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Can paper plates go in the microwave?
If you’re standing at the ready, paper plate in hand, ready to shove it in the microwave, read this first!
Paper plates are a popular way of saving on dishes or serving food to guests at a party or event, but sometimes the food on it needs to be heated up.
The oven is a no-no with a paper plate (duh), but can you put disposable paper plates in the microwave?
The answer is yes, you can, but read on for more information and to make sure your paper plate is actually microwave safe.
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The Basics of Microwaves and Paper Plates
Why does a paper plate not set on fire in a microwave?
While there are some things you should never put in a microwave, like aluminum foil, paper plates usually fare absolutely fine.
The reason for this is that microwaves are essentially heating up using electromagnetic waves.
A material has to be able to absorb these waves in order to heat up.
Paper plates cannot absorb these waves and have no “free charge” which means that the molecules inside the paper plate aren’t phased by the microwaves hitting them.
They won’t move, thus they won’t heat up and shouldn’t start a fire because of it.
Food, however, does have the ability to absorb these microwaves, which is why the food on your plate can heat up without the paper plate heating up as well.
Can You Microwave Paper Plates?
The easiest answer to whether or not you can put a paper plate in the microwave is yes, you can.
A 100% paper plate can go in the microwave.
Is it Safe to Microwave Paper Plates?
Is a microwaved paper plate going to set on fire?
Are there any dangers to be aware of?
While it is safe to microwave paper plates, the absolute safest thing to do would be to make sure the plate itself is marked as “microwave safe.”
This is the only surefire way to microwave a paper plate with safety in mind, though there are some other tips and tricks to help you decide if you should go ahead below.
Tips for Microwaving Paper Plates
When it comes to microwaving paper plates, follow these important tips.
1. Make sure your paper plate is 100% paper without a waxy or metallic coating
Like we talked about above, paper itself is a material that won’t heat up due to microwaves, but other materials easily can.
Make sure your paper plate is 100% paper and doesn’t have a waxy coating or any other intricate details or metallic inlays.
These can cause the plate to melt or spark in the microwave.
2. Make sure your paper plate is clean before putting food on it
Something like a paper plate covered in oil from oily fingers may pose a larger risk in the microwave than a fresh disposable plate.
Use a new paper plate, if possible, to microwave.
3. Do a test if you’re not sure
One way to test if your paper plates are microwave safe is to put the plate in the microwave next to a bowl of water, and heat on high for about 1 minute.
If the paper plate is hot to the touch when you take it out, then it’s best not to use these plates to heat food in the microwave.
4. Be careful of soggy plates
While it isn’t dangerous to put a paper plate in the microwave, if the food itself is soggy, the paper plate can definitely end up very soggy and “wet” when being removed from the microwave.
Be aware of this and don’t pull the paper plate out at one time in one swift movement without doing having awareness of the structure of the plate.
5. Don’t heat food dripping fats on a paper plate
The one concern when heating paper plates in the microwave is if you’re cooking a food that is dripping fats onto it.
This could spark a fire and char the plate.
Typically for reheating food, you’ll be fine, but if you have meats or other fatty foods that have liquid fat “drippings” that might hit the plate, just go for a safer microwaveable dish instead.
Best Paper Plates for the Microwave
If you want to make sure your paper plates are microwave safe, check out a few of our favorite options.
Cheapest Microwaveable Paper Plates
If you just want cheap and regular paper plates that are safe for the microwave, these Fonteme Everyday Disposable Paper Plates will make sure that you can heat without issues every time.
Best Heavy Duty Microwaveable Paper Plates
If you’re on the hunt for a sturdy paper plate for the microwave, these GLAD soak proof plates are microwave safe and will make sure that you always have a sturdy, structured, and heavy duty plate to use in the microwave.
Pile it high and heat up that giant pile of mac and cheese!
Best Eco-Friendly Microwave Plates
Using resources like paper can feel terrible for the eco-conscious as many throw them away after one use, but with these biodegradable and microwaveable paper plates, you can actually compost them and not have to worry about your environmental impact while still knowing that they will work to heat up your food safely in the microwave.
Hey! For more food prep tips, check out our other guides: