Pick up any plastic container and you’ll see a number indicating the kind of plastic it is at the bottom. This number ranges from 1 to 7, reflecting the 7 kinds of plastic you can find today. The most common number you’ll find on most plastic containers is #05.
But is it safe and stable enough to put in a microwave? Will it melt or warp when subjected to heat? Can you heat it for long durations without worrying about chemicals leaching into your food?
In this article, I answer all of these questions, so continue reading!
Can you microwave 5 plastic?
Yes, you can microwave 5 plastic. Type 5 is basically polypropylene, which is considered the safest to use in the microwave. It is heat-resistant and stays sturdy even when heated. Plus, it stays cool even after being heated, while other types become hot or wrap or melt when they are subjected to heat.
5 plastic or polypropylene is usually labeled microwave-safe. It is quite sturdy and stays clear even if you put tomato sauce in it. And it doesn’t heat up when it is microwaved.
However, you should keep in mind that all plastics contain petroleum. So regardless of the kind of plastic you have, high temperatures can cause the chemicals to leach into your food or drink. So when the plastic starts to show any signs of wear or melting, there’s a higher chance of damage. If this happens, you should stop using the container in the microwave.
Is it safe to microwave 5 plastic?
Yes, it is safe to microwave 5 plastic. Since polypropylene is resistant to both cold and heat, it is safe to put in the microwave.
People usually refrain from microwaving plastic because it contains plasticizer substances. One compound that has particularly become a cause of concern is BPA since it is quite harmful to the body.
However, 5 plastic is safe to nuke. It is also recyclable and the process of recycling is cost-effective and simple. But what makes it particularly safe is that it is hard and can tolerate extreme freezing as well as extreme heating.
How do you know if 5 plastic is microwave-safe?
It’s very easy to know if 5 plastic is microwave-safe. Just take a look at the bottom of the container for a microwave-safe symbol or label, or even a #5. Number 5 means that the plastic is made using polypropylene, which is safe to microwave.
Plastics come with recycling codes that make it easy to understand what kind it is and whether it is safe to put in the microwave. These codes also tell you the type of plastic used to make the container.
Apart from #5 plastic, CPET, #1 is also microwave-safe and is commonly used at home. CPET refers to plastics that can withstand high heat. Meanwhile, #1, #7, and APET (E) plastics are not safe to use in the microwave.
If you can’t find any code, look for a microwave-safe symbol. This will be a microwave with three squiggly lines inside it. In some cases, it might just be three squiggly lines on top of a dish. If there’s no symbol, look for words like ‘microwave-safe’ or ‘safe for microwave use.’
If there are no symbols or labels, you can do a quick and easy test. Take a container with some water and microwave it for 30 seconds. If it is hot once the time is up, it’s not safe for microwaving.
Which plastics are microwave-safe?
High-density polyethylene or #2 plastic is considered the safest option. Apart from #5 and #2, #4 is also considerably microwave-safe. Meanwhile, #3 PVC, #6 polystyrene, and #7 polycarbonate are not considered microwave-safe.
It is generally recommended to microwave only BPA-free plastics. These are used to make things like bottles, plastic bags, toys, and jugs.
Meanwhile, plastics not safe for the microwave like PVC, polycarbonate, and polystyrene, can leach BPA into the food, making it dangerous to consume. And since they’re not too resistant to extreme heating and freezing temperatures, they can disfigure, warp, or melt as well.
To prevent that from happening, always make sure to double-check the kind of plastic you have and go through the manufacturer’s instructions when microwaving.
Tips for microwaving 5 plastic
Even though it is safe to microwave 5 plastic, here are some tips that can ensure you don’t put yourself or your food at risk:
- Never use high power when microwaving plastic, even if it is #5. Remember, you should only defrost or reheat in the microwave using plastic, and never cook in it. This is why you should only set the microwave on low or medium power when nuking plastic.
- Make sure you never heat plastic for an extended period. Generally, it’s best to only microwave for 3 minutes at most. Otherwise, the box can start to disfigure.
- Never leave the hot food in its plastic container once you’re done microwaving it. Try to minimize the exposure of hot food to hot plastic, even if you’re using #5 plastic. So if you’re not immediately consuming the food once you take it out of the microwave, I recommend that you transfer it to a glass or ceramic dish.
- Avoid using damaged, warped, chipped, or cracked plastic containers. You should also avoid reheating plastic containers that you’ve heated once. Overusing plastic containers in the microwave also increases the chances of harmful chemicals leaching into your food.
- The best way to make sure your food heats up evenly is to microwave it in short intervals and keep stirring in between. Short durations and constant stirring also cut down the total microwaving time. In turn, this reduces the chances of the plastic melting or leaching harmful chemicals into your food.
Wrapping It Up
You now know #5 plastic is safe to microwave. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful with it. Make sure you don’t nuke it for too long and avoid using it if it is chipped or cracked.
Before you put any kind of plastic in the microwave, make sure to look for recyclable codes that help determine if it’s safe to microwave or not. Remember, types 1, 2, and 4 are microwave-safe while types 3, 6, and 7 aren’t.
With these codes in mind, you will no longer have to guess whether you should put your container in the microwave or not. Happy microwaving!