It is quick, easy, and convenient to heat things in the microwave, but not everything can safely go in a microwave. So, can you microwave plastic cups?
Considerations for Using Plastic Cups in the Microwave
Microwaves can safely heat many things, but not all plastics should be used in a microwave. Microwaves use intense heat to warm foods and liquids. This heat can lead to dangerous chemicals leaching from the plastics or the plastic itself melting.
When choosing your cup for the microwave, always make sure to read the labels carefully. Cups may be labeled with “Microwave Safe” or will have specific instructions on how much liquid can go into the cup to be safe for the microwave. Older cups are more likely to be dangerous for the microwave.
Thin plastics can melt under the heat of the microwave. Disposable or thin plastic cups may be designed for hot liquids but not to heat. So when these plastics are heated to that extreme, they are not able to hold their shape and structure.
You should also be cautious of burns when using plastic cups. The plastic cups can get really hot and burn your hands when you try to take them out of the microwave.
Harmful Chemicals in Plastic Cups
BPAs and Phthalates are used to make plastic stronger or more durable. These chemicals can be of great use when making products but can be extremely dangerous when exposed to heat.
BPA (bisphenol A) is found most commonly in number seven plastics and can leach from containers that food is in for a long time. Containers like bottled water, canned vegetables, and microwaved items can end up with BPAs in the food or liquid from the container. The consumption of BPAs has been linked to many health problems.
Phthalates are chemicals that make plastics durable and are used in some plastic containers. We do not know the full extent of the effects on humans, so more research is needed. However, it was shown to affect animal reproductive systems.
How Do I Know if My Plastic Cup Is Safe?
One way to know if your plastic cup is safe for use in the microwave is to look at the label. Some cups will include if they are microwave safe or not on the cup. Take these recommendations seriously.
Recycling codes can also be helpful to know if your plastic cup is safe to use in the microwave. Recycling codes 2, 4, and 5 are safe to use in the microwave. However, codes 1, 3, 6, and 7 are not safe for the microwave.
Can you microwave plastic cups? Well, yes and no. There are harmful chemicals, like phthalates and BPAs, that are used in some plastics and can leach from the container to your food or liquid. If you’re using a plastic cup that contains these chemicals, you should not put it in the microwave. Plastics labeled “Microwave Safe” are safe to use in the microwave.