Is Stainless Steel Microwave-Safe?

Looking around your kitchen, you will realize that 90% of utensils are made of stainless steel.

Stainless steel utensils are ideal for preparing and storing food but is stainless steel microwave-safe?

Our short write-up today will discuss what happens when you put steel in the microwave.

Is stainless steel microwave-safe?

No. It is counterproductive to microwave any utensil made of stainless steel.

Almost all metals are stereotyped as not microwave-safe, and so is stainless steel. Stainless steel is a type of metal; hence you cannot put it in the microwave.

It is risky to microwave stainless utensils because they can explode, burning your appliance or the entire house.

Metals generally get hot when heated, so microwaved stainless steel will become unbearably hot to handle. Most of the microwaves will bounce back after hitting the metal surface, but a few will definitely heat the metal bowl.

Removing a hot stainless bowl from the microwave with bare hands is dangerous because it can burn you.

Since the stainless steel bowl will reflect heat waves from the appliance, heat waves hardly reach food. Microwaves can only reach food from the top of the stainless steel container.

Food will therefore have unevenly heated spots, which cause severe burns to your mouth and gut.

Microwaved stainless steel tends to also alter food’s initial taste and flavor. Loose metal ions give food a nasty metal-like acidic taste.

The shape and size of the container influence its reaction in the microwave. Is the stainless steel container in question thick or thin, large or small, round or pointed?

Large steel bowls with regular round edges will react less, while tiny steel with sharp edges will most likely explode.

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Can you put stainless steel in the microwave?

Putting stainless steel metal in the microwave is not just ignorance but also recklessness.

You can only put a microwave-safe stainless steel container in the microwave. 

Microwave-safe stainless steel has a safety proof at the bottom of the container. If you are sure about the safety of a container, avoid putting it in the microwave.

Candl Cuistan is a trademark for microwavable stainless steel utensils. Other microwave-proof steel containers are Unifox and silverware stainless steel.

Microwaves that a microwave appliance emits are responsible for heating food.

Metals do not absorb microwaves. Microwaves are reflected upon heating the metal surface.

The back-and-forth reflection of microwaves between the appliance’s walls and the metal surface produces an electric current.

Metals also tend to release loose electrons when heated. The emitted electrons, too, produce an electric current.

A charged electric current can ignite a fire hot enough to raze the appliance or the entire kitchen.

The shape of your stainless steel container influences its microwave safety. Round steel utensils are safer to microwave than sharp utensils with pointed edges.

It would be best not to microwave stainless steel forks, spoons, and plates with trimmed edges. Electric currents tend to concentrate around the pointed edges. 

You can microwave round spoons with short handles under strict precaution.

When microwaving a steel bowl, remove the lid to allow heat waves to reach food from the top.

What happens when you put stainless steel in the microwave?

A smooth-walled steel bowl won’t absorb the microwaves; food doesn’t warm up.

When a few microwaves penetrate the metal surface, food gets partially heated since the appliance’s walls reflect most of the microwaves.

The ions the hot metal releases interfere with the quality of food. The original taste and flavor are lost, and food gains a metal-like acidic taste.

The steel container gets extremely hot when heated for more than 30 seconds. Hot surfaces cause severe burns if mishandled.

In the worst cases, a fire might light up, damaging the entire oven or the kitchen—fire results from charged electric current produced by loose metal electrons and microwaves.

Safety tips to consider should you put stainless steel in the microwave.

  • Ensure the stainless steel container has a microwave-safe label. Please use an alternative method to heat your food or a conventional heating method if you are unsure about the safety.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s step-by-step guide on microwaving stainless steel and observe the safety measures.
  • The stainless steel plate must be round without trims on its edges. Avoid putting thin sheets of stainless steel with irregular surfaces in the microwave.
  • Set the temperature level and maintain it at a minimum. High temperatures excite loose metal ions causing them to move rapidly in the microwave.
  • Strictly set a 30-second timer if you must heat stainless steel in the microwave, whether the container is microwave-safe or unsafe.
  • Extending the heating time escalates the microwave temperature, and high temperatures make the metal bowl explode. If you must heat for a long, pause the appliance at an interval of 15 seconds to counter heat build-up.
  • Check the wattage of your microwave appliance. You should avoid putting metals in high wattage to avoid explosions.
  • The stainless steel should not touch the appliance’s walls if microwaved; otherwise, it will cause an electric arc that causes fire.
  • The stainless steel utensil should lay flat on the appliance and away from the walls. The steel packaging sheet should not be wrinkled or cracked.
  • Use microwave-safe oven gloves to remove hot stainless steel containers from the appliance.

What are the alternatives for microwaving stainless steel?

Microwaving steel should be the last option, however safe the container appears.

It might not cause fire, but you won’t like the results. You can choose any of the following alternatives that guarantee better results.

Transfer food to a microwavable container. If your take-out food arrives cold and wrapped in stainless steel packaging, transfer food to a microwave-safe plate before you hear it.

Ceramic bowls and glass kitchenware are ideal and microwave-safe.

Yogurt and other plastic containers are microwave-unsafe, no matter how convenient they are. Plastic releases poisonous BPA chemicals into your food.

You can place the steel container on a conventional cooking oven or stove and heat it for a few minutes.

You can wrap the stainless steel packaging container with an electric blanket and press the power button. It is a slow but incredibly effective method to heat your food.

Leave your food to heat for a few minutes, then switch off the power button.


What kind of metal can you put in the microwave?

The rule of thumb is that no metal should go in the microwave. Metals explode under high microwave heat.

Not all metals are microwave-unsafe, though. Some metals can be microwaved without any ill consequences.

Some thin sheets of metals have proven to protect the microwave from potential damage when laid flat on the appliance without touching its walls.

Look for a microwave-safe symbol at the bottom of the metal container to know if a metal is microwave-safe. Three wavy bolded lines usually represent the microwave symbol.

Aluminum foil, too, can be microwaved though under strict monitoring. Only a few sheets of aluminum are allowed into the oven at a go under relatively low temperatures.

Avoid metals with pointed edges, such as knives and forks. Electric charge concentrates around the sharp edges and causes fire.

Rusty metals, too,  leach toxins into your food.

Is 304 stainless steel microwave safe?

304, just like any other metal, is not safe for microwave use.

It contains both nickel and chromium metals which are heat-resistant. 304 might not explode when heated since it’s a thick material, but heat waves don’t penetrate its walls.

304 stainless steel utensils are ideal for storing, preparing, and serving food but inconvenient for cooking or reheating.

Which are the things you should never put in the microwave?

Ignorance is no defense; you need to know what goes in a microwave and what is forbidden.

Some items will explode in the microwave or leach harmful toxins into your food.

You should never microwave any of the following items; else you won’t like the repercussions:

  • Plastic storage bags
  • Take-out containers
  • Brown bags
  • Metal containers
  • Styrofoam boiled eggs
  • Containers with trimmed/ pointed edges
  • Hot pepper

Final Thoughts

Putting stainless steel in the microwave is not recommended unless it has a microwave-safe label.

Stainless steel does not allow microwaves to penetrate its walls; hence food will not heat as desired.

Thin sheets of steel with irregular edges are likely to explode when heated; so do not use such in the microwave.

The ions released from hot steel also alter the taste of your food.

You should consider other heating methods than the risk of putting steel in the microwave.

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