Microwaving Ziploc Containers: All You Need To Know

Microwaves are a beautiful invention that allows people to be able to reheat containers of food. This is usually a safe process as long as the container is considered microwave-safe. Ziploc is one of the companies that make food storage containers, and it is important to understand whether a person needs to remove the food from the container or not before reheating it.

It is safe and reasonable to microwave Ziploc containers. These types of containers are safe for the microwave because they are made with heat-resistant plastic like polyethylene plastic. Materials that are of this kind of plastic are tested and approved by the FDA to be safe for food use.

This is a simple summary of why Ziploc containers are safe to microwave. However, there is so much to consider when discussing the potential of microwaving Ziploc bags and containers. Some of these include why the containers and bags are safe to microwave, how to tell if the specific Ziploc product is safe to microwave, how to microwave these products safely, if these containers are reusable, and how to handle the containers after they have been microwaved.

Why it is Safe to Microwave Ziploc Containers

There are a few different reasons why it is safe to microwave Ziploc containers and bags. The main overview is that the products are taken and tested by the Food and Drug Administration. This administration is in charge of setting the standard for different food products, food-related products, and drugs. These standards are meant to keep people safe from different illnesses and issues. One of the ways the FDA protects people is by regulating how foods are microwaved.

The FDA tests products that want to market themselves as food and microwave-safe through a variety of tests. Each of these tests looks into whether or not the container will melt at higher temperatures, whether the product becomes toxic when heated up, and assuring that the product meets the regulations and laws of the country. All of these tests have been done on Ziploc products, and the products have passed all of them. That is the only way they could be put on the market and sold.

These products are made out of a specific type of plastic that is considered microwave safe as well. These types of plastics include low-density polyethylene plastic and linear low-density poly-ethyl. These two types of plastic are considered heat safe and can withstand temperatures of 175-300 degrees Celsius.

Types of plastic that are not safe to be heated up in the microwave include polycarbonate and others that have BPA in them. BPA is considered a potential carcinogen, so people need to avoid using plastics with BPA in them. This is especially true for people who are using plastics in the microwave, as it can help release that potential toxin into the food.

Another important thing to note is that microwaves can microwave plastic safely due to the way that the appliance works. Microwaves release microwaves, a type of energy, that heat up the water molecules in a product. The container and other molecules are heated up by conduction. Since only water molecules are heated up, the plastic container does not react to the energy. The food has way more water molecules than the container, so the plastic in Ziploc containers and bags would not be able to reach melting temperatures.

How to Tell if it is Safe to Microwave Specific Ziploc Products

There are a few different ways that people can identify whether or not a Ziploc container or bag is okay to be microwaved. A big thing to look at is the number on the container. Products that are made of plastic often have a number on them that identifies the kind of plastic that is used to make the container. This number also identifies whether a container is safe to be microwaved or not.

For example, it is highly recommended that people do not use containers that have the number 3 on the bottom of them. The number 3 represents a type of plastic that is only food safe on the surface. If this surface is changed due to heat or scratches, the inner material can leak onto food and make the consumer sick.

There are also other numbers on the bottom of plastic containers that mean the plastic is safe for heating food in. These numbers include 1,2,4, and 5. Number 5 is considered the best choice as it represents polypropylene, which has the best reactions to heat. Some of these reactions include not being stained by foods inside and not warping under heat.

Numbers 1, 2, and 4 are also considered microwave safe but are not as common in dishware. Each of these types of plastic is considered microwave safe because they are sturdy and can handle heat when combined with other products. However, there is some concern regarding how safe it is to reheat food inside them. These types of plastic are often used for yogurt containers, butter containers, and other cold food containers.

The best way to identify whether a container is microwave-safe is to look for a microwave-safe mark on the container. Oftentimes, this will look like a squiggly line. If a container has this sticker, the consumer can rest assured that the food will be safe to eat after reheating/heating it up. There are also other numbers on the bottom of plastic containers that mean the plastic is safe for heating food in.

As for Ziploc bags, there are a few different methods that people should employ. This method is examining the product bag and website. Nearly all Ziploc bags are considered safe to microwave. However, people should be aware that bags made of polyvinyl chloride can become poisonous upon heating. People should be aware of whether or not the bags they are using contain polyvinyl chloride and act accordingly. Regardless of the plastic, it is also unsafe to heat a bag up for more than two minutes at a time.

How to Microwave Ziploc Products Safely

Microwaving a Ziploc product requires a few different steps to be considered safe. There are also some big differences between using a microwave to heat up food in a Ziploc bag versus a Ziploc container.

Ziploc Bag

Ziploc bags have some additional concerns that people need to be aware of to avoid issues with the microwave. One of the biggest fears with heating up a Ziploc bag is that the food or liquid inside will get superheated. When foods get superheated, they are heated unevenly. This uneven heat can cause trapped steam which will cause explosions in microwaves. It can also explode when a person opens the bag. Burns are a major concern, so there are a few preventative measures people can take.

The first preventive method is to have the bag unzipped at least 1 inch. This gap can allow the steam a safe way to escape before someone grabs the bag. It also might promote more even cooking. It is also a helpful idea to put bags of mostly liquid foods in a microwave-safe bowl to reduce spilling. Stir the food every 30 seconds or so to promote even heating.

There are also some good signs that people should not eat food heated in a Ziploc bag. These include any kind of damage to the bag. If the bag looks like it melted, it might have leaked hazardous materials into the food. Another important tip is to not use Ziploc bags to cook food from the start. It is not safe to use a Ziploc bag to cook meats or veggies, only to reheat already cooked foods.

Ziploc Container

Ziploc containers are able to be heated with little issue. After making sure the specific product is microwave-safe, it is best to follow common microwave safety. Some of these include popping a corner of the container to reduce overheating and trapping in steam. Another good idea is to stir the food every minute or so. Once the food is done reheating, the food should be removed carefully from the microwave and given time to cool down.

Beyond classic Ziploc containers, the company has recently released containers specifically designed to be oven-safe, microwave-safe, and freezer safe. These are also reusable. This type of container is a great purchase for those who want an all-purpose dish that will not melt in extreme heat or break in severe cold.

Are Ziploc Containers Reusable?

Ziploc containers are reusable, as they are made of a much more durable material than Ziploc bags. Some people keep containers for several years until they have been damaged or started to become stained. Others find that over time they lose the lids, or the lids don’t fit properly anymore. When either of these things is the case, it is recommended that people should consider getting new containers. Here are a few other recommendations for Ziploc maintenance.

  • Ziploc containers are good to use as long as the container is in good condition. Some people even pass it down to their children when they move out.
  • Avoid direct heat or flame.
  • Avoid cutting the food in the container. Cut the food on a cutting board or a more solid surface.
  • Avoid leaving containers in the sunlight to reduce warping or fading.

As for Ziploc bags, their reusability is debatable. I have had friends who wash Ziploc bags in the dishwasher without batting an eye. Others would cringe at the idea and fear getting sick. There are many different rules and suggestions surrounding reusing Ziploc bags. Some of them include the following list.

  • Ziploc bags are not dishwasher safe. It is best to hand wash and thoroughly dry between uses.
  • Bags should only be used for similar purposes. If a Ziploc bag has been used for a type of meat, it should not be used for veggies next time to avoid cross-contamination. The same is true for foods that could cause an allergic reaction.
  • Do not use a bag that is ripped or thinning.

By following these tips and recommendations, people can feel more confident in how long they can reuse the container.

How to Handle Ziploc Products that Have Been Microwaved

After a Ziploc product is microwaved, there are a few different steps a conscious consumer can take to be able to reuse them again and again.

The first thing is to consume reheated or defrosted food. People can choose to eat the food out of the container if they so choose. They can also remove the food from the container onto a plate to eat or into a pan to finish cooking. After that, they should rinse out the container. People can handwash either product, but plastic containers can also be washed in the dishwasher. After washing, both products should be dried thoroughly. Once the Ziploc container has been used for many years, the best option is to try and recycle the container.

After the products are dried, the process of making the product able to be reused differs. Plastic Ziploc containers can be put in a cabinet or a drawer with a matching lid. For Ziploc bags, the process can be more complicated. It is safest for consumers to label each of the bags with a general description of what they previously contained. Usually, it is good enough to say what food group it contained like “Vegetables” or “Meat”. Doing this helps avoid cross-contamination.

This can be especially important when considering a household and whether or not they have allergies. If someone has an allergy to seafood, it would be best to mark it and not put food that household members will want in the bag. After that, a consumer needs to find a good place to store the bags until later use. People can use drawers, the original Ziploc bag container, or other storage containers to help keep all the bags in one place. Once all of these steps have been taken, the bag or container is able to be used again. After the bag has been used a few times, the best idea is to throw it away or to try and recycle it.

With each of these topics in mind, you will feel much more confident and capable of microwaving Ziploc products safely and efficiently. You can also take pride in being economical and using fewer dishes in the long run.