, this does not make the word bowl microwave-safe.

Seasoning should be done immediately after purchasing the wood bowl, and also every few months depending on how frequently it is used.

For best results, a wooden bowl should be seasoned once a month, or every 3-4 months at the very least.

Use a food grade mineral oil to protect, preserve and condition the surface for long-lasting usage. 

Ultimately, it is up to you to properly care for and maintain the dish. You can follow the instructions on the label.

If you are using mineral oil, these steps will be useful:

  • Completely dry the wooden bowl.
  • Place a tablespoon of mineral oil on a clean rag – or apply on the wooden bowl directly. Gently rub the oil into the surface, both inside and outside.
  • Allow the mineral oil to soak into the wood for 5-10 minutes. 
  • After the mineral oil has had enough time to soak into the wood, use a clean, dry rag to wipe away any excess oil.

Repeat the steps of the seasoning process as often as needed. Wiping up the residual oil doesn’t allow pools or wet spots to develop, therefore it is unlikely to over-season a wood bowl.

This conditioning process is really quite simple, and is proven to be the most effective way to protect and preserve the integrity of the bowl for the longterm. 

Avoid the Dishwasher

Similar circumstance as why wooden bowls aren’t great to use in a microwave, they should not be used in a dishwasher either.

The high heat, steam and moisture levels are too intense for the bowl to handle. The wood will crack, split or warp, just as it could if used in the microwave

The best way to clean a wood bowl is to wash by hand with a mild dish soap and lukewarm water. Give it a gentle scrub with a soft sponge and avoid using a hard abrasive like steel wool.

The bowl should be really easy to clean if you are properly seasoning the wood on a regular basis.

After washing the bowl, do not allow water to pool up at the bottom. Use a dry towel to remove as much water as possible. 

If the bowl is left to only air-dry, then the moisture can seep into the wood grain which can inevitably lead to damage such as cracking, splitting or warping.

Buy Good Quality Bowls

Quality over quantity is a common point of reference. Purchasing a quality bowl will inevitably prove to be more functional than a purely decorative centerpiece that is not made to last very long.

The difference will be clear as the wear and tear will be limited if the quality is good. The better the quality of the wooden bowl, the longer it will retain its luster. 

Hard woods like cherry, maple and walnut are recommended for strong and durable wooden bowls. These hard woods are also easier to care for and maintain.

Can you microwave wooden bowls?

Microwaving Wooden Bowls: Final Thoughts 

We hope that you have found this guide to be useful in determining whether or not you can microwave wooden bowls.

Wood bowls are not safe to use in a microwave. Exposure to intense heat, cooking temperatures and high level of moisture can potential damage the wood due to splitting or distorting in shape.

For long lasting results, purchase a good quality wood bowl, season regularly with a food grade mineral oil and wash by hand, do not use a dishwasher.

After washing, dry with a clean towel and do not leave the wood bowl to air-dry. Prolonged exposure to water while air-drying can cause the wood bowl to crack or warp. 

It is easy to properly are for a wooden bowl, so follow this guide and your bowl should last a very long time.