Microwaves are one of the most used appliances in American kitchens. They heat food and drink very quickly compared to other methods. While there are many things you can put in a microwave, there are materials that are not appropriate or even dangerous for microwave use.
In this article, we will be discussing if melamine plates, a popular item in American kitchens, are safe to use in the microwave. Keep reading to find out!
What is Melamine?
First, let’s address what melamine is. Melamine is high-quality plastic.
It is in kitchen utensils and dinnerware. It is durable and difficult to break. Chances are, you have melamine in your kitchen whether you know it or not.
Melamine is desirable for consumers compared to the cheaper plastic kitchen items on the market. Melamine fights the stereotype of plastic as a “cheap” material and shows it can be of good quality. Melamine rose to popularity in the 1960s.
Colorful designs are popular on melamine dishes as they are affordable and the majority of families are able to replace them with the passing trends.
Interestingly, melamine is also occasionally used as a fertilizer! It is truly a multi-purpose substance.
Can You Microwave Melamine?
No. According to the United States Food & Drug Administration, you should not microwave melamine products. While they are acceptable to eat food off of or drink out of, they should not be heated.
Heating melamine is dangerous because it can cause melamine poisoning. Some symptoms of this health issue are high blood pressure, signs of kidney infection, and irritability. An extreme amount of melamine contamination can even result in death.
Melamine Plate Alternatives
Ensure that you are not heating melamine plates in your microwave as it can cause adverse health complications.
Melamine is also one of the least eco-friendly materials that you can have in your kitchen. Melamine is non-biodegradable, non-compostable, and non-recyclable. An eco-friendly solution to these problems is repurposing.
There are alternatives that are safe for the microwave and can also have added benefits in addition to their microwave-friendly status.
Almost all ceramic dishes are going to be microwave safe. Of course, always check for a label on the bottom before attempting to microwave a new item.
In addition to using them in your microwave, ceramic dishes are also natural and have a traditional aesthetic. If you are crafty, you can even hand-make your ceramic kitchen wares.
As with ceramic dishes, almost all glassware is microwave safe but always check before microwaving something for the first time.
Glass is 100% recyclable! When purchasing new glass, look for a recycled status and when it is time to retire a glass kitchenware item, make sure that it is recycled properly.
What Else Should I Avoid Doing With Melamine?
Microwave use is not the only activity you should avoid when using melamine. Never submerge or pour boiling water onto or inside melamine items. Avoid this because water at a boiling temperature can leach melamine out of your kitchen item and into your food or drink. Only use boiling water in heat-resistant kitchenware.
In 2008 concerns about the safety of melamine were rapidly increasing due to a tragedy occurring in China. At the time, melamine was an ingredient in infant formula. More than 300,000 babies became ill from this. Six of them tragically passed away.
Melamine also contaminated pet food resulting in the death of over 1000 household pets. A massive recall happened in the U.S. and China on baby food and pet food that contained this ingredient.
Rightfully so, people worldwide began wondering if the melamine in their homes was safe even if they were not directly consuming it.
Should I Continue Using My Melamine Kitchenware?
It is a personal decision what products to incorporate into our homes. Just because there are downsides to a product, there are also benefits. Melamine is lightweight and comes in aesthetic designs. These factors may benefit the inconvenience of not being able to use it for certain things.
In regards to health concerns, there are ways to significantly increase the safety of melamine kitchen items. Listed here are some of the most useful:
- Check for BPA-free status
- Do not use with microwaves
- Do not use in ovens
- Do not wash in dishwasher
- Avoid using with hot food
Children and young adults should only use melamine under supervision if they are not aware or will not remember how to safely use it.
At the end of the day, it is your decision if melamine fits in your lifestyle. Just remember to use it safely and with precaution.
How Do I Dispose of My Melamine Kitchenware?
Have you decided to part with your melamine kitchenware? As discussed above, melamine is not biodegradable or recyclable. This does make it harder to find ways to dispose of melamine that is eco-friendly and responsible.
The best and probably easiest is to repurpose the melamine dishware for use outside of the kitchen. This is especially easy because melamine dishware often comes in colorful and attractive patterns that are easy to blend into the decor.
Examples of ways to repurpose melamine kitchenware are:
- Jewelry Displays/Dishes
- Bird Feeders
- Catch-All Dishes
Another eco-friendly and responsible way to get rid of melamine kitchenware is to donate it to a local charity. A common organization that is probably in your area is Habitat for Humanity. You can also give it to a young person in your life just starting and trying to make ends meet.
Do not microwave melamine kitchen wares and make sure to take all safety precautions if using them in the kitchen under any circumstance!
Even when we do not directly consume a product, the items in our environments can still impact us in big ways. This includes the dishes that we eat off of, especially in regards to our health.
If desired, try to find new ways to purpose melamine without eating off of it. Also, consider donating to reduce environmental impact.