Can you microwave Ziploc Containers?

Ziploc is a popular household brand. They are the manufacturers of Ziploc bags and containers, which are used around the world. 

I love the convenience that Ziploc containers offer for meal prep and food storage. I am also a fan of its diverse product sizes and shapes. 

There are people who extend the use of their Ziploc containers to the microwave, using it to heat food.  But there are concerns about how safe this is because of its plastic composition. 

The Ziploc brand has stated on its website that its bags and containers are microwave-safe and meet all safety requirements of the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However,  there are ongoing conversations about possible risks when it comes to using plastic containers in the microwave.  

If you are unsure about using your Ziploc containers in the microwave, then this article is for you, as I share extensively all necessary information on this subject.

What are Ziploc containers made of?

Ziploc containers are made with polypropylene, a chemical compound commonly used in ‘microwave-safe’ plastic. 

Polypropylene, also known as recycling #5, has a high melting point which makes it the safest when it comes to microwave use.

A major element that makes Ziploc containers safe for the microwave compared to standard plastic containers is that they are Bisphenol-A (BPA) free. BPA is a chemical compound that has been linked to a specific category of prostate cancer.  

Ziploc containers are also free of Dixion, another harmful chemical associated with the production of cancerous cells.

Interestingly, researchers found that manufacturers of plastic containers commonly replace  BPA with bisphenol-S (BPS), which is considered safer because it is highly resistant to leaching compared to its predecessor.  However, BPS has its risks.  

Is it safe to use Ziploc containers in the microwave?

Yes, it is safe to use Ziploc containers in the microwave. These containers have gone through rigorous testing to meet up with the required microwave-safety standards set by the FDA.

Also, Ziploc bags and containers are proven to be free of bisphenol (BPA) and dioxin. Both chemicals are considered to be very harmful when it comes into contact with food. 

Before you use a Ziploc container in the microwave be sure to confirm its safety by checking the container for the microwave-safe stamp. 

Do not assume all plastic containers are microwave safe. Always check for the microwave-safe label.

Ziploc advises users to follow its instructions when using any of its containers in the microwave. One of these instructions is to avoid exposing containers to excessive heat in the microwave because this will warp the plastic.

Ziploc containers should not be used for boiling, cooking, or steaming food, because this will require a temperature level higher than what it is built to handle.

There are other more suitable and safer options to choose from if you are looking to cook or steam your food. The Ziploc brand even has a product called the Zip ‘n’ Steam for all your steaming needs.

How to use Ziploc containers in the microwave?

The manufacturer’s guideline states that Ziploc containers can be used for defrosting and heating food in the microwave.

Ziploc containers are made with Polypropylene, which means it has a high heat threshold. Ziploc containers have a high melting threshold of about  320 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Centigrade). 

That means that any temperature higher than this will result in plastic melting and possibly leaking into the food.  

Most foods reheated in Ziploc containers do not rise above that set temperature. However, food high in fat and sugar requires more heat so it should be checked regularly when in the microwave. 

When heating food in a Ziploc container, keep the lid on to prevent food splatter. Keeping the lid of the Ziploc container on locks in food moisture and prevents your food from drying out.

To avoid steam build-up in the container during the reheating process, place the lid lightly on top of the container. The lid should not be tightly sealed because this will trap the steam causing the plastic to melt or possibly explode.

Another way to avoid steam build-up in a Ziploc container is to open up the vent so steam can escape (if there is no vent, that is not a problem just keep the lid loosely fitted).

How much time should a Ziploc container spend in the microwave?

Time is very important when it comes to using plastic containers in the microwave. And with Ziploc containers, this is no different due to their plastic composition.

How long food is reheated in a Ziploc container is largely dependent on the food.

Some meals may require between 2 to 3 minutes, while others may need a longer time. Whatever the case may be, make sure to check your food at every 1-minute interval. Also stir regularly at each interval check to make sure the food heats evenly. 

If you have frozen food in a Ziploc container, allow time for the food to thaw a bit before putting it in the microwave. This will cut down considerably on time spent in the microwave.

Limited microwave time reduces the danger of overheating the plastic container. This also allows for prolonged use of the plastic container. 

Concerns about using Ziploc containers in the microwave:

Ziploc containers are convenient, portable, and useful for storing food at home or packing meals when you are on the go. However, because of the plastic components of Ziploc containers, there are concerns about their overall safety when used to reheat food in the microwave.

Though they are considered microwave safe, especially when compared to some standard plastic containers out there,  studies have shown that there are health risks when used in the microwave over a period of time. 

A safer alternative overall will be to use a microwave-safe ceramic bowl or glass dish. There is no chance of either of them melting from the microwave heat, or leaking chemical substances into your meal.

If you must use a Ziploc container to reheat food you need to stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines required for safety.

Things to remember when using a Ziploc container:

When it comes to plastic containers, Ziploc containers are one of the safest out there thanks to the rigorous testing it has undergone to meet FDA standards for microwave safety.

But before you pop that Ziploc container into the microwave, below is a summary of key things you need to have in mind.

  1. Ziploc containers are safe to use in the microwave. They are BPA and dioxin free.
  2. Ziploc containers like Ziploc bags are not meant to be used for cooking, boiling, or steaming food.
  3. Do not fill Ziploc containers to the brim. This will cause food to splatter in the microwave during the reheating process
  4.  There is no specific time frame when heating food in a Ziploc container. How long you keep the container in the microwave depends on the food being heated.
  5. Ziploc containers have a high melting threshold of about 320 degrees Farhenint (100 degrees Celcius). Anything higher than this and the plastic will get distorted, melt, and possibly leach chemicals into your food. 
  6. Do not tightly seal the lid when reheating food, this will cause steam build-up inside the container which could cause the plastic to melt. Keep the lid loosely placed on top to allow steam to escape.
  7.  Research has shown that there are possible health risks involved when plastic containers are used to reheat food continuously over an extended period of time.

Wrapping up:

If you choose to use Ziploc containers in your microwave, then be sure to keep all instructions and guidelines to avoid possible risks. Finally, although Ziploc containers are reusable, I will not advise you to use any that has been used extensively or has been damaged in any way.

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