Can You Microwave Plastic Wrap?

When reheating food in the microwave, many people put a piece of plastic wrap over it. The idea is that the plastic seals in the moisture, ensuring that the food won’t dry out. Of course, there have always been warnings about how unsafe it is to put plastic in the microwave. So, can you microwave plastic wrap?

Assuming that the plastic wrap has been marked as ‘microwave safe’ then you should have no issues putting it in the microwave. However, you’ll want to keep the microwave on a low to medium setting. Under no circumstances should the plastic wrap touch your food.

insurance film
insurance film

Let’s explain. We’ll talk about how you can microwave plastic wrap safely, as well as give you a few alternatives to plastic wrap.

Can You Microwave Plastic Wrap?

You can microwave plastic wrap if it meets the following requirements:

  • The plastic wrap must be labeled as ‘Microwave Safe.’
  • The plastic wrap must not touch the food.
  • You should only heat on a low to medium setting.
  • You shouldn’t heat the plastic wrap for more than 2 minutes.

Under no circumstances should you microwave plastic wrap that has not been marked as ‘microwave safe’. If you do, there is a big chance of it melting or worse, leaking some non-food safe chemicals into your meal.

Even if using microwave-safe plastic wrap, you still don’t want it touching your food. Yes, plastic wrap marked as microwave-safe has a far lower chance of leaking chemicals into your food, but there is still a risk.

By switching the microwave to a low to medium setting, you’ll be lowering the chance of your plastic wrap melting. If plastic wrap melts, throw away your food. It doesn’t matter if that plastic wrap is microwave safe. You don’t want to be chowing down on chunks of melted plastic.

The reason why you are limiting yourself to a two-minute microwave nuke is to lower the risk of the plastic wrap getting too hot. If it gets too hot, it can melt.

How Do You Microwave Plastic Wrap?

heat food
 heat food

Microwaving plastic wrap isn’t too difficult. As we said, if it is marked as ‘microwave safe’, then you’re good to go. Just follow these instructions:

  1. Make sure that the plastic wrap is wrapped tightly around the food container. If it is loose, there is a chance that it could get knocked free, contaminating your food.
  2. Make sure that the plastic wrap is not touching your food. Try to position it a good inch or two above the surface of your food.
  3. Poke some holes in the plastic wrap. This allows steam to escape. You don’t want pressure to build up under the wrap. If it does, even microwave-safe plastic wrap will burn.  
  4. Switch your microwave to a low to medium setting. Don’t have it set to high!
  5. Microwave for 2 minutes.
  6. If your food is not completely reheated in those two minutes, remove the plastic wrap, and add new plastic wrap. Don’t reuse the same wrap.

We do suggest that you always use a fresh piece of plastic wrap. So, if you have stored food in the fridge and covered it with plastic wrap, use a fresh piece before you microwave it. This is because the refrigeration could have damaged the plastic wrap.

Are There Some Foods You Shouldn’t Microwave with Plastic Wrap?

We suggest that you avoid using plastic wrap if you are microwaving foods that are high in fats e.g., cheese, meats, etc.

This is because some of the chemicals in plastic wrap are fat-soluble. This means that if the fat hits those chemicals, they will dissolve. They could potentially leach into the food. The risk is minimal with microwave-safe plastic wrap, but the risk is still there.

If you are looking to microwave fat-heavy foods, then read on. We have a few alternatives.

Can Microwaving Plastic Wrap Harm You?

If the plastic wrap is marked as microwave-safe, then it shouldn’t harm you. However, if you have a non-microwave safe plastic wrap, then chances are high that the wrap will burn or melt. When it does, it will leak toxic chemicals and fumes into your food. It won’t taste nice at all. Oh, and you’ll be putting chemicals inside your body that you really don’t want to be there.

Chances are, you should be fine if you have only done this once or twice. We probably wouldn’t make a regular habit of it, though.

Microwave-safe plastic wrap probably won’t harm you. While there is always a chance that chemicals from the plastic wrap could leak into your food, it isn’t a major issue. All microwave-safe plastic wraps go through extensive testing to ensure that any leaking is within certain parameters.

However, microwave-safe plastic wrap is only safe if it remains ‘intact’. So, any tears, cuts, etc. in the microwave-safe plastic wrap could cause chemicals to leak into your food. So, if you notice any damage to your plastic wrap (outside the few holes that you stick in the top), then don’t use it. Grab yourself a fresh piece of plastic wrap. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

What To Do If Plastic Wrap Touches Your Food?

Honestly? If the plastic wrap is marketed as microwave-safe, then you probably won’t need to worry too much if the plastic wrap touches your food. While there is a chance that some chemicals could end up leaking into your food, it won’t harm you.

The only time we suggest that you ditch the food is if:

  1. You are not using microwave-safe plastic wrap.
  2. The plastic wrap has melted.

Before serving, it may be worth having a quick stir to ensure that no small chunks of plastic have managed to get into the food. Although, the risk of that is very, very low. If there are small chunks of plastic, don’t eat the food.

Alternatives to Plastic Wrap in Microwave

While microwave-safe plastic wrap is fine to microwave, there are some far better options. Ones that not only reduce the risk of chemicals getting into your food but are reusable. This means that you could save a lot of cash while also being healthier.

Some of our favorite options include:

  • Silicone baking sheets
  • Microwave-safe bowls
  • Microwave-safe hard plastic lids.
  • Beeswax lids
  • Microwave-safe fabric bowl covers
  • Parchment paper

All of these, bar the parchment paper, are reusable. We suggest that you only use parchment paper when you have no other choice. It is expensive but, obviously, it has been designed to deal with a huge amount of heat.

When you are microwaving food, you want to ensure that there is space for steam to escape. So, no matter which method you use, leave a very small gap on the side of the container that you are heating. Your food will cook a lot better, and there won’t be condensation sitting on top of it. If the gap is small, the food should remain nice and ‘moist’.

Final Thoughts

If the plastic wrap is advertised as microwave-safe, then you can put it in the microwave. However, it is important that you do not let it touch the food. You should also ensure that it doesn’t get too hot (never microwave plastic wrap at a high heat).

Do bear in mind that even microwave-safe plastic wrap can cause chemicals to leach into the food. Although, it won’t necessarily harm you. Still, we recommend more sustainable alternatives such as silicone baking sheets, microwave-safe plastic lids, etc.


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