Can you microwave styrofoam?

Medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D., Nutrition — By Ryan Raman, MS, RD on January 7, 2020

Microwaves have been around for decades và are known for making kitchen work — namely heating food — much simpler than it was in the past.

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However, due to health concerns, you may wonder what types of containers are best when it comes lớn microwaving your foods & beverages.

This article review whether you can microwave styrofoam, if doing so is safe, và precautions you can take.

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Styrofoam is a term that’s trademarked by The Dow Chemical Company. It refers lớn a type of polystyrene foam that’s commonly used in the building industry (1).

However, in some countries, such as the United States and Canada, the term is often incorrectly used to refer to a type of expanded polystyrene foam that is injected into molds lớn make disposable take-out containers, plates, coffee cups, and packaging peanuts (2, 3).

These containers are popular because they’re cheap & act as a good insulator, meaning they keep foods and beverages warm.

Though polystyrene containers were popular in the past, they have slowly been banned in several cities in the United States, such as San Francisco và Seattle, due to lớn environmental and potential health concerns (4).

Environmentally, the containers bởi not decompose easily & are difficult to lớn recycle. Also, animals may mistake them for food và eat them (3, 5, 6).

From a health perspective, they contain a compound called styrene, which has raised some concern, as it has been linked lớn cancers in animal and human studies (7).


Styrofoam is incorrectly used to lớn refer to lớn polystyrene foam containers that are commonly used to serve warm beverages & food.

Can you microwave styrofoam?

There is some concern about microwaving polystyrene foam containers.

One key reason is that they contain a compound called styrene, which human và animal studies have linked to cancer (7, 8, 9).

In addition, when foods or beverages are microwaved in containers made from polystyrene or plastic, substances used in manufacturing may leak into the food. This especially applies to fatty foods, such as meats & cheeses (10).

However, it’s important to chú ý that the Food và Drug Administration (FDA) regulates plastic và polystyrene containers, cups, và plates và tests their safety và use in microwave ovens (11).

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That means any polystyrene or plastic products that have the microwave-safe label have been tested for safety in the microwave.

On the other hand, avoid microwaving food in polystyrene containers that are not labeled as microwave safe, as their safety is not assured. This precaution is not specific lớn microwaves & also applies to other heating methods.


You can microwave foods or beverages in polystyrene containers that are labeled microwave-safe. Conversely, avoid putting polystyrene containers without microwave-safe labels in the microwave.

How khổng lồ safely heat food

If you are concerned about heating food in a polystyrene container, here are some tips to lớn help you microwave food safely:

Use a microwave-safe container. If you are using a styrofoam container, check to see if it has a microwave-safe label.Transfer food to ceramic or glass before microwaving. Alternatively, transfer the food into a ceramic, glass, or pyrex container before heating.Use the stove or an oven. Another way lớn avoid any potential risks is to lớn transfer the food into a pot or pan khổng lồ heat on the stovetop, or into a baking tray lớn heat in the oven.Check for scratches or cracks. Polystyrene and plastic containers that are old or have scratches or cracks should be disposed of, as they may leach potentially harmful chemicals. Vent the container before heating it. This prevents pressure from forming, causing food inside the container to lớn explode. Carefully remove the container. Use mittens or gloves khổng lồ remove the container after heating khổng lồ avoid burning your hands.Summary

The above tips may help you microwave or reheat your food safely. When microwaving, always use containers that are labeled safe for such use.

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