When it’s time to warm food up in the microwave, you may find yourself wondering, “Can wax paper go in the microwave?” In this article, we’ll share whether or not it’s safe to put wax paper in the microwave and practical tips for how to properly reheat leftovers without worrying about toxic substances getting on your food.
Can wax paper go in the microwave?
Yes, you can put wax paper in the microwave as long as it is labeled as microwave safe. According to the USDA, it is safer to use paper products as opposed to plastic or polystyrene, such as styrofoam, when you are reheating food in the microwave.
Microwave-safe wax paper is lined with food-grade wax that makes it safe to use. This type of wax coating is not harmful to you or the food that is placed on it. The paraffin wax coating allows food not to stick on it.
Wax paper can be used in a variety of ways in the microwave. You can use it as a cover over a dish, as a nonstick surface under the food you are preparing, or as a pouch to steam foods. This product is versatile and as long as it is labeled microwave safe, microwaving wax paper is safe and easy to do.
Microwaves emit low-energy radiation that is absorbed by the foods and turned into heat for cooking it. The molecular makeup of substances such as fats, sugars, oil, and water, all of which are commonly found in food, allows microwave absorption to occur. This is how microwave cooking works. The cooking temperature gets hot enough to warm up the food so that it can safely be consumed.
The microwave air moves through the wax paper, which allows the radiation to pass through without creating any problems. Microwave radiation typically does not heat up wax paper to a point where it could catch fire or melt. However, if the wax paper is left in the microwave oven for too long, it could potentially melt.
Benefits of using wax paper
Wax paper is used in a variety of ways in cooking and baking. Most commonly, wax paper is used to keep food from sticking to a cooking surface such as a pan or a dish. This greatly helps with the cleanup process as the disposable nonstick surface can easily be removed and discarded after being used.
Similarly, wax paper is also used for storing leftovers. Instead of putting the food in a container and then using wax paper as a lid, you may be able to just wrap the food in the wax paper, depending on the type of food it is. For example, if you have some fudge or cheese that you need to store, you can just wrap the wax paper around the food itself without dirtying a pan or container.
Wax paper is also often used to cover food that is being stored or as a method to prevent splattering when reheating. This helps with the cleanup process as it reduces the number of surfaces that need to be wiped down as a result of food popping or splattering while being warmed up in the microwave.
Another benefit of using wax paper is its efficiency. Covering a dish with wax paper will help the food retain the heat more efficiently. Essentially, the wax paper covering allows the food to heat up faster but it does not create a steaming effect that can alter the flavor or texture of the food. Warming up food faster means you can enjoy your food quicker.
Wax paper uses in the microwave
There are a variety of ways that you can use wax paper in the microwave. The most common is as a covering or a lid. For this, you would place the food in a microwave-safe container or dish and then cover the top with wax paper. This prevents spills or splatters from making a mess while the food is being warmed up. It also makes clean up a breeze.
Another option is to make a pouch or cooking bags from the wax paper. This allows you to make a wide variety of food items without the need for an additional container or dish. Instead, the wax paper pouch holds the food and is placed in the microwave. This is suitable for preparing foods such as vegetables, potatoes, and even salmon.
If you are cooking greasy foods in the microwave, you may want to use wax paper as a plate liner. A good example of this is bacon. However, you should be aware that the high-fat content will increase the temperature, and the wax may melt into the food.
Wax paper can also be used to steam foods. If you are looking for an easy method of steaming vegetables, consider covering them with wax paper and putting the dish in the microwave.
Easy and practical tips for using wax paper
Check for metal flecks
This is a major safety concern. You should check for any metal flecks on wax paper before putting it in the microwave. This is especially important if you use a piece of wax paper more than once. Metal, including metal pans, cannot be used in the microwave, and even metal flecks can pose a fire hazard if they catch fire.
Such residual metal flecks could come from the inside of the oven or a baking sheet if you use the wax paper as a pan liner. Look at your wax paper closely before putting it in the microwave.
Use wax paper as a pan liner
Wax paper is a great option as a pan liner. This will allow for a mess-free cleanup process that is easy and fast.
Use wax paper to help food defrost
If you need to defrost your food in the microwave, you can use a sheet of wax paper to help the process. By covering the food items with wax paper, you are promoting even heating of the food. The wax paper will not stick to the food, so you do not have to worry about that. Additionally, the wax paper will help trap in the heat, which makes the defrosting process even more efficient.
Use wax paper to help with clean up
If you are working with dough and baking products, consider putting some wax paper down on your countertop or workspace. This will allow you to spread flour and dough all over without having to worry about the mess. When you are done, just pick up the corners of the wax paper and throw it in the trash.
Use a reputable brand
If you are worried about the quality of the wax paper since it will be in contact with your food, you can opt to buy from a reputable brand that is well known for its quality of materials and safety standards. By choosing a brand used by food experts, you can be more confident in the durability of the product.
While wax paper is safe for microwave use, you do need to consider the type of food being warmed up and the temperatures when determining how long the wax paper can safely stay in the microwave.
Foods with fatty tissues or oily foods will heat up easier. They will also reach higher temperatures quicker than water-based foods. Because of the intense heating capacity, the wax coating on the wax paper can melt.
The specific heat capacity of fats and sugars is lower and these foods can reach higher temperatures than other types of foods. Because of this, if you are microwaving foods with a lot of fats or sugars, you do not have to reheat them for a long time when you are using wax paper covers.
If you are using a convection microwave, the fan may cause your wax paper to blow around. To prevent the paper from blowing away, you should cut the wax paper a little larger than needed so that you can tuck it under the food item or container to properly keep it in place.
Wax paper versus parchment paper
While the two are often thought of as similar, there are important differences between wax paper and parchment paper or baking paper. One key difference is the coating. While wax paper has a paraffin wax coating, parchment paper has a silicone coating.
The differences in the coating affect how you can safely use each product as well. At high temperatures, wax paper will melt or could even catch on fire. For this reason, wax paper is not oven safe.
Parchment paper is more heat resistant than wax paper. The silicone coating allows parchment paper to withstand longer sessions in the microwave without melting.
Related: Can You Put Styrofoam in the Oven?
At extreme temperatures, wax paper will melt. While there can be variations, the melting point of the wax is typically around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why wax papers are safe for the microwave but not the oven. It is unlikely that the microwave would apply this amount of direct heat to the paper. However, an oven or a toaster oven certainly could.
Wax paper is better suited for cold temperatures, such as storing food or separating layers of food, than for extreme heat. Microwaving food with wax paper liners or covering is acceptable though.
Can wax paper go in the microwave FAQ
Can you warm up food safely in the microwave with wax paper?
Yes, wax paper is safe to use in the microwave as long as it is designated as microwave safe.
What can wax paper be used for?
Wax paper is great for a variety of purposes. You can wrap foods for storage, enjoy a mess free clean up by lining just about anything with wax paper, or use it as a lid to cover a container for storage or heating food.
Does wax paper undergo a bleaching process?
There are bleached and unbleached types of wax paper. While some argue that the dioxins that are present in chlorine-bleached wax paper are negligible, the World Health Organization reports that dioxins can cling to fatty substances for over 7 years. If you are concerned about this, opt to buy the unbleached type of waxed paper.
Can aluminum foil or plastic wrap be placed in the microwave?
Can you put a plastic bag in the microwave? No, you should not put dishes covered in aluminum foil or plastic wraps in microwave ovens. If you want to reheat items in food containers, use wax paper or parchment paper to cover the food storage container and prevent spills or splatters from making a big mess.