You’re probably wondering if aluminum foil can go in the microwave. If stainless steel is microwave-safe, then can you put aluminum foil in the microwave? Is it safe?
This article is going to be very informative. We will answer any question you may be having about microwaving aluminum foil.
What Is Aluminum Foil?
Aluminum foil is a strong, thin and flexible material made of aluminum. It’s a metal in the boron group on the periodic table.
The smooth side of foil is lined with a metallic layer and at times color.
The outer lining plays a barrier role between your food and metal so you don’t get aluminum poisoning after food ingestion.
Properties that make aluminum foil useful include;
- Good heat tolerance and conductivity
- Deadfold-it stays wrapped and does not require further sealing
- Corrosion resistance and non-toxicity
- It’s suitable in many cooking modes including grills, convection ovens and barbecues.
The most common use of aluminum foil is wrapping roasted meat, poultry and fish.
This helps to reduce drying, shrinkage and to also retain moisture during cooking.
Aluminum foil is malleable. It’s ideal for folding irregularly shaped items, like leftovers of meat joints.
Its deadfold characteristic allows total sealing of food contents without the need to tie or use a tape.
Aluminum foil is used to line cake molds and trays. This will give you an easy time when cleaning baking items.
It’s also used to keep pastry moist at the same moment, allowing penetration of heat quickly and effectively.
Miscellaneous kitchen uses
- Used to line grill pans. Aluminum foil protects your grill from burnt juices that are hard to clean.
- Used to assist in lifting bread or cake from the baking trays
- Used to wrap fruits, picnic lunches and sandwiches to keep them fresh.
Is It Safe To Microwave Aluminum Foil?
The answer to this question will surprise you.
Yes, it is safe to microwave foil. You are just required to take a few safety precautions.
Microwave oven is so convenient because it uses waves to heat food.
The waves travel into food through reflection. The molecules in food are made to vibrate, making your food heat.
Metals have a reflective property, causing radiowaves to bounce off.
What about foil? It is thinner thus allowing the waves to travel into the food.
If safety precautions are not taken, your foil may catch fire.
Follow the following precautions for safely microwave aluminum foil;
- Make sure to use smooth foil(Don’t use wrinkled foil)
- Use only new foil
- Ensure to keep distance between the microwave walls and the foil-preferably at least 1 inch
Tips For Putting Aluminum Foil In The Microwave
- Only use small pieces of aluminum foil
Waves produced by the oven do not pass through metals because it reflects them off.
If you cover the entire dish with aluminum foil, your food will definitely not heat properly.
You can, however, use little pieces of the foil to cover parts of the food.
If there are some parts you want to prevent from overheating, you can add some more smooth foil.
- Don’t use scrunched up or old foil
Old foil may spark or even burn up inside the microwave.
To prevent this, it’s important to use purely new smooth aluminum foil.
Do so, and you will never have to worry about the sparks or burning up.
- Shape the foil properly around the food
When applying the aluminum foil around your food, ensure to do so keenly and properly.
This will prevent the creation of problems caused by sharp edges.
- Leave some space between the foil and the microwave walls
Ensure to leave a space of at least one inch between the top, all sides of the microwave and the aluminum foil.
Again, if your microwave oven has metal shelves or a metal turntable, never use aluminum foil.
- Pay attention
This is absolutely not the kind of work you would set and forget while concentrating on other chores.
You need to watch closely on the microwave as the operation is going on.
If you note any sparks, shut it down straight away and remove the foil.
- Less is better
In case you must use aluminum foil in the microwave, ensure to keep the pieces small.
This reduces the chances of your foil coming into contact with the sides of the microwave, especially when the turntable is moving.
How Do I Know If Aluminum Foil Is Microwave Safe?
There are different ways to find out whether or not aluminum foil is microwave safe.
The first method is to read the manual user. If it indicates it’s safe for use in the microwave, then you can go ahead.
If there’s no information provided, you can directly contact the manufacturer.
Again, if your foil keeps on producing sparks when cooking, leave it.
In general, products made of thick aluminum aren’t microwavable.
What Happens When You Accidentally Put A Lot Of Foil In The Microwave?
If you happen to accidentally put a lot of aluminum foil in the microwave, stop instantly.
Turn off your microwave if it’s on, then remove the foil carefully.
As you’re doing this take care not to touch the sides of the microwave as you may burn your hands.
If you notice any spark, turn off the microwave and the power outlet too.
Ensure that everything inside the microwave gets cool before trying to remove them.
Why Does Aluminum Foil Spark In The Microwave?
If a piece of metal happens to be in the microwave, the electrical charges in it moves around.
A high voltage builds up on a portion of the metal, resulting in spark.
All this is as a result of the breakdown voltage of the air being surpassed.
Can The Foil Catch On Fire In The Oven?
Aluminum foil cannot catch fire in an oven as the temperature never becomes too hot.
Ovens work by creating heat, unlike microwaves which work by creating radio waves.
Don’t attempt to put foil in an oven broiler or a self-cleaning oven, otherwise the temperatures will be too high.
This will result in your foil catching fire in case you leave it inside the microwave for long.
Aluminum foil melting point is approximately 349 degrees Celsius. This is even much higher than the maximum settings on your oven.
Different Types of Aluminum Foil Cookware
You may have seen at least one or more types of aluminum cookware products, maybe in a bakery or in a supermarket.
Below are some of the common aluminum foil baking or cooking items, that are considered disposable;
- Pie plates
- Roasting pans
- Bread loaf tins
- Cake pans
- Steam table pans
So, are these microwavable? At some point yes, at some point no.
It is all different from one manufacturer to another.
Substitutes For Aluminum Foil In The Microwave
To dodge from the risks that comes with microwaving aluminum, you can choose to use one of the following;
- Silicone Baking Sheet
Lots of kitchen utensils are made of silicone. These baking sheets are safe to microwave.
They are also nonstick, therefore, easy to clean after use.
- Baking Tray
There are a variety of microwave-safe trays from which you can choose from.
Actually, the thick metal sheets are able to withstand electric fields in the microwave.
You can as well use metal trays so long as you remember to follow instructions.
- Plastic Wrap
Plastic wraps are often labeled microwave-safe.
If you want to cover your food to preserve moisture while microwaving, go for plastic wrap instead of aluminum foil.
Water in food creates hot steam during heating, which can cause burn.
That’s exactly not what you’d want. You need to do away with steam.
- Parchment Paper
Although it’s not advisable to use papers in the microwave, parchment papers are an exception.
Parchment paper is heat resistant and is of high density, hence safe to microwave.
Some say butcher paper can be used as a substitute for parchment paper.
But note that butcher papers are not safe for microwave use.
The Bottom Line
To sum it up, microwaving aluminum foil is actually safe. But only if you take certain precautions.
Always use new, smooth foil and wrap it well around your food.
Remember to switch off the microwave immediately if there are sparks.