Can You Microwave Aluminum Food Containers?

Can you reheat aluminum food containers? The quick and simple answer to this question is a resounding no.

While you might be tempted to pop an aluminum take out container into the microwave to reheat your left overs, this could be a disaster waiting to happen so do not do it!

If you’re still curious as to why this is an extremely bad idea, continue reading as we explore the matter.

What is Aluminum?

Before we get into why microwaving aluminum is a recipe for disaster, however, let’s take a look at what Aluminum really is.

Aluminum is made from the naturally occurring mineral bauxite. Bauxite is a common ore that is found in many tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Earth. It is mined across several countries including Jamaica, Guyana, Australia, and many others. The mineral is very valuable because of its ability to be transformed into alumina and eventually the common aluminum material.

Aluminum is extracted from bauxite by a heating process known as smelting. Once the refined aluminum is processed, it goes on to the next stage which is where its retrofitted to make products that include pots and pans, weapons, vehicle parts and other technology including foil.

Aluminum foil was first invented in France around the year 1903 and became a replacement foe tin foil (another metal ore). Aluminum quickly became popular because of its durability and the fact that it did not alter the taste of the food it was used to package. The earlier tin foil would alter the taste of food that it was used to package.

Aluminum foil is the most common aluminum packaging product in today’s modern world. It is an extremely versatile core material that can be fashioned into a variety of products for home and other uses.

When it comes to the food industry, aluminum foil is one of the common packaging choices for takeout. There are many types of takeout containers that use aluminum, especially in the baking sector.

The advantages of using aluminum foil are that it is tough, waterproof, non-toxic and recyclable. Foil packages vary in thicknesses depending on the purpose for its use. 

Related: Can You Microwave Styrofoam?

Can You Microwave Aluminum Takeout Containers?

Should you be microwaving Aluminum Takeout Containers and what happens when you do this?

So we’ve already established that this is probably not a good or safe idea. The question though is why? Simply put, it’s a major fire risk and could lead to an explosion.

Sheets of metal – aluminum and others – bounce the microwaves (the actual waves given off by the appliance that transmit heat) around. This leads to heat and electric current that is supposed to heat the contents being reflected off the container’s surface.

If you’ve ever accidentally microwaved a sandwich wrapped in aluminum foil lined wrapper, then you know that the metal can produce some serious sparks and lots of smoke. Not only does this leave your food smelling all smoky, the sparks could cause the food to catch fire. The propensity for fire becomes even greater if the food is oily or fatty. In addition, the sparks can cause the microwave to short out, damaging the appliance or destroying it completely.

Related: Can You Microwave Tupperware?

So What’s the Verdict on Aluminum in the Microwave?

Unless you’re actively trying to start a house fire, then stay far away from the microwave with that aluminum container. Like oil and water, they just don’t mix. The radio waves emitted by microwaves are really not compatible with aluminum based containers.

While containers such as glass, plastic, and ceramic materials allow the radio waves to be absorbed by the sugar, fat, and water molecules in your food, causing their subsequent heating, aluminum is not a good conductor. It essentially repels the waves and bounces them around, which leads to sparks that potentially cause fires.

So again, do not take the chance of trying to heat food in aluminum takeout containers. Remove the food and reheat in a microwave safe container! 

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