How To Know If A Plate Is Microwave Safe?

Do you ever wonder if the plate you are about to heat up in the microwave is safe to use? If so, you’re not alone! Microwaving food with the wrong dishes can cause burns, harmful chemicals, fires, and explosions. So how can you tell if the plate you’re using is safe to put in the microwave?

How To Know If A Plate Is Microwave Safe?

The easiest and quickest way to tell if a plate is microwave safe is to turn it over to see if it has a microwave-safe symbol. Some manufacturers imprint the word “Microwave Safe” in bold print, while others place a symbol that consists of squiggly lines and snowflake icons.

Unfortunately, not all plates will have this symbol. If your plate does not have a microwave-safe symbol, don’t despair! There are still a few ways to tell if it’s safe to use. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about the types of plates, cups, and dinnerware you can and cannot use in the microwave. 

Is This Dish Safe To Use In The Microwave?

Most people use the microwave to heat leftovers because it’s quick and convenient. But unfortunately, they never consider whether the plate or bowl they use is microwave safe.

Most dishes are safe for microwaving, but not all are. Using the wrong dish in the microwave can cause burns, explosions, and toxic chemicals to leach into your food. 

So, knowing how to test your dishes and what materials hold up best under high microwave temperatures is essential.

What Does A Microwave Symbol Look Like?

The microwave symbol looks like a curly wave. Many manufacturers stamp the symbol on the back of the plate. This symbol means that the product can be used in a microwave oven without fear of damage or injury.

microwave-safe symbols

How to Test If A Bowl or Plate Is Microwave Safe Before Using

It can be hard to tell if a bowl, plate, or dinnerware is safe to use in the microwave, especially if you inherited or purchased second-hand plates. That said, there are two tests you can do to see if the plate is microwave safe.

Below are two quick tests to determine whether the dish is microwave safe.

#1 Look For The Microwave Safe Symbol On The Back

The first test is the simplest: look for a microwave-safe label. Manufacturers place these labels on products that can be safely used in the microwave oven. 

The label will usually feature a microwave icon with wavy lines. If you see this symbol, it is safe to use the dish in the microwave.

If your dish does not have a microwave-safe label, you can still check if it is safe to use.

#2 Nuke Some Water On High

Place the plate or bowl in the microwave along with a cup of water. Nuke it on high for one minute. The dish isn’t microwavable if the plate gets hot and the water doesn’t.

What Materials Can You Microwave?

Before using any of your favorite plates, cups, or dinnerware in the microwave, it’s best to follow the instructions or labels on the owner’s manual for your specific microwave model. 

The owner’s manual will list materials that can and cannot go in the microwave.

Below is a detailed list of everyday household items you can use to heat your food and liquids in the appliance. 

  • Glass and ceramics: These are great for microwaving leftovers. Just make sure you don’t leave the food in the microwave too long, as the dishware will get hot. Opt for clear or solid color plates, mugs, cups, etc.
  • Specific Plastic: Opt for high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and polypropylene (PP) types of plastic containers and Tupperware. Look for a resin code on the container to ensure it is microwave safe. The number “1” or “no symbol” means the container can not go in the microwave.
  • Bagasse: These are molded fiber containers safe to use in both the microwave and the oven. They come in many shapes and sizes and are popular for take-out containers, plates, and bowls.

What Not to Put In The Microwave

  • Plastic #1: Also known as Polytheylene Terephthalate has a melting point of 120°F and will cause BPA and Phthalates to leach into your food. Plastic #1 products consist of water food packaging used for bottles, food jars, containers such as butter, dome covers for prepared meals, etc.
  • Anything Metal or Steel: The is includes utensils, aluminum foil, containers, silverware, sheet pans, kitchen shears, large pots, pons, or dinnerware with metal rims. Watch for things that are not so obvious such as; chip clips, twist ties, Chinese take-out containers, tea bags, etc.
  • Styrofoam: Avoid microwaving styrofoam plates, cups, take-out containers, etc., as the microwave process can cause food to spill outside of the container and speeds up the chemical leaching process.
  • Aluminum Foil: Metal is a deterrent and causes the electric fields from the microwave to flow through the metal without warming the food. Thin pieces of aluminum foil are overwhelmed by these currents and can heat up quickly, potentially causing a fire. That said, some aluminum containers are microwavable, but if it is safe to use in the microwave, it will say. It’s best to avoid using any type of aluminum in the microwave.
  • Pots & Pans with Plastic Handles: While the pot or pan itself may be microwave safe, the plastic handles are not. The heat from the food can cause the plastic to melt, release toxins, and cause burns.
  • Glass with A Gold Rim: The gold in the rim of the glass can heat up and cause the glass to shatter.
  • Porcelain & Ceramic Dishes with Metallic Paint: If the porcelain dish is decorated with metallic decoration, opt for an alternate microwave-safe dish.
  • Paper products: Newspaper, paper bags, take-out containers, printed cups, and paper plates don’t do well in the microwave. These products are susceptible to catching fire and may emit toxic fumes. That said, it’s perfectly fine to use paper towels, butcher paper, parchment paper, plain white paper plates, and bowls.

Can I Use A Plate That Is Not Microwave Safe?

It is possible to heat food in a plate or dish that isn’t microwave-safe but not recommended. If you use a plate that isn’t microwave-safe, keep an eye on it and stop the microwaving cycle if you see any sparks or notice the plate getting excessively hot.

Also, be sure to allow the plate to cool completely before touching it, as it may be scalding. Finally, never use a non-microwavable plate if it takes more than a few minutes to heat your food. Otherwise, the plate can get too hot and explode.

Remember that it only takes 30 seconds for a microwave to reach temperatures of more than 120°F, which is when plastic begins leaching dangerous chemicals into food.

So, while you can use a non-microwave safe plate in the microwave if you’re careful, it’s generally best to avoid doing so.

Final Word

The easiest way to check if a dish is microwave safe is to look for the microwave symbol. However, not all dishes will have this symbol. If your dish does not have the microwave-safe symbol, you can test it by microwaving water along with the dish.

Once you know which dishes are microwave safe, you can avoid using the wrong dishes. 

This not only improves the taste of your food but also prevents injuries. When in doubt, play it safe, and don’t microwave the dish!

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