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What Does Microwave-Safe Mean?

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A microwave is a fairly common kitchen appliance in modern households. From reheating frozen food to steaming broccoli and boiling a cup of water to make tea, the microwave is used for cooking food and beverages much more efficiently.

However, there are specific things that can go inside a microwave, and somethings that cannot. As far as safety is concerned, it is important to understand what microwave safe means.

What does microwave safe mean? Something is microwave-safe if it doesn’t heat up directly when nuked, even if there is no food or water inside. A microwave works by heating up water molecules and creating heat through friction. 

A microwave safe container won’t melt as the food heats indirectly, this is important as it would add chemicals to your food while it is being heated. Besides melting, a vessel shouldn’t contain any metal whatsoever. 

This article seeks to explain the what microwave safe really means, how to tell if something is microwave safe and what the microwave safe symbol looks like. For everything you need to know about microwave safe and more, continue reading to reveal all the answers to your questions.

Guide to Microwaving Safely

Are you aware that the US food and drug administration regulates microwave ovens? The microwave manufacturers must conform with product safety performance and the standards created and enforced by the FDA to ensure public health is taken care of. 

A microwave appliance will be safe if only they are used correctly. Unfortunately, people have sustained injuries resulting from microwave radiation, mainly resulting from a lack of proper maintenance on the device. 

Therefore, you should use your microwave oven properly to ensure it guarantees safety. 

What are some recommendations for using a microwave? To start with, ensure you adhere to the manufacturer’s manuals and instructions. Follow the directions on how to use the microwave as provided in the manual.

Also, use a microwave with safe containers, avoid superheating water, check for leakages, and don’t use an appliance that seems to operate with the door open.  

When dealing with microwavable kitchenware, you tend to think about ceramic or glass

Plastic tends to be looked at with caution. However, despite many myths about microwaving plastic, they can also be as safe as glass and ceramics, and sometimes even more convenient. 

The words microwave-safe refers to products that won’t melt if subjected to intense heat inside a microwave oven. Any product showing the microwave symbol should be safe to use with both food and beverages.

What does not microwave safe mean?

You might be wondering if your bowls are microwave or not. Unfortunately, it would be hard to tell if there is no clear indication or microwave safe symbol on the bottom of your dish

Although many dishes and bowls are said to be microwave safe, if you fail to use the right dish, you can ruin your dinnerware and the dinner. Microwaves bring convenience to your life, but there are some precautions you need to adhere to while using your dishes with it. 

Always confirm your dish is safe while using it with the microwave. if they are not microwavable, some dishes might get damaged, warp or melt due to the heat generated by the microwave. 

The microwave-safe dishes can be used for storing or cooking food in a microwave. The non-microwave safe dishes are only usable for serving or storing food. 

In order to examine the dish, check the bottom of your bowl to see if there is an indication if it is microwave safe or not. 

How Do You Know If Something Is Microwave Safe?

To examine if your dish is microwave-safe or not, turn the dish in question upside down so that you can check for any such indication on the bottom. The majority of dishes will provide a symbol stating whether they are safe to use in a microwave or not.  

If there is no clear marking or label on the bottom, and the dish in question is the only option available, then you can test the dish to see if it is microwave safe. This method varies by brand and manufacturer; so you should always check what is written in the manual.

Set your microwave to the highest power settings. Add a cup of water into the cup, dish or container you want to check, and place inside the microwave. Microwave the dish or the cup for a minute and observe if the dish or container gets warm after the heating. 

If the dish or the container gets warm or hot after the heating, the container isn’t microwaved safe. 

If the container or dish is cool after the cup of water is hot, then it means they are microwave safe.

What Are You Not Supposed to Put in The Microwave?

You might constantly be on the run to get things done, but it is important to consider what you use when it comes to microwaving food. Some types of materials are meant never to be used in a microwave. 

While a microwave makes things seem convenient, it is vital to know that not everything is meant for safe use in a microwave. A crucial point is your safety, food safety and potential risk of fire danger. 

Therefore, it is vital to know what appliance belongs in the microwave, and which ones do not. 

There are few things you should never put in a microwave, and metal is at the top of the list. Aluminum foil, stainless steel, copper, brass or any type of metal is not permitted in a microwave! 

When you put metal in a microwave, the electromagnetic waves will warm up the item, get reflected off the item, and eventually cause the metal to burn, spark and ignite on fire. That would be harmful to your microwave and potentially very dangerous. 

Disposable plastic dishes, and plastic sandwich bags are also dangerous as they could melt and cause contamination to your food.

When dealing with microwaves, it is best to keep it simple; it is worth remembering that they were meant to warm food, but not completely eliminate the need for stovetop cooking.

Microwave Safe Symbol

Not all containers are microwave safe. But how do you tell if something is safe for use in the microwave or not? 

Here are some tips you can check to know if it is safe or not:

  • Most of the containers will have a symbol at the bottom. 
  • For microwave-safe items they will always have some wavy lines at the bottom. 
  • If you see a symbol ‘’pp” of a triangle with a number “5”, it is an indicator it is microwave safe. 
  • CPET is also an indicator of microwave-safe items. They are often used for ready made items for use. 
  • APET symbol indicates an item is not safe for microwave use. Even though they are used for packaging food and recyclable, they aren’t safe for reheating or cooking food. 
  • Polystyrene (styrofoam) is not safe for microwaves since it melts due to the heat and the majority use is for its insulation properties. They can help keep food warm, but reheating them in a microwave can be dangerous. 
  • Paper and products like paper cups or paper plates needn’t go in the microwave since some are glued, sealed, or coated, and the additives may leak to the food.  

What Does Microwave-Safe Plastic Mean?

Plastic is the product of science as they are made from fossil fuels, which gives them significant capabilities and properties. 

With so many products have similar properties, so how can you tell what type of plastic the container is made with? By checking the bottom of the dish, it is easy to see if it has been labeled with a recycling symbol that is commonly found on all plastic items. 

How will you tell if the plastic in your house is microwave safe? By looking at the number, you can tell what type of plastic is used and if it can be used in a microwave or not. 

Microwavable plastic is reinforced with strengthening chemicals that are meant to prevent the plastic from melting while in the microwave. 

  • Types 1, 2 and 4 are microwave-safe plastics since they are resilient to heating and can’t easily melt. 
  • Type 5 plastic is also labeled as microwave safe since the material is hard and resilient to heat. 
  • Type 3, 6, and 7 are not microwave safe plastics since they melt when exposed to high heat.

Even though all plastics are derived from petroleum, irrespective of the type of plastic, high temperatures will cause some chemicals to leach to your food as the synthetic material melts. 

What Is a Microwave-Safe Container?

Many manufacturers label their items such as bowls, cups, and plates as microwave safe. Any container you have that doesn’t have the symbol on the bottom, then it shouldn’t be used in a microwave. 

Glass and ceramic, along with some plastic dish ware, are labeled as microwave safe and can be good choices. If you don’t find a label indicating the utensils are microwave safe, don’t use them in your microwave. 

Don’t use ceramic or glass if it contains a metal rim. If you don’t find the label for your container’s safety, you can test it to be sure before cooking or reheating any food items. 

Even though microwaves provide a convenient means of cooking, safety counts too. Microwaved food will not be safe to eat if the food container is not designed for use in a microwave. 

The consumer needs to ensure they are following microwave safety protocols. In addition, achieving safe food temperature is important since food that has not reached the proper internal temperature may harbor harmful bacteria that could cause a food borne illness. 

What Does Microwave-Safe Reheat Only Mean?

If you see a reheat code on your dish, your microwave can likely reheat your last night’s leftover pretty well, however it should not be used to cook food. A container or dish that is labeled as reheat only must be microwaved on the reheat setting or 50% power level.

Microwave heat must be reduced as higher thresholds may cause the container to melt. For example, plastic Tupperware and Ziploc bag are labeled by the manufacture as reheat only, therefore they cannot withstand high heat level required for cooking food.

Microwave safe indicates that your container is safe, although the symbol might vary a lot. Some show the image of a microwave, while others indicate 3 or 5 waves. 

The squiggly line shows that you can reheat your food with ease. It is safe to reheat leftovers that are fully defrosted. 

Do realize that frozen food might take longer to reheat. It’s best to defrost frozen items, then proceed with the recommended heat levels, this helps to prevent the food from drying out or overcooking on the outside edges.

You will also need to keep stirring the food while reheating. Stopping and stirring every minute or two is the recommended method.

What does microwave safe mean

Microwave Safe Containers: Final Thoughts

This detailed article equips you with the right information you need to choose microwavable items for your household. Ease of use as well as high durability are some of the reasons why microwaves have become extremely popular in everyday life. 

Many food containers used in household kitchen are not safe for use in a microwave. 

It is important to look for the microwave safe symbol before cooking or reheating food in just any container inside the microwave. Here are the best microwave safe containers that will protect you food in the appliance.

Microwave safe dishes are perfect if you need to heat and serve some foods without the hustle of doing messy transfers. The containers are not as hot, easy to carry and are much more durable. 

The majority of microwavable containers are also dishwasher safe, and you can, therefore, clean them up with much ease.

Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration regulates microwave ovens in the US. It is a requirement that the appliance manufacturers certify their products for safety performance standards, which are reinforced by the FDA to protect the public health concerns.