You can put handcrafted ceramics in the microwave

What can and must not go in the microwave? An expert reveals the answers

Microwaves are pretty much everywhere - homes, workplaces, schools, hospitals, you name it. Despite their popularity, most of us are not entirely sure what these cooking wizards can and cannot do.

That is why we turned to Bob Schiffmann, President of the International Microwave Power Institute. With 55 years of experience working with microwave ovens, he is recognized as an expert in the field. You will be surprised what he has to say.

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Here is all that you can and shouldn't put in a microwave

1. What about plastics?

"Almost all plastics are safe in the microwave," says Schiffmann, "but if an item is labeled" not suitable for microwaves "- of course not in the microwave!" Rule of thumb: always check all labels and warnings before placing them in the microwave.


  • Do not heat dry food in plastic as the plastic can melt.
  • Do not use disposable containers such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and margarine.
  • Do not use pitted or deformed plastic containers.

If you cover food with plastic wrap, make sure that the packaging does not touch the food. Also, cover the food lightly to allow steam to escape; Otherwise you can get steam burned and this can be serious!

2. Styrofoam is actually safe, but there are some exceptions

Styrofoam is safe to use in the microwave when heating pure liquids like coffee or tea water.


  • Do not continue heating when it is boiling.
  • Do not heat items that contain fats or solids, such as soups or ramen noodles.

3. Paper is fine as long as it is the right type of paper

Paper towels, waxed paper, parchment paper, paper plates, and bowls are all fine in the microwave.

Newspaper is not sanitary and it leaches ink into whatever you're cooking, so don't use it.

Brown paper bags are never safe in the microwave as they can't withstand much heat and catch fire. They can also release toxic fumes and can contain germs that can be passed on to food.

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4. Are glazed ceramics safe?

Glaze ceramics - from stoneware to porcelain - can be used in the microwave. Corning ware and glass cookware like Pyrex and Anchor Hocking are safe. However, beware of glazed ceramics that are made in China - regardless of price or name. Because China does not adequately regulate the industry, some manufacturers use glazes that contain high amounts of lead and arsenic - dangerous elements that can penetrate food when microwaved.

Another problem with using glazed ceramic in the microwave relates to the amount of heat that the bowl or mug will retain. To make sure your coffee cup or mug doesn't overheat in the microwave, add half a cup of water to the mug and cook it in the microwave for 30 seconds. If the mug is hotter than the water it contains, don't microwave.

5. What about ceramics that are handmade by you or a friend?

According to Sarah Millfelt, president of the Minnesota Northern Clay Center, handcrafted ceramic dishes and cups are fine in the microwave as long as the glaze has not cracked and there are no metal embellishments. To ensure that the cup does not overheat, Schiffmann recommends performing the water test as described above.

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6. Dishes / cups with metallic trim. Yes or no?

If there are metal parts on an object, it is never safe to use in the microwave. Never. Not only will the metal overheat, but it can also damage the oven or bowl.

7. Is aluminum foil okay?

Schiffmann made the first attempts with the use of aluminum foil in microwave ovens and the results are still valid today. Aluminum foil can be used to wrap the ends of chicken or turkey or duck legs so they don't overcook. However, aluminum foil that is wrinkled, bent, or in small pieces cannot be used because it can create arcs and sparks, especially if it is too close to the sides of the microwave.

8. Twist ties - a definite no no!

Because they create arcs and sparks, twist bonds should never be used in microwaves. Period.

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9. Beware of metal handles on Chinese dispensing containers

Remove the metal handles on these containers before heating food as the handles may overheat and burn the container.

10. Metal pans - here's what you need to know

Microwaving food in a metal pan isn't unsafe, but it's inefficient. Because the microwaves cannot penetrate metal, so they only reach the top of the food, explains Schiffmann. (Now you know why you can't reheat coffee in a stainless steel mug.) In non-metallic containers, microwaves can penetrate all sides for faster cooking.

That said, you can leave all-metal spoons in your coffee mug or cereal bowl in the microwave and they won't overheat. Just make sure they are all metal. Utensils with wooden or plastic handles can get hot from rivets or screws.

11. What about staples on tea bags?

No need to remove the staple when microwaving a tea bag in water. It was Schiffmann who conducted studies for the Lipton Tea Company that proved the staple food on the tea bag label was safe in the microwave.

One final piece of advice: never leave the microwave on with nothing. The heat has nowhere to go and can damage the magnetron and ruin the microwave.

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Jul.09.201502: 16