Can You Microwave Ziploc bags? Is It Safe to Use or Not?

There aren’t many homes anymore that don’t have at least one box of Ziploc bags. These handy bags are convenient, reusable, and have a long shelf life that keeps food fresh for longer. 

But if you’re someone who uses them regularly, it’s essential to know about their safety standards and what you can and can’t do with them. This article will answer some common questions about using Ziploc bags in the microwave.

For reheating and defrosting food, your Ziploc bags are perfectly safe in the microwave.

Are Ziploc Bags Microwave Safe?

Yes, you can use a Ziploc bag in the microwave. However, you need to be careful about how long you leave it in there.

Ziploc bags are designed to go in the microwave. People are hesitant and this question comes up because we were all told that heating plastic can leach chemicals into our food.

Ziploc, however, did some research and found that the release of harmful chemicals from plastic only occurs when the plastics are exposed to temperatures over 1500 degrees F. Your average kitchen microwave doesn’t come close to these temperatures. So if you want to toss that bag of leftover rice in the microwave, go ahead.

As such, Ziploc states in their directions for the bags that the brand is safe for temperatures that result from defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens. The following Ziploc bags are considered microwave-safe:

  • Freezer bags
  • Vacuum-seal bags
  • double-zipper
  • Sandwich bags
  • Easy-open
  • Slider bags
  • Gallon storage
  • Stand and fill
  • 50-quart storage
  • Snack bags

Take Some Caution

There are some factors to think about despite what Ziploc and other manufacturers claim about their products. 

Related Posts  Is Hard Anodized Cookware Induction Compatible? A Clear Answer

Melting

These bags are thin plastic. Thin plastic melts at much lower temperatures. This is even more the case if you’re exposing an empty or almost empty bag to the heat.

Melted Ziplocs will ruin your food at best and burn your skin at worst.

Steam

Sealed plastic bags will hold the steam from cooking inside. This steam is extremely hot and if you don’t handle the bag accordingly you could get significantly burned.

You should always vent the bag by leaving a little hole open when microwaving it. 

What are Ziploc Bags made of?

Ziploc and other brands developed film for their bags. In this case, film means a thin plastic. 

Depending on the company, film can mean either high-density polyethylene or HDPE (recycling #2) or low-density polyethylene or LDPE (recycling #4). The numbers have to do with the polymers used in the container. Many recycling centers use these numbers to determine what’s recyclable and to organize materials. 

Ziploc bags are labeled as BPA-free and dioxin-free, but this isn’t necessarily the case with other brands. 

These two types of plastic have a softening point of around 195 degrees F (90.5 degrees C). To give you an idea, boiling water would easily melt a Ziploc bag. 

How Long Can You Microwave a Ziploc Bag?

Most of the time, you can safely microwave Ziploc bags. In fact, many people use them to reheat leftovers and store raw meats in the freezer. However, there are some instances where this isn’t recommended or safe.

The first thing to keep in mind is that not all Ziploc-like bags are created equal–some may be better than others for microwaving purposes. It’s important that you look at the label before using a bag for anything other than storing food without heating it up (or freezing). If your bag does not have “microwave safe” written on it then we recommend using another container instead! Otherwise, follow these guidelines:

  • Microwave for 1-3 minutes depending on what type of food is inside of your container and how much volume there is inside as well as how large of an item(s) they contain within said container(s). It’s best to keep the time to 30 to 40-second intervals. For example: if I’m heating up a bowl full of soup then you might microwave it longer because more liquid needs more time, but if someone were trying something else like maybe their lunchtime sandwich then they’d probably want less time. 
  • Be advised that at 3 minutes your bag may reach temperatures that will cause it to start warping
Related Posts  Can You Put a Dutch Oven in the Oven? Explained

Things to Keep in Mind When Microwaving a Ziploc Bag

Use Authentic Ziploc Bags

Ziploc is open about the polyethylene materials used to make their bags and their belief that they are microwave safe. 

Other brands use different plastics, including PVC. At high temperatures, PVC, and similar plastics can release the harmful chemical dioxin. In this case, that chemical would be released into your food.

Proper Filling

There’s a happy medium when it comes to the amount of food in the Ziploc bag when you microwave it.

Too full and you’re looking at a mess and potentially higher temperatures.

Too empty and you’re increasing the chances you’ll melt the bag.

Use a microwave-safe plate

This is a good idea for two reasons: the bags can’t stand on their own and it makes it easier to remove it from the microwave when it’s done.

In the end, should your bag leak for any reason, the plate will catch the mess. It’s not a fun meal if you have to clean up the microwave when you’re done!

Vent the Bag

As mentioned before, steam is dangerous. Unseal the bag before you put it in the microwave. Leave a little hole so the steam can escape.

This protects your hands from the dangerous steam and also prevents your bag from exploding under the pressure. 

Plus, all that steam is moisture that your food can absorb, making for a potentially soggy meal.

Lower the Power Setting

It’s best if you don’t microwave a Ziploc at full power. Lowering the setting to medium or even low will significantly decrease your chances of having any problems. 

This is important if you have one of the newer, high-powered microwaves.

Related Posts  Can You Microwave Mason Jars? A Clear and Confident Answer

Don’t Overheat Your Bag

Only microwave at 30- to 40-second intervals. This keeps your Ziploc from overheating.

Also, don’t reheat in your Ziploc more than once. Once through the microwave has already started the degrading process and doing it again can give bad results. 

What are Ziploc Bag Alternatives That Are Also Microwave Safe?

If you’re looking for an alternative to Ziploc bags, consider reusable food wraps. These alternatives are also microwave safe and can be used over and over again.

  • Tupperware or similar containers. Yes, these are also made of plastic, but a much thicker variety. They’re made to be durable and a much better option in the microwave when it comes to safety. However, they are still plastic. You don’t want to overheat these containers either. 
  • Paper. With paper products, you don’t have to worry about melting plastic or overheating it and releasing harmful chemicals. No melting and no chemicals seem like a great deal! The downside is that paper products (especially single-use) aren’t exactly a green earth option.
  • Ceramics. Microwave-safe plates and bowls are an excellent alternative. They’re designed to hold food and go in the microwave. Yes, that means more dishes to clean, but it’s safe!

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is safe to use Ziploc bags in the microwave. Use caution and only use it for defrosting and reheating food. Never try to cook food in your Ziploc bags.

It is important to keep in mind that these bags are not meant for long-term storage and should be used within a year of purchase. You should also check them regularly for cracks or tears in order to avoid any hazards from happening while cooking food inside them!

There are healthier and safer alternatives to turn to if you’re still leary about popping your Ziploc bags in the microwave.