Can You Microwave Styrofoam?

Q: Styrofoam is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to keep things sterile, as an insulation material in building, or a packing material in trading and manufacturing goods. Yesterday you bought a new gadget packed in styrofoam, and now you are about to microwave that piece of meat from the restaurant in a foam food container. Wait a minute. Can you really do that?

Is It Safe to Microwave Styrofoam?

First of all, you need to think logically and try to discover what that food package is made of. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is styrofoam?
  • Does it have any marking at the bottom?
  • Is it friendly for the low or high temperature?
  • Am I safe eating food from a polystyrene container?
  • Is the styrofoam used in building the same as it is for food packaging?

Don’t experiment with your chicken and microwave, until you get to know that you are allowed to heat up the polystyrene package.

A brand named Styrofoam is actually an EPS material (expanded polystyrene plastic.) It was invented accidentally by laboratory workers. So experimenting is often good.

Since then, it’s been widely used as a packaging material which keeps many fragile things like vases, bottles, TV displays, smartphones, kitchen appliances, or eggs unbroken.

What is more, styrofoam is very light, strong and moisture-resistant.

If you ask about safety, the answer is, unfortunately not.

Styrofoam material is not eco-friendly. Along with its versatility and the possibility of widespread use, this material does not deserve high estimates for the preservation of the environment.

There are different types of styrofoam and some of the things made of this material are really microwaveable.

At least, some official articles read that it’s quite safe to microwave food that goes in the polystyrene package. But you better be cautious.

The good news is that there are two types of styrofoam, one of which can be put in a microwave if only it has a relevant marking.

So keep calm and look for the sign which says that the foam package won’t melt and the food can be put in the microwave as is.

Can I Microwave Leftovers in Styrofoam?

As a matter of fact yes, you can. Again, reassure that the type of the polystyrene that you use to heat leaftovers or any other meal, is the one that is not prohibited to place in the microwave.

Actually, it’s not recommended to use the foam package to heat food and you should for no reason use it for cooking. Prolonged heating of the styrofoam package causes release of toxins.

Polystyrene is said to start melting at around 200 degrees Celsius, when its contents heat up to that point. So you need to stop yourself from boiling products in this container.

The styrofoam itself is not likely to melt when microwaved, but if you put something fatty that can be heat up higher than 150 degrees, the container will probably start melting.

Also, the food temperature differs from the styrofoam package temperature. Try the food itself to check if it’s warm enough.

How to Know that I Can Microwave Food in a Styrofoam Box?

There are just a few things you need to check before you put a piece of meat in a polystyrene container to the microwave.

  • Use the original styrofoam package which contained your food when you bought it
  • Don’t place meat or leftovers in any other styrofoam form that you find in the household
  • Look at the label. It must read ‘microwave safe’ or ‘micro’  or have the ‘warm waves’ symbol
  • Do not microwave food for too long. Something between a few seconds and 1 minute would do

Summing up, some of the styrofoam containers are safe to put in the microwave while others are not.

If you have any doubts and a ceramic or a glass bowl for microwaving at hand, give them preference.

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