Wondering if you can you microwave Ziploc bags? Wouldn’t it be tremendously convenient to be able to heat food in a bag?
Think of all the post-cooking clean up you won’t have to do.
But since plastics have chemicals and can melt when heated, do you often worry when food needs to be cooked or warmed in such containers?
What about bags? Can you microwave Ziploc bags?
Regardless of how plastics react with heat, companies like Ziploc or Tupperware have built their entire business on plastic-based microwave-safe products.
Does this mean that you can use plastic in any form in a microwave safely, or are there some situations where you should not use them?
If you want to know how safe it is to microwave plastic bags, you should continue reading this guide.
We’ll settle all your concerns once and for all.
Can You Microwave Plastic Bags?
The brand Ziploc is known for its quality, robust, and recyclable plastic Ziploc bags. Because they are also easy to clean, you can use them multiple times.
But can you microwave plastic bags?
Ziploc has given their verdict on microwaving plastic in the safety section of their website.
According to them, when people follow the label directions, Ziploc® brand products can be used with confidence.
All Ziploc® products meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A cursory search on the internet will also reveal that you can microwave them, albeit only for a short duration.
Most sources also advise that it is safe to microwave them up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit (76 degrees Celsius).
It is perfectly safe for you to try at home, if you like.
Are There Health Risks to Microwaving Plastic?
Most of the food we put in our refrigerators are wrapped in plastic or stored in plastic containers or Ziploc bags.
This doesn’t worry us as we know that cold doesn’t affect the integrity of plastic products.
But what happens when we heat plastics? Everyone has heard horrifying tales of plastic leaching harmful contaminants into food on heating.
Or worse, melting and ruining meals. Are these true?
Before we answer this, we should first explore what plastic bags are made of, especially Ziploc.
What Are Ziploc Bags Made Of?
Ziploc bags and other brands of sandwich bags are made from a product referred to as “film” in industrial circles.
This is a thin and clear plastic composed of either High-Density Polythene (HDPE), Low-Density Polythene (LDPE), or Linear Low-Density Polythene (LLDPE).
Ziplock bags are perfect for storing foods from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats and even dairy because of their airtightness and durable film.
They are also recyclable, although they haven’t been made from recycled materials.
Is it Safe to Microwave?
The appliance works by projecting microwaves onto food.
These electromagnetic waves cause the molecules (water, sugar, or fat) in the food to vibrate faster, thus generating friction, which converts to heat energy.
Liquids, for this reason, heat up more quickly than solids.
When heated, plastic can leach chemicals such as dioxin or BPA (Bisphenol A) into your food.
These chemicals can enter our cells and wreak all kinds of havoc, resulting in endocrine issues, reproductive issues, neurological problems, and even cancer.
This has become a growing concern with the advent of microwave meals.
Ziplocs are safe to microwave since they’ve been manufactured after extensive research. BPA is only used in polycarbonate plastics and not in LDPE or HDPE, so the plastic in Ziploc bags is free from BPA.
Also, dioxins are only released when the plastic’s temperature soars as high as 1500 degrees F, which isn’t possible for a conventional microwave, so there’s no concern there either.
How Long Can You Microwave Ziploc Bags For?
The maximum time duration varies according to your microwave’s strength and whether you’re reheating or defrosting.
While Ziploc bags are safe to microwave, it is a fact that anything melts when overheated.
It is recommended that you only microwave Ziploc bags on a low to medium power setting and for 30 seconds at a time.
Check the bag to ensure it is not overheating during each interval before pushing the start button again.
If the plastic has melted, shows signs of damage, or has started to smell unpleasant, do not consume any of the contents.
Just throw it away. It is not worth the risk to your health.
Can You Cook in Ziploc Bags?
It’s a big ‘No‘ for trying to cook anything in plastic, even if the plastic in question is made by Ziploc. Cooking generally requires temperatures high enough for the plastic to melt.
You are most certainly guaranteed that the food you cook in plastics will be unsafe to eat.
For this reason, major plastic companies like Ziploc only recommend their products for simple defrosting or reheating activities.
It is also dangerous to steam vegetables in a Ziploc bag because steam has a significantly higher heat transfer rate than boiling water.
You risk burning the plastic this way, which will ruin your vegetables, and increase your risk of steam-related burn accidents.
If you watched the video we shared earlier, you have already seen what boiling water can do to a Ziploc bag. Steam would just annihilate it.
As a general rule of thumb, do not heat any food in a Ziploc bag that, in your experience, tends to reach temperatures higher than the bag can withstand.
Can You Microwave Ziploc Containers?
Yes, in fact, that’s their USP. Ziploc containers are microwave-safe, and you can feel free to heat all kinds of foods or liquids in them.
If you check the packaging labels or the tags on the containers, you will find it has the FDA’s (Food & Drug Administration) stamp of approval.
These containers are dioxin and BPA-free, so there aren’t any health concerns, but make sure you follow the heating instructions provided for your food precisely.
What Else Do You Need To know?
Here are some additional safety guidelines that you need to follow when microwaving Ziploc products:
- Microwave items with high sugar or fat content with caution, as they tend to heat up faster than water, and this might cause the plastic to melt.
- Ziplocs are not meant to withstand high temperatures. So only use them for short reheating or defrosting cycles.
- Place the Ziploc bag with its contents on a microwave-safe dish to protect the bottom from possible damage.
- You should not seal the bag as it can cause steam build-up, which overheats the plastic.
Should I Be Microwaving Ziploc Bags?
The answer to can you microwave Ziploc bags is still yes. Rest assured, it is safe. But keep the precautionary measures in mind when you are doing it.
This might be a lot to absorb at once.
But take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the safety guide or usage instructions provided on Ziploc’s packaging or any other brand.
It’s also best if you only microwave the bags for short durations at a time.
As robust as they are, even Ziploc Bags have a softening point, which is somewhere around 195 degrees F or 90.5 degrees C. This means no boiling water in the bag.
Read Next: Learn how to remove burnt plastic if any from your oven.