Can You Microwave Paper Plates – Is It Safe?

It’s normal to be worried about putting the wrong product or material inside your microwave oven, for risk of fire or chemical leaching. 

If you have never tried microwaving paper plates before, you may be reluctant to do it. But they are incredibly practical, especially at parties and family gatherings. That’s why you may be tempted to use them for heating food. 

So, can you microwave paper plates? In most cases, yes. But there’s more to it.

Can You Microwave Paper Plates

Are paper plates microwave safe? Most of them are, but there are certain manufacturers that make paper plates you should avoid putting in the microwave. Not all paper plates are the same, as some contain a variety of materials. In case you can’t find any information regarding safe use in a microwave on the packaging of the paper plates, you should avoid using them.

The good news is that plain white paper plates are always safe to use in a microwave since they contain only cellulose, paper scraps, along with some wood chemicals. None of these materials will have a harmful effect on the food you’re heating in your microwave.

Coated vs Uncoated

I previously mentioned that plain white paper plates are always a safe bet when it comes to using them in a microwave. That’s because they aren’t coated with any additional materials. 

On the other hand, there are plenty of paper plates that contain a thin layer of plastic. You should avoid using them at all costs if they don’t contain a microwave-safe symbol since the plastic can contaminate your food in case it starts to melt.

Are Coated Paper Plates Toxic When Microwaved

Yes, the coated paper plates that are not designed for microwave use can be toxic when heated at a certain temperature. When the plastic begins to melt, it will slowly get into your food and may cause horrific health problems if you eat it. This can be especially problematic if the plates contain a harmful chemical known as bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA.

Do Paper Plates Contain BPA or Dioxin

Dioxin is a chemical compound that’s an environmental pollutant. It can sometimes be found in a wide range of products. You should never microwave a plate or container that contains dioxin. Thankfully, paper plates do not contain this compound.

On the other hand, BPA can be sometimes found in paper plates. Companies that make paper plates know that consumers are concerned with safety, so they always mention on the packaging whether their products are BPA-free. To avoid any potential health problems, you should never microwave paper plates that contain BPA.

Will Paper Plates Catch Fire in a Microwave

It’s pretty normal to assume that something made out of paper will start to burn when heated at a certain temperature. However, this is something you don’t need to worry about when it comes to paper plates. Certain types of paper are combustible and will burn in a microwave, but paper plates are generally safe.

The microwave energy in your appliance will pass through the paper plates to heat your food. That’s not to say you can safely keep paper plates in a microwave for a long time. The food can cause the plates to become damaged if heated for more than a few minutes.

Some of the paper products that could catch fire quickly inside a microwave include coffee cups and brown paper bags. Not only that, but these two types of products will also emit toxic fumes if heated in a microwave.

Will A Paper Plate Go Soft in a Microwave

The paper plate you’re using won’t go soft in a microwave unless it’s coated with plastic or decorated with flammable ink. The reason why standard microwave-safe paper plates won’t go soft is that microwave energy passes through them to heat your food.

How To Tell If A Paper Plate is Microwave Safe

There are multiple ways to tell whether you can safely use paper plates for heating food in a microwave. The easiest way is to check whether there is a microwave-safe symbol on the packaging. Another great method is to test your paper plate. Finally, you can choose to only buy paper plates from reputable brands that design their products in a way that makes them safe for use in a microwave.

Microwave Safe Symbol

You can tell whether you can safely use paper plates inside a microwave by checking whether the packaging features the appropriate symbol. The microwave-safe symbol contains three wavey lines that are hard to miss.

Microwave Safe symbol
Microwave Safe Symbol

Test Your Paper Plate

You can always test a paper plate before using it to reheat food in a microwave. Simply fill a cup with water and place it in the microwave along with a paper plate. Turn on the microwave and let it run for a minute or two. Take out both the cup and the plate. In the event that the paper plate is cold and the cup is warm, the plate is microwave safe.

Microwave Safe Paper Plate Brands

There are several microwave-safe paper plate brands that you can rely on that are made out of recycled paper or cardboard and treated appropriately for use in microwave ovens. These brands know that many of their customers use their products for reheating food in microwaves, which is why they put extra effort into ensuring they won’t start a fire or contaminate your food. These brands include Comfy Package, Glad, and Dixie.

You may also be interested in reading Can you Microwave Parchment Paper?

How To Use Paper Plates in A Microwave

You should only use paper plates for reheating food. Don’t ever attempt to use them for cooking food, as that will most likely lead to a fire. Paper plates shouldn’t be exposed to high temperatures for a long time. Here are some other tips you should follow.

Use Uncoated Plates

The most important thing you need to remember before sticking a paper plate inside a microwave oven is to make sure they aren’t coated with any type of plastic. In case you don’t, you may end up consuming food that’s contaminated with harmful compounds that’ll make you feel sick.

Limit Microwave Time

Anything can catch on fire if you leave it exposed to extreme temperatures for a long enough time. That’s why you should limit microwave time when using paper plates. In general, you shouldn’t heat food on a paper plate for more than two minutes. Otherwise, the plate may become too hot to touch or even damaged. It’s best to keep an eye on the paper plate you’re using while it’s in the microwave and check whether your food is ready every 30 seconds.

Double Stack for Extra Strength

Stacking paper plates is an excellent strategy if you’re reheating vegetables and oily foods. In this case, it’s best to use two or more paper plates stacked on top of each other for additional support. Doing this will allow the plates to absorb the grease and oil.

You may also like to read Can You Put Napkins Or Paper Towels In The Microwave?

Verdict: Can You Microwave Paper Plates

In summary, yes, you microwave paper plates, but you need to be cautious not to put the wrong type of plate inside your microwave. There are certain paper plates that are coated with thin layers of plastic or decorated with flammable ink that could either contaminate your food or cause a fire. As long as you find a microwave-safe symbol on the packaging or test the plate before using it to heat food, you won’t be exposed to any harmful compounds.

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Having renovated two homes and completed countless repairs, it was time to share this experience with the world. From repairing kitchen appliances to remodeling entire homes, my 30 years of experience will hopefully help you on your journey to a beautiful and functional home