Wax paper (sometimes known as waxed paper) is a special type of paper product – special because it has been reinforced with wax. This makes it moisture-proof and can keep away splatter from your food while cooking. You should also know that the USDA deems wax paper safe and recommends it over plastic and polystyrene for microwaving.
For the most part, wax paper remains unaffected by heat from microwaves. The heat that microwaves produce isn’t enough to ‘burn’ wax paper. As a result, wax paper is quite popular among chefs who employ it as a wrap while microwave cooking.
So the answer to the question ‘can you microwave wax paper?’ is a resounding ‘yes!’
If you want to know more about microwaving with wax paper, this is the article you need to read. In just a couple of minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to know about microwaving wax paper, including the best way to use it. I’ll also explain what materials you absolutely shouldn’t use in the microwave.
- 1 Can You Heat Up Wax Paper?
- 2 Can You Microwave Wax Paper?
- 3 How Long Can You Microwave Wax Paper?
- 4 Tips for Using Wax Paper in the Microwave
- 5 Related Questions
Can You Heat Up Wax Paper?
Whether you can heat up waxed paper depends on how much heat you want to apply.
Wax paper is just paper with a very thin protective layer of wax coating on either side. While its resistance to moisture is particularly impressive, the same cannot be said of its heat resistance. Wax, by its nature, has a low melting point. At low temperatures, your wax paper and your cooking will be fine.
However, once the temperature gets higher than the melting point of the wax, the thin coat of wax on each side of the paper will begin to melt. This is not all; if the temperature gets to the combustion point of the paper, the paper itself will catch fire and burn. And to make it worse, the wax will serve as fuel to hasten the burning process.
Therefore, while it is true that you can heat up wax paper, you should be mindful of the amount of heat you apply, or else you’ll burn the wax paper and spoil the delicacy you’re trying so hard to make perfect.
Can You Microwave Wax Paper?
So, if it is possible to heat wax paper only to a certain extent, can you microwave it?
To answer this question, I’ll briefly describe how the microwave works. Unlike your conventional oven, microwave ovens don’t have heating elements. It is your food that generates its own heat, not the microwave.
How? What the microwave does is produce microwaves that penetrate your food, causing the tiny, invisible particles in the food to vibrate against one another. It is this vibration that causes the food to hear up.
If you still don’t understand how this happens, try rubbing your palms together for a few seconds and put them against your cheeks. What do you notice?
Since microwaves don’t come fitted with heating elements, they cannot produce a high amount of heat like ovens or water heaters. Moreover, you cannot regulate the temperature of microwave ovens. For as long as the microwave remains on, the food molecules will also continue to vibrate, and the amount of heat will keep increasing in turn. And what becomes of the food inside eventually? It either changes state or burns. Don’t worry. It will take a good while before any of this happens.
Is It Safe to Microwave Waxed Paper?
It is safe to microwave Wax paper.
Nevertheless, you have to set the timer of your microwave to such a time that the maximum temperature inside is still below the melting point of the wax. You may also want to reduce the wattage of the microwave for a slower but more evenly cooked meal.
And, even if you forget to set a timer and the wax coating melts into your food, the wax is food-grade and won’t cause you any harm. However, you may not fancy the taste it imparts on your food.
How Long Can You Microwave Wax Paper?
Okay, there’s no temperature control for microwaves. Ultimately, regulating the amount of heat for your cooking boils down to the timer setting. Remember that the longer your food spends inside the microwave, the hotter it is. Also, remember that wax has a low melting point. How do you reconcile this?
From my experience, it is best to run the microwave for about two to three minutes at a time. If you’re not satisfied with the result, allow the wax paper to cool down for a minute or two and then heat your food again.
Tips for Using Wax Paper in the Microwave
If you’re going to be using wax paper for your microwave cooking, you will find these tips helpful;
- Only buy quality, food-grade wax paper. This is necessary to guarantee your safety in case the wax melts into your food. With quality wax paper, you don’t need to throw your food away when the wax melts.
- Wax paper is best for steam-based foods. Avoid using it with oils and fats. Fats and oils tend to attain very high temperatures in a short time. Therefore, wax paper is not ideal for them.
- Wax paper is quite versatile. You can use it as a lid to cover containers and prevent food spill out while microwaving. This makes it useful for reheating leftovers or defrosting frozen food. Its non-stick surface will prevent your food from sticking to it. Additionally, you can use it to line the inside of your container for stress-free cleanup after cooking. In this regard, wax paper will come in handy when you’re grilling or making mug cake.
- Wax paper makes an excellent alternative to freezer paper, butcher paper, or plastic wrap when freezing foods for longer-term storage.
- When microwaving, make sure that you cover your food completely. Wax paper is waterproof and highly effective in preventing water from splattering from the container into the microwave oven. This saves you a lot of cleaning time as your microwave will remain in pristine condition after cooking, and you’ll only need minimal cleaning.
When Should You Use Wax Paper?
You should use wax paper in the microwave if you’re microwaving for a short period. Wax paper will burn if the temperature of the food goes above its combustion point. By that time, the wax would have melted into your food already. Hence, wax paper is typically ideal for microwaving leftovers and small amounts of food that don’t take much time to cook.
Meanwhile, microwaving for short periods does not always guarantee that your wax paper will remain unaffected. The nature of food you’re making also plays a significant role. The increase in temperature of some food is rapid and they can reach very high temperatures in a matter of seconds. Sugar and oil-based foods are particularly notorious for this. Hence you should use wax paper only when microwaving steam-based foods that cook quickly.
For oil-based foods and foods that take a long time to cook, you can use parchment paper instead of wax paper.
What Materials Are not Safe to Use in the Microwave?
It is common to see ‘microwave safe’ on products we buy. But are they all really microwave safe?
For different reasons, many materials just aren’t safe for the microwave. These reasons range from their likelihood to cause electrical hazards, or catch fire, to them being poisonous when heated in the microwave.
There are lots of them around you. And I bet you have been using some of them in your microwave without knowing. Well, you don’t need to ride your luck any longer. Here are some of the materials you shouldn’t put inside the microwave;
Eggs, grapes, hot peppers: These are likely to explode if you keep them in the microwave for long. Cleaning the resultant mess will take away time that you can spend on more meaningful and rewarding activities.
Plastics/styrofoam: Not all plastics are safe. Styrofoam particularly isn’t. Some plastics are labeled ‘microwave safe’. If you can’t find the label, just don’t microwave it. Better safe than sorry!
Aluminum foil/objects with metallic parts: Aluminum foil and other metals can catch fire if you use them in your microwave. You have been warned!
Can You Microwave Wax Paper Cups?
No. Don’t microwave wax paper cups. They are not designed to withstand the intense heat of the microwave.
At high temperatures, they begin to melt and leak. And even if the melting is not enough to make them leak, some of the melted materials would have mixed with your food. These materials are actually toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your health.
Can You Microwave Paper Plates?
It depends. In most cases, you shouldn’t use paper plates for microwave cooking. This is because the materials used to coat the paper can be toxic and leach into your food.
There is also the risk that certain paper plates can catch fire when used in the microwave.
However, some paper plates are microwave safe. You can learn more about microwaving a paper plate in this article.