We live in an era where technology and convenience reign supreme. From smartphones to microwaves, everything is designed to make our lives easier.
However, it has not been without its cost. Concerns over health and safety have led many people to question the validity of some of these conveniences.
It’s no surprise that Saran Wrap is an obvious pick for such scrutiny. Many people wonder if they’re safe for use in a microwave and the risks they pose.
But can you microwave saran wrap? Saran Wrap is a heavy-duty plastic wrap deemed safe for use in microwaves by the United States Department of Agriculture. However, there are some caveats to using them properly.
In today’s post, we’ll present facts to support our claim that you can microwave Saran Wrap. We’ll also discuss its benefits and risks as well as share some tips for safely using it in your microwave.
What’s a Saran Wrap
Saran Wrap is a brand of plastic wrap used to cover food and other items. It was first invented in 1949 by Dow Chemical Co. as a thin, clingy form of plastic that you could easily dispense from a roll. Today, it’s sold under license by S. C. Johnson & Son.
Originally made from polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), modern Saran Wrap has since 2004 been made from polyethylene (PE). The decision to switch to PE was prompted by concerns about PVDC’s chlorine content, cost, and environmental impact.
However, PE’s high oxygen permeability limits its use in some applications. For instance, it’s unsuitable for meat packaging or other foods with short shelf lives that require anaerobic conditions to prevent spoilage. For this reason, PVDC-made wrappings still find a niche market in these areas.
So, does this mean you can’t microwave Saran Wrap? Let’s find out.
Is it Safe to Microwave Saran Wrap?
According to the manufacturer’s website, Saran Wrap is microwave safe. The United States Department of Agriculture also deems it microwavable, having met all FDA requirements for food safety.
Saran Wrap, like most plastics, is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which, when heated, can release a potentially harmful chemical called dioxin. Although the FDA regulates dioxin and only trace amounts are found in food-grade PVC, it advises caution when heating plastic Saran wraps.
Here are some safety tips:
- First, check for a microwave-safe label on your wrap. A microwave-safe label indicates that your wrapper has been tested and meets FDA microwave safety standards. It’s usually located on either the bottom, front, or back of a package. If you don’t see one, contact the manufacturer to confirm its safety before using it in a microwave.
- Ensure the Saran Wrap does not come in contact with your food, as it may transfer dioxin to your food. Use a deeper bowl instead of a shallow one, and leave a one-inch space between the wrap and the food.
- Avoid fatty and sugary foods as they heat very quickly and can melt Saran wrap, causing it to stick to your food or plate. This can leach dioxin into your food or cause a fire in your microwave.
- Avoid heating too long or at high temperatures, as both can cause dioxin to leach into your food from the wrap. Instead, heat in short increments and at a lower temperature (about 50 percent power). Remember that Saran wrap begins to melt at 220-250° Fahrenheit.
- Steam buildup can cause burns or even an explosion in your microwave, making a mess and leaching dioxin into your food. Poke holes in your wrap with a fork or any clean, sharp object before heating to allow steam to escape.
How Long Should You Microwave Saran Wrap
You should not microwave Saran wrap for more than 2 minutes in a row. Doing so will cause it to melt, resulting in a puddle of plastic goo on your plate. Instead, nuke it in short bursts, preferably 30 seconds, to limit its exposure to heat.
As previously stated, Saran wrap has a low melting point of 220-250 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that even mild exposure to heat can cause it to melt.
However, if a particular food demands heating for longer, switch to low or medium power settings. You want to have control over the heating process and stop if you notice any changes in the appearance of your Saran wrap.
Simple Alternatives to Saran Wrap
If you don’t want to use Saran wrap for some reason, or you just like having a variety of options on hand, consider these alternatives:
- Paper Towel: If you don’t have any Saran wrap, a clean paper towel will do in a pinch. It’s not as airtight as plastic wrap, but it’ll prevent splatter and keep food from getting soggy. Just make sure to use a new one every time.
- Silicon Lid: These lids are designed to fit on top of a microwavable bowl or container, creating an airtight seal that can keep food fresh for extended periods. They’re also reusable, which is a bonus if you want to save money or reduce waste.
However, allow at least one inch of space between your foot and the lid for steam to escape.
- Fabric Bowl Covers: Unlike silicon lids, these covers are made of fabric and thus eco-friendly. If you have access to a sewing machine, you can make your own; otherwise, look for them in craft stores or online. Remember that they might not be as effective at preventing splatter as Saran wrap.
- Your Plate or Bowl: It seems counterintuitive, but covering your food with another bowl can prevent splatter and retain moisture. Just make sure the bowl fits on top of your plate and is microwave-safe. Also, it should not be too large; otherwise, it will not fit in your microwave.
Faqs On Can You Microwave Saran Wrap
1. What kind of plastic is Saran Wrap?
Saran Wrap is a heavy-duty plastic wrap made of polyethylene. Polyethylene is a thermoplastic polymer, which you can mold into various shapes and forms when heated. Most plastic wraps are made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE), which has excellent cling properties and can withstand temperatures up to 105 degrees Celsius.
2. What plastic wrap is microwave safe?
Typically, a plastic wrap is considered microwave-safe if it’s approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It must meet all FDA food safety requirements and to labeled as such. If it lacks a microwave-safe label, contact your manufacturer to find out whether or not it’s safe for use in a microwave.
3. Is Covering Food In The Microwave Necessary?
Covering your food while microwaving protects it from splatters and keeps it from drying. Leave at least one corner open, so steam can escape, especially for dishes with an airtight seal, like casseroles or lasagna. However, some foods, such as eggs, are best when they’re left uncovered to cook evenly.
4. Is Saran Wrap toxic when heated?
Although tested and approved by the USDA for microwave use, Saran wrap can release fumes containing dioxins under high temperatures. These fumes have been linked to cancer in humans and animals. However, no conclusive evidence links cancer to food heated in plastic containers or food wrapped with saran-type plastic film.
5. Can you microwave Glad Cling wrap?
Glad Cling wrap is not microwave-safe and will melt and stick to your food, leaching toxins in your food. These plastic wraps are best for storing leftovers in the fridge or covering bowls while transporting them. They’re also great for keeping dust and insects out of storage boxes or shelves.
6. What can I use instead of cling film in the microwave?
The best alternative to cling film is a glass or ceramic plate. Although expensive, it contains no harmful chemicals that can leach into your food and harm your health.
For a cheaper option, simply overturn a bowl on top of your dish. It will keep your food from drying out and protect it from splatters. However, make sure it’s microwave-safe.
7. Does cling film melt in the microwave?
Cling film has a low melting point of 220 to 250 °F, meaning it will melt fast when exposed to heat. Melting can result in the release of toxic fumes that are harmful to one’s health. However, nuking it in short bursts and at low power, settings is unlikely to cause any harm.
8. Are there any good brands to Saran wrap for the microwave?
A quick search on your favorite search engine will yield a few brands similar to saran wrap. Some notable brands are Reynolds, Glad, and Ziploc. You can find them at most local grocery stores or large online retail outlets like Amazon. Check for microwave-safe labels or contact the manufacturer directly before purchasing.
9. Can you reuse Saran Wrap?
Although not recommended, you can reuse your Saran wrap. However, ensure it is clean and dry, with no rips or tears. Also, check the packaging of your plastic wrap to see if there are any restrictions on how many times you can use it. If in doubt, toss it.
Saran Wrap is indeed microwave safe, having met all FDA requirements and being approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is also widely used in storing and transporting raw foods, making it a common household item.
However, microwaving it excessively or at a higher temperature can leach dangerous chemicals into your food. Instead, nuke it in short bursts and low power to control its exposure to heat. Also, allow an inch between your food and the wrap to avoid contact with the fumes released during heating.
Generally, use precaution and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using Saran Wrap in your microwave.
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