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Can Plastic Go in the Oven? (Read This First!)

Our food consumption and meal preparation revolve around plastic products- let it be disposable plastic utensils, food containers, or cookware. 

People prepare food in batches to save time and reheating boxed food becomes a part of food consumption for almost every meal. In a normal house, home cooks use plastic kitchenware frequently due to the fragility and expensive price range of glass and ceramic products. 

But plastic’s low melting point leads to an important question- can we put plastic products (wraps, containers, bags) inside an oven? 

Can plastic go in the oven?

Plastic cannot go into oven- apart from a few special-grade plastics. People often get confused about what to use for cooking and baking at high temperatures. As plastic can withstand low heat only, people should only use plastic utensils with oven-safe markings inside an oven with low temperature.

There are cookware, kitchenware, and tableware safe for the oven (both microwave and electric), but those goods are not made with plastic. 

As a general rule, plastic cookware and tableware are better off if they are not inside a hot oven. An oven-friendly, heat-tolerant substitute minimizes the hassle in the long run. It is wiser to invest in products with oven-friendly markings. 

This way all the cooking limitations will be uplifted, and a person will be able to cook or bake while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Before putting a plastic product inside an oven, you should consider a few vital things: the flammable nature of plastic leading to fire risks, toxic fume, and the cleaning method of melted plastic.

Fumes produced by plastic pose a risk of chronic diseases. If a plastic container or disposable box feels sturdy, it doesn’t imply that the oven-safe nature of that material. 

Rather than being decomposed, the plastic container will secrete harmful elements at a heat lower than the melting point, and it will get mixed up with the food. 

The hotter a plastic container gets, the chance of leaching microplastic through food increases proportionally. Putting a bowl covered with plastic wrap is equally dangerous for the quality, safety, sensory vales, and nutritional values. 

In a nutshell, it is safer to heat leftover food or take-out food with ceramic, glass, silicone, and aluminum utensils and oven-safe plastic utensils. 

Is it safe to put plastic in the oven?

We unknowingly use plastic products inside an oven for cooking and reheating every day. Hence, it is vital to know about product materials and the temperature tolerance of each cookware. 

Here goes the list of cooking utensils and tableware we should be mindful of:

Plastic food wrap or plastic film: 

Depending on the quality, plastic food wraps and plastic films disintegrate at high oven temperatures. However, there are a few food wraps that withstand microwave ovens: 

“Kirkland plastic wrap”, “Costco plastic wrap”, “Reynold’s plastic wrap”. These premium-grade plastic wraps are robust enough to stay intact inside a microwave oven. 

Plastic takeaway containers or tubs: 

These utensils are disposable (meant for single use), made with temperature-sensitive plastic. The oven will ruin them in a short time.  

Plastic lids: 

Plastic lids will melt inside an oven pretty fast. There are some microwave-safe lids, but electric oven-friendly plastic lids are non-existent. 

Plastic Tupperware: 

Some Tupperware has high heat resistivity and is microwave safe. Yet, it won’t last inside an electric oven (toaster oven). 

Plastic Chinese containers: 

Chinese takeout containers seem paper-made, but they have thin plastic lining at the inner part of the box. So, they don’t fall under the ovenproof category.

Plastic handle pans go in the oven: 

A person needs to detach plastic handles as they are not ovenproof. Cooking pots and pans are meant to be used in open burners where the heat get absorbed by ambience. 

However, there are some electric/toaster oven-friendly cookware that can be put inside an oven with high temperatures.

Plastic cookie cutters: 

It is unsafe to put them inside a hot oven. A plastic cookie cutter can tolerate high pressure and force physically. It won’t last inside an oven (both microwave and electric). 

Plastic ready meals: 

Few of these packaged meals are microwave safe for a few minutes- for reheating. But the plastic element of these ready meals will decompose if they are used for high heat cooking.  

Plastic bags: 

A person must avoid putting plastic bags used inside an oven (both microwave and electric). They are very thin and heat sensitive. 

Hard plastic: 

Hard plastic sheets and products are used for industrial applications. Depending on the material composition, hard plastic (High-density polyethylene) can be used inside an oven. 

However, the temperature resistivity should be checked beforehand; microwaving plastic increases the chance of leaking toxic components into food. 

Which plastics are oven safe?

CPET (Crystallized Polyethylene Terephthalate) and a few other high temperatures resistant plastics (Vespel, Torlon, Ryton, Ultem, Polysulfone) are oven-safe. 

CPET has a temperature tolerance range of 32-400F, making it highly suitable for ovens. However, CPET can be used inside a microwave oven only while the other plastic materials are industrial grade material. 

Why you shouldn’t put plastic in the oven?

All cookware, tableware, and kitchenware have their pros and cons. The first and foremost priority should be health and environmental safety. 

There is only one way to use pots with a plastic part- the plastic part should be detached before usage. Plastic cookware should be used inside an oven while considering the following aspects:

Fire Risk:

The demand for takeout meals in plastic containers has reached the peak. On the other hand, cling film (plastic wrap) is used to avoid spilling, breaking, and sealing the odor. 

If someone puts a wrapped box inside an oven to reheat for a longer time, the thin layer of plastic wrap and disposable box will melt and stick to the food- eventually leading to a fire risk.

Toxin and Microplastic Consumption:

Heating food in plastic containers exposes people to toxic chemicals (e.g., Lead, Cadmium, Mercury) as plastic begins to emit fumes at a very low temperature. 

In-plane eyes the food might look good and plastic-free, but a tiny amount of melted plastic will lead to microplastic consumption through food. 

Some of these chemicals are directly linked with potentially harmful diseases: cancer, immune system disorder, heart disease, etc. 

Melted Plastic and The Cleanup: 

Ovens can bring literal disasters, as a bad case of melted plastic cookware inside an oven can make the unusable.  

It takes a great deal of time and effort to make the damaged oven usable. If the bits of plastics can’t be scraped off, microplastic will seep into the food when the oven will be used for reheating in future.    

How do I know if a plastic container is microwave safe?

A plastic utensil will be rendered microwave safe, if it has “oven-safe”, “microwave safe” or “ovenproof” marking. A method of differentiating plastics is checking the recycling symbol-usually on the base of a plastic product. 

The symbol will have a number in some cases. That number is associated with the kind of plastic the item is made of- leading to finding out the melting point of that material. 

Can you put plastic in the oven at 170?

Plastic, in general, has a melting point of 175 Fahrenheit. A temperature of 170 Fahrenheit won’t set it on fire, but weak plastic will begin to disintegrate and release toxic chemical components. 

Hard plastic like CPET has a melting point of 400 Fahrenheit, and it can be used at 170 Fahrenheit.

At What Temperature Does Plastic Melt?

Plastic has a melting point ranging from 175-400 Fahrenheit; it depends on the chemical composition. There are some highly resistive, durable industrial plastic materials with higher melting temperatures. 

But household plastic items aren’t made with them except for CPET which has a melting point of 400 Fahrenheit.

Final thoughts

Plastic was meant to be used on cold surfaces. Therefore, plastic cookware should not be placed inside in both microwave and electric ovens. To avoid all the problems mentioned above, one should use oven-safe plastic disposable boxes and kitchen utensils while considering the temperature tolerance.