It’s hard to imagine life without a microwave. It’s perhaps the essential appliance in my kitchen, and keeps a young family fed while juggling all the other demands of modern life!
We’re also all using a lot more plastic items too, which begs a common question: Can plastic plates go in the microwave?
Unfortunately there’s not a simple answer to this question. Some can, and some can’t and so it’s important to understand what makes them different – and how to spot the right ones.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know.
Why aren’t all plastic plates microwave-safe?
Whether or not you can safely microwave a plastic plate depends on the type of plastic it’s made from. This in turn affects the plate’s melting temperature.
When you heat a plastic plate up a huge amount, it can potentially release harmful chemicals which then make their way into your food.
This isn’t a big problem occasionally, but the health issues can all add up over time.
How I can tell if my plastic plates are microwave-safe?
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to check whether your plastic plate is microwave-safe or not.
Check the label
If your plastic plate is safe for the microwave, it will usually be labeled as such. Look over the plate and see if you can find either microwave-safe text, or a symbol. This symbol will either be of a microwave, or a handful of wavy lines.
What’s the material?
Certain plastic plates are made from microwave-safe materials. These materials are safer because they have a higher melting point, which means they’re much less likely to release any chemicals when used in a microwave.
Two materials that are a strict no-no are polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC. These are both problematic because they have a comparatively low melting point.
A good rule of thumb? The industry standard for food-safe plastic is material marked as BPA-free. This means the material does not contain a chemical called bisphenol A, which can cause health issues.
Can I test if my plastic plate is microwave-safe?
I’d always recommend only using plastic plates that are marked as microwave-safe. Those markings can get scratched away over time though, so there is a test if you want to give it a try!
- Fill a microwave-safe glass with water.
- Put the plastic container next to it in the microwave.
- Heat them both on high for one minute.
- If the plastic container gets hot while the water stays cool, it’s not microwave-safe.
My instinct? If your plate is so scratched that you can’t be sure it’s microwave-safe, it’s better to just buy a replacement you can have total confidence in.
Frequently Asked Questions
I hope that’s given you a much better understanding of why certain plastic plates can’t go in the microwave, and some can!
Before wrapping up this guide, I just wanted to answer some of the related questions that often come up around this topic.
What happens if you microwave a plastic plate?
A few things can happen if you microwave a plastic plate that’s not microwave-safe. For example, the plastic may melt or warp.
If it is microwave-safe, however, you shouldn’t see any damage at all.
How can you tell if a plastic plate is microwave-safe?
As mentioned earlier on in this guide, you can tell if a plastic plate is microwave-safe by looking for text that states this, or a logo of wavy lines.
Can I microwave a disposable plastic plate?
I definitely don’t recommend this, simply because the majority of disposable plates are made from either polystyrene or PVC.
Again, these have lower melting temperatures and so aren’t at all suitable for microwave heating.
Is plastic safe to microwave generally?
Because not all plastics are safe to microwave, you should look for those safety markings on any plastic containers you’re thinking of using in your appliance.
Is Tupperware safe to microwave?
Most of the modern Tupperware products you can buy today have been designed to be microwave-safe.
They use materials that don’t melt at high temperatures, and so won’t leech any chemicals into your food or drink.
Although it’s true that certain plastic plates can be used in the microwave, you really must check that this has been approved by the manufacturer.
Check the labels on the plastic plate itself and avoid using BPA-free products altogether.
If in doubt, it’s much better to replace the item with something you’re sure can be used safely in the microwave. These are inexpensive items at the end of the day, and your wellbeing is far more important!
Mark’s a lifelong food fanatic and spent ten years working as an entertainment journalist. He now combines his love of food, drink and writing as the founder and editor of Viva Flavor. Read more