Styrofoam has been a popular disposable container commonly used for takeout and delivery in the food and beverage industry. Although Styrofoam is used to store and serve leftover food, is it okay to microwave Styrofoam for 30 seconds? Can you microwave styrofoam for 30 seconds?
To give you a simple answer: regular Styrofoam isn’t completely microwave safe, but microwaving Styrofoam for 30 seconds really depends on factors like power level and material design specs.
The microwave, being one of the most convenient kitchen appliances, is often used to heat and reheat food. But as we all know, not all materials can be heated in the microwave.
The most frequently asked question by people is whether or not it is safe to microwave Styrofoam for 30 seconds. Let’s explore the security ofMicrowave Styrofoam for a short period of time to learn more tips to remember when heating food in the disposable container.
Can Styrofoam be heated in the microwave?
Styrofoam is a synthetic material made from extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam, which is a petroleum-based plastic used to serve and package food and beverages.
Styrofoam can melt and contaminate food with harmful chemicals if the wrong type of material is selected. Only use Styrofoam that is labeled microwave safe when heating food in the appliance.
Whether you opt for a take-out meal at a restaurant or a counter-service cafeteria, you may get your food or drinks in a Styrofoam container.
Styrofoam boxes or cups are commonly used for:
- takeaway food
- Street food on plates
- Cup of coffee
- cup noodle container
Most of the time, we take these foods and drinks home and reheat them before consuming them. But is it safe to microwave food or drinks served in Styrofoam, even for just 30 seconds?
Is it safe to reheat food in styrofoam for 30 seconds?
While it’s best to avoid microwaving Styrofoam as much as possible, there are a few instances where you can. There are some situations where you can use Styrofoam in the microwave to heat or reheat food and drinks.
First, look for the microwave-safe label (if there is one). Some of the Styrofoam containers are actually microwave safe and the label will mention that.
These containers have been tested and can easily be used to heat and reheat food or drinks.
Microwaveable Styrofoam containers are designed in such a way that they can greatly limit the release of toxins. These containers are FDA approved and will have a label stating the same.
Second, there are some untreated Styrofoam containers that can release toxins when heated and the temperature reaches between 392 and 435 degrees Fahrenheit (200 and 224 degrees Celsius). Toxins can be really harmful to health as they can leach into food or drink.
Therefore, it is safe to microwave Styrofoam for 30 seconds or less for minimal heating. Stick with Microwaveable Styrofoam Containers on medium power level and should not cause any damage to the Styrofoam.
What happens when you microwave food in Styrofoam?
Basically, there are two types of Styrofoam available on the market, traditional and microwaveable. So what actually happens to food that is microwaved in Styrofoam containers?
One is the traditional way that is made up of polystyrene. According to studies, it has been seen that heating this regular form of Styrofoam can release harmful toxic compounds like benzene and styrene that can cause severe damage to your reproductive system and potentially cause cancer.
While the second type of Styrofoam is a newer version and is not like the traditional product. It is made from much safer materials that are designed to withstand heat more efficiently and effectively.
If your coffee cups, noodle containers, or plates are made from this form of Styrofoam, you can use it for heating and reheating. but make sure you use medium power and do not exceed more than 30 seconds to reheat food or drinks, as that can have a harmful impact.
Since Styrofoam is a foam-finished variant of plastic, overheating can lead to the release of hazardous substances, as mentioned above. These chemicals can trigger different health conditions in people, including digestive problems, vision problems, reproductive system failure, and even cancerous symptoms can be found.
However, you should know some of the important tips before you go ahead and heat any Styrofoam container in the microwave, even if it’s just for a few seconds at a time.
Tips for Microwaving Styrofoam for 30 Seconds
If you frequently microwave Styrofoam cups and plates in the microwave, then you need to be aware of some of the safety tips. As mentioned above, this material has been shown to be toxic if proper care is not taken when reheating food or beverages.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when microwaving Styrofoam:
- look for the label: Don’t forget to check the label to confirm that the styrofoam is microwaveable or a disclaimer for not using in the microwave. Most of the time, the manufacturer will provide you with a warning or label to let you know if the container is safe to microwave or not.
- Do Not Overheat: As stated above, it is very important to check that you are not overheating the Styrofoam. Sure you can microwave Styrofoam for 30 seconds, but no more than that.
If the temperature of the material reaches 200 degrees Celsius or higher, the Styrofoam will begin to melt, releasing toxic chemicals that can leach into food and make it extremely unhealthy.
- Make sure it can take the heat: The traditional form of Styrofoam is more vulnerable to heat and can release harmful toxins much faster. On the other hand, the newer version of microwaveable Styrofoam is made from a far superior material with a reduced concentration of hazardous substances, making it more resistant to heat.
- FDA Approved or Not: To guarantee or confirm whether the Styrofoam is safe or not, check the FDA approved label on the bottom of the Styrofoam container. If the material passes strict FDA evaluation, the product can be used in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Ventilation can make cooking safer: Many people like to cover all their food to prevent it from getting dirty during the heating process. Although this may prevent future cleaning, it can be detrimental. Not leaving a small opening for steam to escape from the Styrofoam container can cause overheating. Therefore, allow space for ventilation of heat and steam.
Microwave Styrofoam for 30 seconds: Final thoughts
It’s pretty self-explanatory that you can microwave Styrofoam for 30 seconds, but not more than that. From now on, any time you put a Styrofoam cup, bowl, or plate in the microwave, it’s important to make sure it’s FDA-cleared and microwave-safe.
Stick to microwave-safe Styrofoam and don’t try to heat traditional Styrofoam that isn’t designed for heating. When using regular styrofoam, then don’t overheat by any means!
Always make sure the lid is open or has a small opening to vent the steam. The ideal duration to heat a cup of coffee or food in a Styrofoam container is 15 to 30 seconds on medium power level.
Although some forms of Styrofoam can be safely used in the microwave, it is still recommended to transfer food to one of the best microwave-safe containers. Reduce your overall risk of exposure to harmful chemicals you don’t want inside your food.