Aluminum foil is one of the most popular and common materials that people use in their kitchens. However, while aluminum foil is great in most situations, should you use it in the microwave?
Aluminum foil should not be placed into a microwave unless absolutely necessary. However, doing so in small amounts is okay if done properly. To microwave aluminum foil safely, make sure that the foil is fresh and smooth, not crinkled.
So, you can put aluminum foil into the microwave without it starting a fire or in some other way damaging your microwave. However, when it comes to putting foil into the microwave, you need to be very careful in the steps you take. Throughout the rest of this article, I will cover these precautions and the different types of aluminum foil you may run into.
What is Aluminum Foil?
When you think about aluminum foil and what it is, you likely just know it as a sheet of metal that you can use in order to keep your food hot and keep your pans clean while cooking in the oven. When thinking about what the foil is made of, you will likely think that it is made of aluminum, however, aluminum is a mix of two metals, with the foil being made of iron and silicon, making it strong and flexible.
The process of making aluminum foil involves making the molten alloy, which is rolled out between two water-cooled rollers. It is these rollers that give the foil one side shiny and one side a dull look, however, there is no difference between the two sides.
Can Aluminum Be Put In a Microwave?
So, for those who have ever used a microwave before and accidentally put metal into the microwave, you know that it can quickly cause a fire, as the electromagnetic rays that the microwave produces in order to heat up your food are reflected around the microwave. This causes the microwave to overheat and is the reason it will catch on fire or get damaged in some sort of way if you put aluminum foil in the microwave.
So, how can you put aluminum foil into a microwave without it forcing you to go out and buy a new microwave afterward? Well, you have to do it very carefully and follow a very strict set of precautions. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, you will first want to consult the owner’s manual for your microwave, as it will give you the most specific and accurate information for your microwave.
The next step that the USDA tells is that you need to make sure that the food you are trying to cook isn’t completely covered by the foil, as this will prevent cooking and cause microwave damage. This doesn’t mean you can’t use foil, as using small amounts of foil can be perfectly safe. If you are heating up pre-prepared food in the microwave that has aluminum foil, read the label to find out if it is safe to go into the microwave or not. However, it might be safer to simply put it into a microwave-safe container instead of leaving it in the container it came in.
Lastly, the USDA gives these quick tips for when you are microwaving aluminum foil:
- Only use new and smooth foil to prevent sparks.
- You shouldn’t cover more than 1/4 of the food in foil.
- It doesn’t matter what side of the foil is facing outwards.
- Shape the foil to the food so there aren’t any edges.
- Keep the foil at least one inch away from the microwave walls.
- Immediately remove the food and the foil from the microwave if you begin to see any sparks. Remove foil from food, then continue cooking.
Types of Aluminum Cookware
When you are in the kitchen, you have to be careful with what you are putting in the microwave, as plenty of kitchenware is made of aluminum foil, and if you aren’t careful, you can accidentally put a piece of aluminum foil into the microwave and cause a lot of damage. While there are tons of different products that are made using aluminum foil, I will cover the most common of these that you have likely used before or encountered at a grocery store.
These products include:
- Pie plates
- Roasting pans
- Bread loaf tins
- Cake pans
- Steam table pans
As stated, there are other products that are made of aluminum, so to be extra careful and prevent any damage to your microwave and your home, you are going to want to check and make sure anything that is made of metal is gone before you place it into the microwave. In order to find out what materials are safe to microwave, read the microwave’s owner’s manual and the label of the metal object. You can also contact the manufacturers directly, although that might take a while for various reasons.
Aluminum Foil Safety Tips
There are a number of other tips you are going to want to know before you try to start microwaving aluminum foil, and we are going to cover these so that you will be able to be safe when you try to use aluminum foil in the microwave next time. These tips are:
- While some people believe that one side of the aluminum foil is safer to use while in the microwave, this isn’t true. The difference between the reflective side of the foil and the dull side of the foil is so small that there isn’t going to be any difference.
- If your microwave has a metal turntable or any metal shelving, you aren’t going to want to use any aluminum foil, even if the foil itself states that it is microwave safe.
- Make sure you are using new foil, as you want the foil to be smooth and already-used foil is much more likely to have wrinkles.
- You aren’t going to want to use large plates, as this causes the foil to be closer to the walls of the microwave.