When it comes to reheating food, there is a regular debate as to whether or not aluminum takeout containers are safe to use in the microwave. While many are quick to say no, the science suggests otherwise.
The truth is that there are no specific health risks associated with heating food in aluminum foil or containers. However, there are some safety considerations that must be taken into account before reheating an aluminum foil-wrapped meal in your microwave oven. So let’s unwrap the facts and solve the question, Can You Microwave Food in Aluminum Takeout Containers?
Are Aluminum Takeout Containers Microwave Safe?
There are two separate distinctions that need to be made here.
- Can you reheat food contained within a foil takeaway container? Yes, this is safe if you follow the basic guidelines provided by USDA Food Safety & Inspection Services.
- Can you microwave an empty aluminum takeout container? You can but not without the risk of causing a spark, potentially leading to a fire hazard
Risks of Putting Aluminum Foil into Microwave
So each time you want to reheat a Chiptole Bowl or Indian Takeout you need to approach it with a few safety thoughts in mind. While it is generally safe to heat food in aluminum foil, there are still a few things you need to consider before popping an aluminum foil-wrapped meal into the microwave oven.
Damaging the Microwave Oven
In general, a microwave oven emits around 2,450 megahertz of energy. Since aluminum foil is a very good conductor that absorbs the energy emitted by the microwave, the foil can cause energy arcs and electric sparks that may damage the microwave’s internal components.
This is the main reason why you should never put an empty aluminum foil or container in the microwave oven. There should be a reasonable amount of food in the container that will absorb most of the microwave energy so that you don’t inadvertently cause damage to the microwave oven itself.
Sparking a Fire
Fire rarely occurs when you heat food in aluminum takeout containers. However, please make sure that the container you use is food-grade and thick enough so that it can withstand the energy emitted by the microwave.
Never put small pieces of aluminum foil into the microwave because it cannot withstand the energy and may spark and ignite, causing a fire. When you are using aluminum foil in the microwave, be careful to not overheat it.
Rules for Safe Use of Aluminum Foil in Microwaves
To avoid potential accidents, here are some useful tips and tricks for the safe use of aluminum foil in microwave ovens provided by the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Services
- Use new aluminum foil when heating food in the microwave oven. Wrinkled foil can cause sparks as uneven energy absorption.
- Do not use aluminum foil with sharp edges. This means that before popping your food in the microwave, smoothen its edges to prevent energy arcs and sparks.
- Cover no more than 25% of the food in aluminum foil before heating it up in the microwave oven. This way, the food will absorb the most amount of energy instead of the aluminum foil itself.
- There is no difference if you use the shiny or dull side of the aluminum foil for covering the food inside the microwave oven.
- Make sure that the aluminum foil or container is at least an inch away from the oven walls before you place the food inside.
- Most microwave ovens come with a glass turntable. However, if yours comes with a metal turntable, do not microwave food in food in aluminum foils or containers.
- Whenever possible, use an aluminum tray with a depth that is less than 3cm. The shallower the container is the better.
Verdict: Is It Safe to Microwave Aluminum Foil
With proper care and attention, microwaving food in aluminum foil containers is generally safe and will not cause any adverse health effects.
You should follow the USDA safety guidelines when microwaving food in aluminum foil or containers. Applying these recommendations will prevent fire and other potential accidents from happening.
As a rule of thumb, you should never put an empty aluminum container inside the microwave nor should you let the foil touch the sides of the microwave oven. Metal-to-metal contact can produce arcs and sparks which in extreme cases can lead to fire or result in electrical damage.
FAQs Microwave Aluminum Takeout Containers
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