Have you seen mini-lightning in your microwave while warming food? The phenomenon happens when metallic elements are in the microwave.
The microwave heats food best when the container absorbs the waves. Metals reflect the waves and may cause a fire accident if they cause sparks of large magnitude. It leaves you whether stainless steel is microwave safe.
Stainless steel is a common kitchenware material. It poses the question of whether tossing it into the microwave is safe. You may want to use minimal dishes in storing and warming your food, but you need to check the safety of all materials you use in the microwave.
It would be best never to toss your stainless steel kitchenware in the microwave. Despite not warming the food since it blocks the waves, the electrons in the metals may react and cause an explosion. You may get severe injuries and damage your appliance.
How a Microwave Works
The first microwave oven was created in 1945. They have grown in popularity and are now essential kitchen appliances that help reheat foods and drinks quickly.
A microwave oven uses microwave frequency to reheat foods. Microwaves exist as electromagnetic radiations with a wavelength of between 1 millimeter and one meter.
Longer wavelengths have lower frequencies, while vice versa is true. The frequencies range from 300 GHz to 300 MHz. A microwave oven produces short wavelengths and high frequency.
Once the microwave hits the food or drink, the food absorbs the wave, which creates vibration in the water molecules.
Increased vibrations create heat, which heats up the food or drink. Food will heat faster if it has a high amount of water. Also, microwaving your food for a long time will make it dry and hard.
Is Stainless Steel Microwave Safe/
Stainless steel behaves like other metals when tossed in the microwave. It will reflect waves instead of absorbing them the way microwave-safe materials should. The shape of the stainless steel kitchenware determines the reaction between the metal and the waves.
However, a flat piece of stainless steel at the base of the microwave is harmless. Also, a spoon can go into the microwave for a few seconds without a reaction; however, a fork will create arcs due to the sharp edges on its spikes. Thus, it creates sparks and leads to a fire hazard faster than other metallic kitchenware.
304 stainless steel is heat resistant. Thus, it makes utensils for storing, preparing, and processing foods. It maintains other properties of regular steel. But to be safe, avoid using stainless steel and other metals in the microwave.
Types of Stainless Steel Kitchenware
Stainless steel’s anti-rust, anti-tarnish, and non-reactive nature have made it a popular material in modern cookware. It’s easy to manage and make durable products.
Some of the utensils made of stainless steel include spoons, soup, and sauce pots, sauté pans, thermo flasks, baking sheets, ladles, slotted spoons, spatulas, cake pans, bread tins, baking sheets, etc.
You can use several stainless steel materials in a baking oven. However, never use them in a microwave, however tempting it may be.
A microwave oven works differently from other ovens, depending on vibrating water molecules rather than heat transfer.
Precautions When Using a Microwave
- Microwave radiation can harm your body. Thus, ensure you use a microwave oven while closed.
- Stand far from a microwave oven when it’s on.
- Keep your face and hands away from the microwave door when reheating foods.
- Do not use a microwave oven with a broken door. It can leak radiation which is a health hazard when it comes into contact with your skin.
- Use microwave-safe containers. Plastics, enamel, and porcelain are some of the best materials to use in a microwave. However, you need to check whether the plastic is microwave-safe.
- Do not overheat water or water-based foods for a long time. The water may appear still, but a slight disturbance will cause a water explosion leading to severe burns.
- If you suspect overheating the water, unplug the device and allow the water to cool down before removing it from the oven.
- Checkout for any damages on the latch, seals, and hinges as they may lead to radiation leakage.
- Avoid using steel wool, scouring pads, and other abrasives while cleaning your microwave oven.
- Do not use a microwave oven as a storage unit.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
How to Identify Stainless Steel Cookware
Many manufacturers will engrave the type of material on their kitchenware. However, if the stamp is absent, you should avoid using the utensil in the microwave unless you are sure it’s a microwave-safe metal.
Stainless steel is not magnetic. Thus, the easiest test is to stick a magnet at the base of the kitchenware. If it falls, there are chances it’s stainless steel. Stainless steel is hard to scratch.
Thus, if a sharp object scratches your cookware, it’s not stainless steel. The last test uses heat. Stainless steel doesn’t lose color. Thus, the material isn’t stainless steel if there’s a black or brown residue.
Are There Microwave-Safe Stainless Steel?
Most stainless steel products are not microwavable. However, some brands have made microwavable stainless steel products. It’s wise to check with the manufacturer the characteristics of their stainless steel.
In most cases, the instructions are in the user manual. But if there’s some missing information, you can contact them through the contact they have provided.
The product description will indicate whether your cookware is microwave safe or not. Also, you should check whether your microwave oven can heat stainless steel material. Never use stainless steel in the microwave when unsure of its safety.
Types of Microwave-Safe Metals
It’s dangerous to use stainless steel in a microwave. However, there are safer metals that you can use in a microwave. But you should be cautious and check with your microwave brand if you can use any metals.
Aluminum is the safest metal you can use in a microwave. It’s why aluminum makes foil to cover food items – Aluminum doesn’t cause sparks when heated in a microwave.
However, you should ensure it doesn’t get into contact with electrical components inside the microwave oven. Also, it would be best never to heat aluminum foil for long hours.
Foil containers are also safe to use in a microwave. They have a thin layer of aluminum foil inside laminated cardboard; the foil isn’t exposed and can cause aching during the heating process.
Gold is non-reactive metal. It doesn’t release ions into your food. Thus, it’s safe to use it in a microwave. Also, it’s the best material to use with acidic foods.
Silver is also a safe material to use in your microwave. However, you should ensure the material is genuine silver. Never get tempted to use silver-plated utensils in your microwave.
The silver layer may be too thin to prevent arching and sparking. Also, the silverware should not have any plastic or wooden parts as they may melt or burn down.
Copper is a good heat conductor. It also doesn’t cause arcing in a microwave. Thus, it’s safe to use as it evenly distributes heat throughout the food.
Safety Tips for Using Microwave Safe Metals
Although you can use some metals in the microwave, there are some safety precautions you should follow.
- Ensure all the metallic products are at the center of the oven and don’t touch the edges at any angle. When a metal touches microwave walls when used, it can cause sparking, leading to a fire hazard.
- Ensure that the food evenly covers metallic containers when using them in the microwave.
- Check the recommended time limit to use a metal product in a microwave. When metals stay too long in a microwave, they can create sparks that result in accidental fires.
- Observe any sparking in the microwave when using metallic utensils. You should switch off the microwave immediately if you see any sparking or flames. Never use that product in the microwave again.
- Avoid using dishes with metallic trim and cutlery in the microwave. The sharp edges and corners cause arcing that results in sparking and fires.
Some brands make microwavable stainless steel. However, you need to know the safety precautions when using any metal in the microwave. It’s safer to avoid stainless steel or any metal in your microwave.
Always check whether your kitchenware has a microwave-safe mark. If the mark is absent, never use it in a microwave, whether metallic or not. Also, never use discolored, cracked, or old plastic containers. They can leak chemicals into your food during the heating process.
It’s unsafe to use stainless steel in the microwave. The various shapes of kitchenware can cause spring even when it’s marked microwave safe. Also, your microwave oven needs to accommodate metals. Whenever in doubt, avoid stainless steel in your microwave oven.
Hi, my name is Todd R. Bressler and I am the founder of this soundproofing blog. I’m a DIY enthusiast from Cincinnati, the city that just beat New York for the City That Never Sleeps Award in 2020. (Original) I have been in the DIY soundproofing industry for close to 5 years, running a YouTube channel and a Podcast show every Saturday. I started Crafty Soundproofing to help you learn the basics of “self defending yourself against noise”
Have an idea worth sharing? Please contact me and I’ll be happy to respond ASAP.