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Use Aluminum Foil Container In A Microwave Oven

heating food with a foil container in the microwave oven

Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by Aikou Foil

To echo the principles of environmental friendliness, you’ll now find more and more ready-to-cook foods on supermarket shelves packaged in disposable aluminum foil pans. Even some ready-to-eat bentos follow suit, but what sets them apart is their aluminum foil packaging containers, which look quite upscale and proudly declare their suitability for microwave safe.

In the general public’s understanding, metal utensils are a no-go in the microwave oven, so why the exception for these fancy new aluminum foil containers?

heating food with a foil container in the microwave oven
heating food with a foil container in the microwave oven

How Microwave Oven Works On Heating Food

The microwave oven generates microwaves (a type of electromagnetic wave) that penetrate food, causing water molecules to vibrate rapidly. The vibration of water molecules creates friction, generating heat to warm the food. The design of the microwave allows the microwaves to uniformly penetrate the food and induce vibrations in water molecules throughout the oven cavity. Therefore, microwave ovens are generally faster and more evenly heated compared to traditional cooking methods, making them a more efficient choice.

Why Use The Traditional Silver Foil Pan In The Microwave Oven Will Lead To Fire

Real-life experiences and many videos online tell a fact: putting traditional disposable silver aluminum foil trays in the microwave oven can lead to a terrifying transformation, ultimately even causing a fire.

This is because microwaves are a form of electromagnetic wave, and when they reach the surface of the metal, they cause the electrons to vibrate, generating an electric current. Disposable aluminum foil trays belong to the category of metal containers, and this current rapidly travels on their surface, easily causing localized discharges and sparking at the edges of the container. This not only risks burning the food but can also damage the microwave itself.

Traditional disposable silver aluminum foil trays, with their edges designed with many folds to better match the paper cover, are particularly prone to sparking during microwave use. To make matters worse, aluminum foil itself has a low melting point and is flammable, increasing the risk of a fire.

New Microwave Safe Disposable Foil Containers

The new generation of disposable aluminum foil containers has overcome the challenges of microwave usage, making the heating of pre-made meals even more convenient and speedy. This is achieved primarily through two key features:

  1. A special coating is applied to the surface of the aluminum foil container, enhancing food safety while preventing direct contact of microwaves with the metal surface.
  2. Unlike the traditional silver ones, the surface of the new disposable aluminum foil containers is smooth, and free of any wrinkles, reducing the risk of microwave-induced currents and the possibility of sparks from collisions with the current.

*”Conducted on behalf of the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) with the support of the Aluminium Foil Container Manufacturers Association (AFCMA) the study concluded, “Microwave heating of food packaged in aluminium foil trays or in plastic containers with aluminium foil or aluminium laminated lids is perfectly viable.” No hazardous results or damage to ovens were found in the more than 200 food portions that were heated in aluminium foil containers or packs containing aluminium foil. Thomas Pfeiffer, the study’s author, said, “The Fraunhofer Institute conducted the heating procedures with the microwave ovens set at maximum power and there was not a single case of damage to the microwave ovensor danger to the users.””* – alufoil

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Precautions For Use

Despite breakthroughs in technology allowing the use of new disposable aluminum foil containers for heating food in the microwave oven, here are a few points to keep in mind:

  1. Avoid covering the container with a lid as it may hinder microwaves from reaching the food, leading to heating failure.
  2. Opt for flat-shaped disposable aluminum foil trays. Since microwaves cannot penetrate aluminum foil, excessive height may also impede proper heating.
  3. Do not cover the container with aluminum foil paper; untreated aluminum foil cannot withstand microwave heating and poses a risk of causing a fire.
  4. Ensure the container is placed in the center of the microwave’s glass turntable, at a sufficient distance from the oven walls, and that it won’t touch the walls when rotating during work.