Parchment paper is everyone's favorite kitchen commodity, but does it pass the microwave test?
Parchment paper is safe to use in the microwave as long as you follow a few safety guidelines to keep you from having to pull out the fire extinguisher!
In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through all the dos and don'ts of putting parchment paper in your microwave, and what you could possibly use instead.
Let's take a look.
2 Types of Parchment Paper
There are two types of parchment paper: bleached and unbleached.
Both are treated with an ultra thin silicone coating in order to be heat resistant and nonstick.
Does it matter which one you use? Not really, because they can be used for all the same tasks. It really comes down to personal preference!
Parchment Paper (Bleached)
Bleached parchment paper is white. It is treated with chlorine and contains toxic dioxin. This is the bleached alternative to the unbleached version.
Parchment Paper (Unbleached)
Unbleached parchment paper is brown. This paper is untreated and chlorine free.
Microwave-Safe and Unsafe Paper
Parchment Paper (Bleached)
Parchment paper can be used in the microwave, unless stated otherwise on the packaging. Concerning bleached parchment paper, there are mixed reviews.
Some say it is not entirely safe for cooking because of the toxic dioxin substance that could get into food. However, the trace amounts are so small that there are no proven health risks.
To mitigate the risk that we don't quite understand yet, we recommend using unbleached parchment paper. However, using bleach parchment paper every once in a while will have insignificant consequences.
Parchment Paper (Unbleached)
Unbleached parchment paper is preferred for everyday use since it doesn't contain any toxins. This is the most natural parchment paper you can use. It can be used in the microwave, unless stated otherwise on the packaging.
Wax paper is not a strong heat resistant product, but nevertheless can be used in the microwave when using caution.
Wax paper is coated with a thin layer of paraffin wax. If heated enough, fats and sugars can cause the wax to melt. YIKES. For the wax to melt off the paper, temperature needs to reach about 200°F.
Follow these guidelines when using wax paper in the microwave:
- Check the wax paper packaging for microwave-safe labels.
- Use wax paper for steaming foods like vegetables, or use it as a splatter guard on top of a plate or bowl.
- Do not microwave for extreme lengths of time. Keep it under four minutes.
Most of us use paper towels to cover food to reduce splatter. You can use them in the microwave, but there are a few rules to follow so your paper towel doesn't catch on fire:
- Read safety labels on paper towel packaging
- Keep the paper towel unfolded. When using a folded towel, there is a chance for heat to accumulate in between the crease and ignite fire.
- Do not use recycled paper towels. Some recycled paper products may contain traces of metal that can spark a fire in the microwave.
Brown Paper Bags
Brown paper bags are not safe to use in the microwave. Made with only one layer of paper, these bags can't withstand a lot of heat. Some of these bags are also capable of releasing toxic chemicals into food.
It is definitely not safe or sanitary to put newspaper in your microwave, the ink could run into your food, and it easily catch fire.
How to Safely Microwave with Parchment Paper
When microwaving with parchment paper, make sure to follow these guidelines:
- Avoid heating high oil/fatty foods such as fried chicken, pork sausages or bacon for a long period of time. Reheating leftovers that are high in fat is ok. Keep the heating between one and two minutes.
- Check the packaging container of parchment paper for a microwave-safe label.
Microwave Safe Labels
When shopping for parchment paper, always check the packaging for microwave-safe labels. There is usually a logo or symbol of squiggly lines inside a microwave. Not all products will provide this.
Can Parchment Paper Catch Fire in the Microwave?
Yes, parchment paper can catch fire in the microwave, even though it can handle heat up to 420°F.
The microwave itself does not heat the paper, but the food contents on the paper does. High oil & fat-based food such as bacon, can reach their flash point and ignite into a fire.
How Long Can You Microwave Parchment Paper?
This really depends on the food you're heating. Parchment paper is safe to use in the microwave for a quick reheat of your food. Stick to two minutes tops, just to be safe.
Microwaving a juicy burger with bacon for longer than two minutes could be heading into dangerous territory.
What is Parchment Paper Made From?
Parchment paper is made of cellulose fibers from different materials such as flax or wood. The paper undergoes the parchmentization process where an acid bath intertwines the fibers and seals it all together. Finally, the silicone coating is applied in order to make the paper non-stick and heat resistant.
Other Names for Parchment Paper
Another name for parchment paper is baking paper. Due to its versatility of being nonstick, odorless, and moisture-proof, bakers love utilizing parchment paper to get the best baking results.
Why Doesn't Parchment Paper Absorb Microwave Radiation?
Microwaves generate low energy radiations. Paper material does not have a permanent dipole like water, so therefore the majority of the radiation is not absorbed.
Yes! Parchment paper passes the microwave test and is safe to use as long as you follow a few safety guidelines. Make sure to double check the packaging for a microwave safe label when picking out a brand of parchment paper and avoid heating fatty foods for long periods of time.
We hope this helped with your questions...we are here to help. Please feel free to contact us with any further concerns or comments.
Founder of Robust Kitchen