Can You Put Paper in the Microwave?

You should be sure of the results before nuking anything, for your safety and that of your microwave. Remember, not every material can go into the microwave.

Microwaving a non-microwavable material can cause a fire or, in worse cases, contribute to health complications like cancer. That raises the question, “Can you put paper in the microwave?”

Let’s answer that in detail in this article to help you understand what happens when you microwave paper.

What Happens When You Put Paper in the Microwave?

The answer depends on the thickness of your paper. While it’s perfectly okay to microwave thicker paper, it is risky to put thin ones in the microwave.

When you put a thin piece of paper in the microwave, it can instantly catch fire. This happens even when you microwave paper for a short duration. But thicker paper withstands heat, making it safe to nuke it in the microwave.

But you must check if the paper is coated with any bonding glues or wax coatings before putting it in the microwave. Extreme heat in the microwave can easily melt these coatings and cause them to leach onto foodstuffs.

Additionally, the duration you take to microwave paper should take into account the type of paper you’re using.

While some thick papers can withstand heat in the microwave for an extended time, others may not stand that much heat for long.

Either way, you should limit microwaving paper to the utmost 5 minutes because extreme heating can burn the edges and cause a fire.

You may have wondered whether to microwave the following types of paper:

  • Newspaper: You should not microwave it because it’s thin and can catch a fire. Additionally, it contains ink that may leach into your food and cause health complications.
  • Paper towels: These are safe to put in the microwave. They even minimize the risk of fire by absorbing moisture from food.
  • Parchment paper: The paper is thick and safe to use in the microwave.
  • Tissue paper: These are not safe to use as they contain a very thin material, which catches fire easily under extreme heat.
  • Paper utensils: Paper utensils are made of thick material that doesn’t burn easily. You can use them for a long time in the microwave without catching a fire.
  • Wax paper: Wax papers are safe to use in an oven, so you can microwave them without fearing flame outbursts.

The pro-tip in the microwaving paper is considering its thickness. But it is also advisable to check if the paper contains any ink or waxing.

While fire is an inherent risk, chemical leaching is an even greater health danger you should aim to escape by ensuring you only microwave paper devoid of ink or any waxing.

Tips to Safely Microwave Paper

After determining the criteria for paper safety in the microwave, you must be certain of the surest way to microwave paper safely. Kindly observe the following tips to protect yourself from a fire and chemical leaching when microwaving paper:

  • Set your microwave heat settings at medium or 50% to minimize the risks of a fire that is normally high under extreme heat.
  • Ensure your oven temperatures read the utmost 176 degrees Fahrenheit or 80 degrees C to prevent burning.
  • Always use thick bowls and trays inside the microwave, and remove any tissue papers and napkins surrounding the food to reduce the fire risk.
  • Cover your food with a microwavable cover to reduce cooking time.
  • Always have heat-resistant gloves to avoid burning when removing the food. Touching the paper’s surface in the microwave with bare hands can cause injuries.
  • Never recycle paper containers in the microwave. They get dry and crispy after burning, making it possible for the thick paper to burst into flames when used repeatedly.

Will Paper Catch Fire in the Oven?

The answer depends on the type of paper you intend to microwave. Some types of paper are safe to put in the microwave, but others can burst out into flames instantly when you place them in the microwave.

Thick paper is safe to use in the microwave, while thin paper, like newspaper, can burst into flames within a short duration in the microwave. Thickness is the key consideration when microwaving paper.

Another important factor to consider is whether you’ve used the paper in the microwave before or not. While it’s okay to microwave thick paper, it is risky to microwave paper more than once.

If heated repeatedly, the thick paper gets dry and crispy. This makes it susceptible to burning when used several times in the microwave.

That said, you must get a new paper container any time you plan to microwave it. Never recycle paper containers in the microwave.

Apart from burning, some paper containers may expose you to health complications when exposed to heat in the microwave. These contain paper containers with ink, waxing, or glue bonding.

Can You Put Paper Plates in the Microwave?

You can only microwave a paper plate if it has the “microwave-safe” label. There are some paper plates with the label as a sign, while others have the writing on their surface.

Check for the writing or microwave-safe sign on your paper plate before putting it in the microwave. The sign can be an image of a dish set below radiation waves, a microwave image, or squiggly lines.

That said, you should quit guessing by checking the material of your paper plates. Some paper plates are purely made of paper, while others contain plastic for durability reasons.

However, these features don’t determine the safety of a container in the microwave.

Although it might be tricky to know whether your container is 100% paper, paper plates that are purely made of paper are safe to put in the microwave.

For paper plates with some percentage of plastic coating, their safety in the microwave depends on the kind of plastic they have.

Some plastics are safe to microwave, but others will melt and leach chemicals into your food.

The surest way to know whether your paper plate is safe to use in the microwave is to check for the “microwave-safe” label. But you can also test whether your paper plate is safe to microwave.

How to Test Whether Your Paper is Safe to Microwave

It is easy to test the safety of your paper plate in the microwave if you don’t find the microwave-safe sign. Here’s the step-by-step guide for you:

  1. Fill up a small bowl with water, then place it in the microwave along with the plate you intend to test.
  2. Start the microwave on high power with a timer for 1 minute.
  3. Touch the paper plate carefully after 1 minute so as not to burn yourself.
  4. If your plate is too hot after touching, it has absorbed the microwaves and created heat, so it’s not microwave-safe.

Bottom Line

Microwaving paper can be okay if the material is thick enough to withstand the heat. It is also safe to put paper in the microwave if it contains no glue bonding, waxing, or ink. 

To be certain that your paper container is microwave-safe, look for the safety sign by following the tips given in this article.

You can also follow the testing guide given in this article to confirm whether your paper is microwavable.

Leave a Comment