Considered to be one of the most commonly used materials, stainless steel containers can be as versatile as they are useful. If you have ever wondered if it was feasible to put stainless steel utensils in a microwave, whether it is for reheating and defrosting or for cooking, then you have landed in the right place.
Although microwave is regarded as the ultimate meal prepping tool, sometimes, it can get tricky determining microwave-safe symbols on certain materials. If you introduce a non-microwave safe or a metal utensil inside the oven, you may even witness lightning sparks.
So in short, can you really put stainless steel in the microwave? Read on to find out what most people ask about microwaving food in stainless steel containers and the ways around that.
Can you put stainless steel in the microwave?
No, it is not safe to microwave any stainless steel utensil because most metals are not microwave-safe. Stainless steel usually reflects the microwaves instead of absorbing them, and this results in sparks and may become a potential fire hazard.
What’s more, is that not only is it risky to microwave food in stainless steel containers, but sometimes it may even alter and change the texture and flavor of food. Besides, an ignition may burn the food and make it inedible.
In addition to this, a stainless steel object must not be put too close to the metal walls of the microwave. This may cause significant sparking, and cause some serious damage to your microwave, and potentially even break out a fire.
Can you microwave stainless steel lunch box?
Not only is there no use in microwaving a stainless steel lunch box, but there is a potential fire hazard attached to it as well. Stainless steel may cause fires, and sometimes even an explosion if used incorrectly in a microwave oven. As it is a form of metal, it does not allow the waves to travel inside and instead reflects them away.
Having no direct contact, the food remains untouched by by heat. However, with the microwaves getting deflected, they may accumulate inside the oven and cause a sudden and a huge explosion. Even without an explosion, chances are it will damage the insides of your appliance and hamper its proper functioning in the future.
What happens if you microwave stainless steel?
To understand what happens if stainless steel is microwaved, you need to understand how the microwave usually functions. It heats up the food by vibrating the water molecules present in it which in turn causes friction, thereby generating heat.
With plastic, ceramic, glass and certain metals this is not an issue as heat does not absorb into it as there is no direct contact. However, stainless steel is known to reflect the waves. Even a thin sheet of this material gets heated up too quickly as the electrons get pulled by the microwaves and this may start a serious fire.
Why steel is not used in microwave?
It is often commonly heard that stainless steel explodes when put inside a microwave oven. This is not entirely a lie and there is a chance that this may happen to you. Most round metal objects, such as a spoon or a coin will not explode inside a microwave however, items like nails or twist ties do have a potential chance of catching fire or causing an explosion.
Stainless steel, like normal steel, is no different from the other types of metal except that it is covered in chromium. Like all other metals, it deflects and reflects the waves inside a microwave oven. However, a flatter piece of stainless steel is unlikely to cause a fire and damage but items like forks and pans may.
Although ironical, larger metal objects have lesser chance of causing an explosion than smaller objects do. Travel mugs are usually made of steel and you may want to heat up your drink. Refrain from doing so as not only will this be useless, as the microwaves will be unable to reach the drink, but you will risk damaging your microwave permanently.
What kind of metal can you put in a microwave?
A general rule that you must keep in mind is that you should not introduce any metal and especially, stainless steel in microwave if you are not totally convinced that it is safe for use. Make sure to read any instructions that may come as part of the user manual of the microwave oven as well as the label of the utensil you want to heat the food in.
Although most metals are unsuitable for use inside a microwave, aluminum foil does not fall in the same category. There is no harm in reheating foil packaged food and it is completely safe to do so as the aluminum is present in a small quantity. Unless the aluminum touches any of the sides of the microwave, and lays flat more or less, it is safe to say that it is fit for use.
Having said that, do not heat up any food in it for long periods of time and read through the USDA guidelines to educate yourself on the safety of microwaving certain materials.
Is 304 stainless steel microwave safe?
304 Stainless steel is absolutely not safe to be used in a microwave as this grade of stainless steel is known to contain both chromium and nickel. Although this material is highly useful in prepping and handling of food, it is not deemed to be microwave safe.
The material is highly resistant to heat and does not corrode easily. Instead of using 304 stainless steel equipment in defrosting, reheating or cooking food inside the microwave, use it in during the food prep stage. Additionally, it is also suitable to store food and to be dined in, but it may have serious consequences if brought in contact with the microwave oven.
The Bottom Line
The microwave is a wonderful appliance when used correctly to reheat or cook food, but it comes with certain limitations as well. Stainless steel is one such material that is not safe to be used in a microwave oven, as is the case for most other metals. However, even if you put such an object in the oven and it does not cause any trouble, make sure to not repeat this again and take out the object as soon as you can.
Avoid dangerous situations and prevent them from happening. Whether you need to reheat a cup of coffee or to grill chicken inside the oven, ensure that you only use microwave safe equipment. When used correctly, you can stay assured that this appliance will be a lifesaver to you and your family.