Ah, the red Solo cup! The most iconic representation of American culture in movies, college parties, and TV shows. It’s the convenience of using a disposable cup that makes these Solo cups so popular everywhere.
But are these cups really an all-rounder? Is there more than what meets the eye for the good ól Solo cup? Can you microwave solo cups? This is what you will be learning more about in this blog.
During the cold and bleak winter months, I preferred to take a flask of hot soup with me to work. Sometimes due to the lack of time available for lunch, I used to have my soup on my desk which let’s just say wasn’t as piping hot as it needed to be (clearly I need a new flask that keeps my soup warm for longer, but that’s a story for another day). It was during this time that the idea of microwaving my soup in Solo cups came to mind since they are easily available at my workplace. But what ensued after microwaving them is a different story altogether, something that I will always remember now.
Curious to find out what I learned? Read on to find out….
Can you microwave a solo cup?
No, you can’t microwave a solo cup. The most significant reason is that since the cup is made from plastic, it will start to melt as it heats up in the microwave.
The plastic can also emit toxic fumes as it heats and melts and, worse, leach its toxic chemicals into your drink.
Why shouldn’t you microwave a Solo cup?
The simplest reason is that since Solo cups aren’t designed to be used as a heating vessel for food and drinks, they will not be able to withstand the extreme heat they will be exposed to in the microwave.
If you do try to microwave it, you will literally see it shrink and melt from the microwave window. Think about the drink you have inside while your Solo cup transforms from a cup to a melted puddle of plastic.
What would happen if you did microwave a Solo cup?
Ok, going all the way, are we? Well, in a nutshell, if you do decide to continue and try microwaving your Solo cup, here are a few scenarios that might happen.
- You may have to spend the time you thought you could “save” (by heating your drink in the microwave) cleaning out melted plastic from your microwave. What’s worse is the liquid from the cup will be mixed in with the plastic. Quite a mess indeed.
- You may even end up damaging your microwave.
- Even if the plastic didn’t fully melt in the microwave, it might not remain sturdy enough to hold itself up after heating. This means it might collapse on itself as you grab it while taking it out from the microwave, causing some serious burns.
I think it’s always better to err on the side of caution and never place Solo cups in a microwave, even if someone tells you they have successfully done it.
Even if neither of the above three scenarios comes true, the cup still is plastic and the probability of it leeching chemicals into your drink still remains high.
Why is using a Solo cup harmful?
The simplest answer that I could give you for this is that Solo cups are made from plastic. Not only is microwaving food and drink inside plastic containers harmful to health, but it also poses a major problem for the environment as well.
Health-associated risks with using Solo cups:
Since Solo cups are made from plastic, most plastic products contain a chemical called BPA (BisPhenol A).
BPA has become widely recognized as something to watch out for because it has been linked to:
- Increasing blood pressure
- Affecting the human brain and behavior, especially in young children.
Because of this threat of BPA, many manufacturers have decreased or even stopped using BPA in their products in recent years. However, there are still health risks associated with trying to microwave a liquid in plastic.
Environmental risks of using Solo cups:
Now coming to the environmental threat that these Solo cups present. The plastic composition of these cups is quite similar to styrofoam. And we all know that styrofoam isn’t biodegradable or even recyclable.
When you throw your Solo cup away, it spends the rest of eternity in a landfill since it will never decompose. It will also leach toxic chemicals into the surrounding soil. Exposure to these chemicals damages:
- Nervous system
- Reproductive functions.
People who work around landfills especially are at greater risk, as are animals that accidentally ingest the substances.
Apart from that, Solo cups (and other single-use disposable items) play a significant role in the waste problem mainly because they make up a major chunk of the garbage volume produced. Don’t believe me? Just check out the aftermath of any frat party or the stadium after an NFL event, then you can imagine the problem I’m talking about.
What can you do instead of microwaving a Solo cup?
First of all, even if you avoid microwaving your drink in the Solo cup, I still wouldn’t recommend you even transfer your hot drink to the Solo cup for all the reasons mentioned above.
But if you are determined to get a hot cup of coffee or tea, use a microwave-safe mug. Glass and ceramic are always the safest options to use in the microwave.
However, if you frequently find yourself using the microwave to heat up your drinks, you may want to consider buying some microwave-safe disposable cups or even a thermos flask on your next shopping trip.
What are the alternatives to using a Solo cup?
Reusable cups like ceramic and glass are the safest and the most sustainable alternative to using Solo cups.
However, if someone is planning a large party, then not necessarily everyone would have lots of microwave-safe options enough for all the guests.
If you find yourself in such a situation, I would recommend you look into compostable cups. They are made for single-use, yes, but come with the advantage of being compostable after being discarded, unlike plastic Solo cups.
They are easily available on Amazon for a comparable price to Solo cups and in the same size as well.
Can you melt a Solo cup in the oven?
Yes, a Solo cup will melt just as easily in the oven as it would in the microwave because it was never made to withstand heat or hot drinks. So for the same reasons, avoid placing a Solo cup in the microwave.
At what temperature does a Solo cup melt?
Solo cups can easily melt at a temperature of 100-120 degrees Celsius or 212-248 degrees Fahrenheit.
Will hot coffee melt a Solo cup?
It might not. But you should never drink hot beverages out of plastic cups, though.
Are red Solo cups dishwasher-friendly?
If you want to use Solo cups in an environmentally friendly way, instead of throwing them out after a single use try to wash and reuse them.
However, soft plastics with which Solo cups are made, can’t go through the dishwasher. You can still be environmentally smart and reuse them by rinsing them off in the sink.
While Solo cups are a great sturdy cup to use, they are made of plastic and designed as a one-time-use product.
Products like these aren’t intended for hot liquids or being exposed to high heat in microwaves. So it’s also probably not a good idea to store Solo cups anywhere near a heat source, such as a radiator or oven as it might distort their shape.