Can You Microwave Plastic Wrap?

When it comes to microwaves, there is always subconscious questioning as to what is or isn’t safe to heat up. It’s common knowledge to not let your metal utensil go in the microwave, but there’s some grey area regarding plastic. Plastic wrap is used to cover food often, but it’s not always the best idea to heat it up in the microwave.

Plastic wrap can be microwaved if the label says it’s microwave-safe. Since harmful chemicals can be released into the food if it melts, the wrap should stay elevated above the food without touching it. It’s important to use plastic wrap at the proper temperature and power level of the microwave.

Keep reading to learn what you need to know about safely using plastic wrap in the microwave.

Is It Safe to Use Plastic Wrap In the Microwave?

Plastic wrap is okay to heat up in the microwave if it says on the container that it is microwave safe. However, if the container does not say that the plastic wrap is microwave safe, you shouldn’t put it in the microwave.

There are many myths when it comes to plastic wrap in the microwave. For example, some people think it can cause cancer. There has been no scientific evidence that shows that microwaving plastic wrap causes cancer.

This myth exists because dioxins are a cancer-causing chemical, and many plastic items have dioxins. Dioxins are not actually in plastic wraps, but they can form when it’s burning and melting. Basically, plastic films in general are safe to go in the microwave, but if they are burned or melted, they can potentially harm your health.

How Can You Tell if Plastic Wrap is Microwave Safe?

The biggest indicator to tell if your plastic wrap is microwave safe is to check the label first. The FDA has actually recommended only using wraps and containers that are labeled “microwave-safe.” The wraps marked this way are made with high-quality material that can be heated in a microwave without getting very damaged. It’s important to use these kinds because they can handle the heat levels of a microwave. As long as you use a “microwave-safe” plastic wrap and follow certain safety buffers, your health won’t be at risk.

To be the safest you can be, turn down the temperature of the microwave to a medium or low power level. You should also not put high-fat or sugar-dense foods into the microwave with plastic wrap.

Check the label for:

  • It will be labeled “microwave-safe”.
  • It will have an imprinted microwave symbol. It’s usually used in reusable plastic storage containers.
  • Other plastic wraps could include instructions for proper microwave use on their labels.
  • A microwave-safe symbol will usually look like a microwave with some wavy lines on it.
  • if the container has a #5 inside of a recycle symbol, this means it’s made from polypropylene (PP), which is generally microwave-safe.

How do we know what’s actually safe to use?

The FDA strictly regulates all food packaging materials with scientific standards. They regulate the safety of substances that are added to food, including how it’s processed, packaged, and labeled.

The FDA has a whole office made up of chemists, toxicologists, and other knowledgeable scientists. This office evaluates the safety and environmental impact of chemicals used to produce packaging. By using studies and tests, they can figure out the impact of food contact substances on animals and humans. The FDA also goes about tests and studies that have to do with identity, stability, purity, potency, performance, and usefulness.

It’s safe to say that a “microwave-safe” label will be accurate and it’s approved by the FDA. And, if you take note of the precautions listed later, you should be fine.

Precautions to Take When Microwaving Plastic Wrap

When microwaving leftovers, or whatever food it may be, it’s important to do these things:

How Do You Safely Microwave Plastic Wrap?

  • Check the quality of the plastic wrap. Buy one that’s microwave-safe and is made by a reputable brand.
  • Maintain an air gap: As recommended by the FDA, you should not let the plastic wrap actually touch the food. There should be a gap between the wrap and the top layer of the food while it’s being heated in the microwave. To keep the two from touching, you could use a wide or deep bowl and avoid using a flat plate.
  • Have an air vent: Put the plastic wrap loosely over the bowl to allow it to vent steam while it’s being microwaved. Saran plastic (plastic wrap) is airproof, so when you don’t let the heated air escape, the temperature beneath the plastic gets really hot and can put you at risk of the wrap melting.
  • Don’t cover oily foods: Foods that have excess amounts of oil usually get a lot hotter when microwaved. They can get hot enough to melt plastic or plastic wrap.

Why Shouldn’t The Food Touch The Plastic Wrap?

Because of the level of heat the microwave gets, the plastic wrap could melt and mix into your food. It’s even more important to make sure they don’t touch when heating food that is high in fat or oil because most of the suspect chemicals in plastic are fat soluble.

How long can you microwave plastic wrap and at what temperature?

  • The plastic wrap shouldn’t be in the microwave when eating any food that’s higher than 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • For a low power level, the plastic wrap can be left in the microwave for around 20 minutes.
  • For high-temperature levels, don’t use the plastic wrap for any longer than 2 minutes.
  • If you are using a microwave-safe wrap, it’s okay to use the microwave while minimizing heating time and temperature.
  • The melting point of saran wrap is between 220 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep the temperature below this range.

You should try to use ceramic or glass cookware for microwaving if you can, and cover your food with an overturned microwave-safe bowl or plate. That would be the safest option to reheat food.

Microwave-Safe Plastic Wrap Food Brands

You should consider where you get your plastic wrap from before you put it in the microwave with your food. Some of the wraps you might be seeing could potentially contain toxic chemicals like BPA.

Kirkland Stretch-Tite Plastic Film

The Kirkland brand has a superb quality plastic wrap that’s completely safe to use in the microwave. This wrap can with due temperatures from freezer to microwave. The plastic is clear, making it easy to see the food inside. Kirkland has a good reputation in regards to its plastic wrap, which also helps contain moisture in the food and keeps it fresh for longer.

For an average box of this plastic wrap, it costs $15.99. (11 7/8 inch X 750 SQ. FT.)

AEP Zipsafe Sealwrap

This is just a regular brand of plastic wrap that’s microwave-safe, which can be found in most places.

A box of AEP Zipsafe Sealwrap only costs $3.75. (Value Pack – 250 SQ. FT.)

Glad Press’n’Seal

The Glad Press’n’Seal Cling Film is a great plastic wrap that will be safe to microwave. This brand of plastic wrap won’t melt or warp in the microwave and doesn’t contain any BPA, which is a good indicator that it’s made from microwave-safe materials. Aside from the clean materials, it prevents leaking and unwanted air from getting in.

This one is a cheaper option, only costing $4.49 for one box. (23.7 yds. X 12 in.)

Potential Plastic Wrap Alternative: BEE’s Reusable Wrap

This product actually doesn’t include plastic in the materials but has beeswax instead. These beeswax wraps are cloths that are covered in beeswax, which helps the cloth form and stick to various objects. They can be used to cover food that is about to be stored. It can be hand-rinsed with cool water in the sink and mild dish soap then left to air dry. This allows it to be reused as many times as you need. Once its time is done, you can actually compost the wrap or use it as a natural fire starter.

Although this isn’t plastic wrap, it can save you from the worry of having to microwave plastic. This option is completely safe to microwave, as even though the beeswax will likely melt in the microwave, beeswax is edible, and will keep you clear from health risks.

For the Assorted pack of 3, you would pay $18.99. This includes 1 small wrap (7″ X 8″), 1 medium wrap (10″ X 11″), and 1 large wrap (13″ X 14″).

When Should You Avoid Using Plastic Wrap?

If there is any possibility that the plastic wrap somehow got in the food, it’s safer to not eat it. Make sure it’s microwave-safe and made from LDPE before putting it in the microwave.

Avoid using plastic wraps that include BPA, and Bisphenol A. It has been used to manufacture some types of polycarbonate and resin since the 1900s, which is often used in food and beverage containers. BPA can have destructive effects on the brain and prostate gland of fetuses and smaller children.

Is It Safe to Eat Melted Plastic Wrap?

It’s a common concern to wonder if eating melted or burnt plastic wrap will hurt your health or not. Accidents happen and it’s possible that pieces of plastic wrap could end up in your food. An FDA supervisory chemist, Dr. Charles Bredar, says that you shouldn’t worry if this accidentally happens, and you won’t experience harmful effects.

What To Use In a Microwave Instead of Plastic Wrap

If you are storing food, but don’t have plastic wrap or don’t want to use this material, there are different options that will serve the same purpose.

Use a Plate

This is the easiest and simplest option, but it will work for microwaving. Whether you don’t have something to cover your bowl, or you don’t want to microwave plastic wrap, this will do the trick. Just place a microwave-safe plate on top of the bowl you are heating up. This will keep it covered without having to put in much extra effort.

Silicone Suction lid

You can find silicon suction lids easily online through sites like Amazon. They come in all different sizes and colors, giving you a range of options. You basically just put the silicone lid on your bowl, cup, put, etc. The silicone makes an air-tight seal, keeping your food fresh. You just need to make sure the lid is larger than the opening which you are covering.

Most of the time they have handles, and you can lift the bowl to the pot by this handle. Silicone is a safe material that can be put in the microwave, and it’s safer than plastic wrap.

Silicone Stretch Top Lids

These are basically the same things as silicone suction lids. Instead of just resting on top, they wrap around the lid of your bowl, cup, pan, or whatever it might be. This can be handy when the container is taken out from the fridge because it’s less likely to spill with this on.

They can also be used to wrap around small food, like a half-eaten sandwich for example. Silicone stretch top lids are a lot cheaper than plastic wrap, and they last a lot longer. You can also safely heat these up in the microwave with your food.

Microwave Cover

Microwave covers are often still plastic, but they don’t touch your food and are reusable. These do a great job of capturing food splatters and are very affordable. Unlike plastic wrap, microwave covers are a lot more sturdy and won’t sag into your food or warp because of the heat of the microwave.

This waste-free alternative is a better choice that will save you some money and lessen your risk of eating food with harmful chemicals.

Paper Towel

Paper towels do an amazing job at catching food splatters in the microwave, and are a safe way to wrap your food for reheating. You can place a paper towel over your bowl or food and not have to think about it touching your food. If it does, it won’t release bad chemicals into your food.

The downside to paper towels is that they are disposable. You pretty much only get one use out of the paper towel, which requires you to pay for more and contribute to more waste.