Safety Guide 101: Can You Microwave Paper Bowl (2023 Update)

Are paper bowls microwave-safe?

In this article, you will learn:

What types of paper bowls can go in the microwave

How long can a paper bowl be in the microwave?

 How can you tell if a paper bowl is microwave safe?

So if you are looking for an answer to” Can You Microwave a Paper Bowl ?” this guide is for you.

Let’s dive in

What’s Microwave's Working Temperature?

The maximum temperature microwave can achieve while using is around 100o C or 212o.F.

In general, you can microwave Glass, ceramics, plastic, Ziploc bags, and so on

Actually, It is 100% safe to microwave paper-type products such as Paper towels, wax paper, and parchment paper.

But, How about the paper bowl or paper plate?

Can it stand reheat temperature without the risk

Let’s explore

Is It Safe To Microwave A Paper Bowl?

In fact, it depends.

We can find two different kinds of the paper bowl in the market right now.

Let’s look at them

Paper Bowl without a plastic layer

The paper bowl without a plastic layer is called a plain paper plate in the market.

It is 100% safe to microwave plain paper plates without any plastic coating on their surface.

It doesn’t contain any ink and plastic can release toxic during reheating

They are ideal for your everyday dry foods like sandwiches, cake, pizza, vegetables, etc

Pro tips: The surface of a plain paper plate is rough and not smooth

Paper Bowl with a plastic layer

Paper bowls use a layer of plastic coating to make water resistant to avoid spillage

However, some kinds of coating are not 100% perfect for microwaving.

Examples of plastic liners include:

1.PE coating paper bowl

2.PP coating paper bowl

3.PET coating paper bowl

Let’s explore now

PE-coated Paper Takeout Containers Cannot Be Used In The Microwave

In fact, PE coating has its limitations in melting temperature

For example, PE coating can withstand temperatures from 80-100 Centigrade with different thicknesses

This low melting temperature will make a paper bowl with pe lining unsafe for use in a microwave.

If you set the maximum microwave temperature(100+ centigrade) for a long time, The pe coating will melt and release toxic chemicals into your food.

It is not safe and perfect for reheating unless you just microwave at a medium temperature for 1-2 minutes


PP Coated Paper Food Container Safe To Use in The Micorwave

PP lamination is much safer than pe coating in the microwave

For example, pp coating can stand up to 120 centigrade. But microwave max temperature only reaches 100 centigrade

Because of its high heat tolerance, pp coating paper takeout containers can be considered safe to serve hot or cold food

Pro tips: It is hard to tell pp coating from appearance, please confirm with the seller if you need to microwave the container


PET Laminated Paper Bowl Can Be Microwaved

PET coating paper bowl is a safe option for microwave

In fact, the PET coating on paper can tolerate temperatures up to 220 centigrade

This is more than twice the highest temperature of a microwave working.

For example, paper Baking trays or paper baking cups can be even used for microwave ovens 

Pro tips: When you microwave a paper bowl, you have to remove the lid before you start the microwave. A fitting lid can create pressure which makes the paper bowl rupture


How Long Can You microwave paper plates?

Depending on the type of paper bowl,the temperature you set,it is safe to microwave food for 2 minute-4 minutes.

That means whatever kind of paper bowl, you should not put it in the microwave for more than 4-5 minutes at high temperature.

Let’s review the best time to microwave different types of food items following:

  • Drink

The best time to reheat the drink is 45 seconds to 60 seconds

You can set the microwave to low or medium-level heat.

If you don’t get the warmth you need, you can another 30 seconds of heat 

  • Soup Or Noodle

Soup is perfect for reheating in Microwave.

Normally, You can heat the soup for around 3 minutes.

Please note: take off the cover for the paper bowl. Or, make sure the lid has steam holes

  • Cold meal or leftover

Actually, sometimes we will have leftovers from lunch or dinner like rice, meat, vegetables, and so on.

In general, we will put the meal in the freezer to cool thoroughly.

When you need to reheat the food, make sure the temperature is above 70 centigrade and last more than 2 minutes


How Can You Tell If A Paper Plate(Bowl) Is Microwave Safe?

It is very important to know if a paper plate is microwave or not

Here is two way work well

Check The Label

The easiest way to tell if your paper plate/bowl is microwave safe or not is by checking the label on the paper bowl or its packaging bag and carton.

The labels can indicate if the paper containers can be microwaved or not .

If you don’t find any markings or symbols, there are few chances the paper container is not safe for microwave

Doing The Test

You can perform a very simple test at home if you want to test the microwave safety of a paper food container.

Here is how you do it:

Step 1:Fill water in a microwave-safe cup and place it inside your microwave.

Step 2:Place the paper food container that you are trying to test inside the microwave too.

Step 3:Turn on the microwave at maximum heat for one minute

Step 4: Carefully take out both containers from your microwave

If you notice that the paper food container you were testing is hot and the water inside the cup is cold, the container is not microwave-safe

If the container is room temperature and the water in the cup is hot, the paper food container is safe to microwave.

The Patient Risk Of Microwaving A Non-Microwavable Paper Bowl

There are four potential risks if you microwave a paper bowl that is not microwaveable

let’s find them out

  • Fluorescent Agents in Paper

Some paper food containers use fluorescent agents in the paper to make them look whiter.

However, there are regulations that ban the use of fluorescent agents on food-grade paper.

These agents can contaminate your food if microwaved and cause you to get sick.

  • Ink

If your food packaging has any printed ink on it, microwaving will most probably cause that ink to melt and mix with your food.

This is the reason you should never microwave food inside a newspaper because they notoriously leak ink when heated.

  • PE plastic coating

The PE coating can’t stand high-temperature heat for a long time. Or it can release toxins

After reheating in the microwave, the plastic chemical ends up in your food.

This may do harm to your health.

  • Glue

Glue is often used in the paper lid of paper bowls. 

The manufacturing process of the paper lids will include using glue to stick the top paper rim.

Although the glue is food grade, it is still potentially risky if glue melts in food.

Especially, when you heat the paper bowl with paper lid together 

The Best Way To Microwave Food in Paper Bowl

The best way for you to microwave food in a paper bowl is to always take it out of your paper takeaway container.

You can transfer food to a microwave-safe glass or ceramic container and reheat it

This process will ensure that your food is safe from any unwanted taste or smell that might be carried from the heated container.

You would also be able to safely enjoy your food without any of the risks mentioned above.


Now I would like to hear from you

What is the brand of paper bowl you are using now?

Have you microwaved them before?

Where did you get them?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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