It’s quick, easy, and convenient to microwave things, but not everything can safely fit in a microwave. So can you heat plastic cups in the microwave? Can you microwave plastic cups?
Considerations for Microwaving Plastic Cups
Microwaves can safely heat many things, but not all plastics should be used in a microwave. Microwaves use intense heat to heat foods and liquids. This heat can cause dangerous chemicals to leach out of plastics or to melt the plastic itself.
When choosing your mug for the microwave, always make sure to read the labels carefully. Mugs may be labeled “Microwave Safe” or will have specific instructions on the amount of liquid that can go into the mug to make it microwave safe. Old mugs are more likely to be dangerous to microwave.
Thin plastics can melt under microwave heat. Disposable or thin plastic cups may be designed for hot liquids but not for heating. So when these plastics get heated to that extreme, they can’t hold their shape and structure.
You should also be careful about burns when using plastic cups. Plastic cups can get very hot and burn your hands when you try to remove them from the microwave.
Harmful Chemicals in Plastic
Cups BPA and phthalates are used to make plastic stronger or more durable. These chemicals can be very useful when manufacturing products, but can be extremely dangerous when exposed to heat.
BPA (bisphenol A) is most often found in number seven plastics and can leach from containers that food sits in for a long time. Containers like bottled water, canned vegetables, and microwaveable items can end up with BPA in the food or liquid in the container. BPA consumption has been linked to many health problems.
Phthalates are chemicals that make plastics durable and are used in some plastic containers. We do not know the full extent of the effects in humans, so more research is needed. However, it has been shown to affect the reproductive systems of animals.
How do I know if my plastic cup is safe?
One way to tell if your plastic cup is safe to use in the microwave is to look at the label. Some mugs will include whether or not they are microwaveable on the mug. Take these recommendations seriously.
Recycling codes can also be helpful in knowing if your plastic cup is safe to use in the microwave. Recycling codes 2, 4 and 5 are safe to use in the microwave. However, codes 1, 3, 6, and 7 are not microwave safe.
Can you heat plastic cups in the microwave? Well yes and no. Harmful chemicals like phthalates and BPA are used in some plastics and can leach out of the container into your food or liquid. If you are using a plastic cup that contains these chemicals, you should not put it in the microwave. Plastics labeled “microwave safe” are safe to use in the microwave.