I have seen so many microwaves in past 12 years, so I know everything about them. Many times, people ask me “Can I put a metal bowl in the microwave?” and I have to answer it correctly as they trust me. For a short answer, I just say “Don’t use it.”
Actually, not all metal bowls are microwave-safe and not all of them are prohibited. But people don’t have enough time to listen to me for longer, so I reply in short. Moreover, there are many different bowls available and they are microwave-safe, so no need to stick on metal bowls only.
How Does a Microwave Cook the Food?
A microwave generates electromagnetic radiation microwaves of heat that bounce inside the unit to cook the food. The microwave walls are mostly metallic, so the micro heat waves stay inside. The heat waves penetrate the food container/bowl to heat up the food from all directions.
The food stuff inside absorbs the heat and get cooked slowly. In addition, the heat microwaves vibrate the water molecules in the food which also produces heat to cook the food faster. So, this is how a microwave cooks the food with electromagnetic heat waves.
Can You Put a Metal Bowl in the Microwave?
No, you cannot put a metal bowl in the microwave as it is neither microwave-safe nor convenient for the food. Some metal bowls and containers are safe to put in a microwave and many others are not. Using a metal bowl can cause fire hazard, that’s why I strictly advice not to use it.
The electromagnetic heat microwaves cannot penetrate metal, so the waves can’t cook the food from any side. If you put a metal bowl in the microwave, the heat waves can cook the food from the top only. It will take longer period of time to get the food ready.
I have met some people who use metal bowls and containers in the microwave. They claim that they have used it several times and nothing happened, it’s because either their metal bowl is microwave-safe or they have a good luck.
It is possible that putting a metal bowl in the microwave doesn’t cause any trouble but it has the risk. If it’s not happened for a few times, doesn’t mean it can never happen. The accidents happen rarely but they cause permanent damage. So, there is no point of using a metal bowl in the microwave.
Why Should You Not Put a Metal Bowl in the Microwave?
You should not put a metal bowl in the microwave because it is unsafe for the microwave and the food. There are many reasons for which you should never put a metal bowl or container in your microwave. Here I provide all major reasons for not using a metal bowl in the microwave as under.
Can’t Cook Food Properly:
As you turn on the microwave, it releases electromagnetic radiation to flow microwaves in the cooking area. The microwaves bounce inside the unit to penetrate the bowl/container to heat up the food from all sides.
The consistent stream of heat cooks the food faster and better but it’s not possible with a metal bowl. Because the heat microwaves cannot penetrate the metal, so they can’t reach to the food from sides. It means that the food can get heat waves from the top only and not anywhere else.
The microwave can prepare the food faster because its heat waves cook the food from all sides. The metal doesn’t allow the heat waves to pass through which makes it difficult for the microwave. So, the food will take longer to get cooked yet some portion of the food may remain uncooked.
Metallic Taste in Food:
Most metal bowls and containers come with a protective coating but some are uncoated. If you put an uncoated metal bowl in the microwave then it will affect the food. The microwaves will transfer the metallic taste in the food during the cooking process.
The low quality metal bowls can affect the food taste after staying inside the microwave for a few minutes. The metallic taste in the food is neither delicious nor safe to eat. So, you should definitely avoid putting a metal bowl in the microwave to keep your food taste normal.
Cause Arcing and Fire Hazard:
A metal bowl in the microwave can cause sparks of fire that can lead to arcing if the bowl has jagged or sharp edges. The consistent sparks and arcing can lead to fire hazard that will damage the microwave.
If there is something inflammable near the metal bowl inside microwave, it can catch fire. It can be a small flame of fire that you can easily manage or it can be a big flame of fire that can burn the whole microwave oven.
May Explode the Microwave:
The explosion is not prone to happen every time you put a metal bowl in the microwave. But there is a possibility of explosion if you put an aluminum foil or utensils or delicate china bowl/container with metal trim. All these bowls have too many sharp edges that can cause a fire explosion in the microwave.
Damage the Microwave Circuit:
The microwaves cannot penetrate the metal as I said earlier. The metal prevents the microwaves to pass through it which causes a longer cooking process. It also causes a mirror effect of microwaves, the microwaves can’t pass through the bowl or food, so they hit the interior walls of the microwave.
The mirror effect of microwaves heat up the interior of the microwave to a higher level. It is not too risky in short term but it can damage the microwave oven circuit in the long run. So, if you keep using non-penetrative metal bowl in your microwave for several months, it will damage the oven circuit.
Leave Scratches & Dents on Turntable:
Most microwaves come with a glass turntable to hold the food bowl/container. The turntable rotates in 360-degree to allow the heat waves to cook the food from all directions. The metal bowl can leave scratches and dents on the turntable in the long run.
You need to be very careful when putting a metal bowl on the glass turntable in the microwave. It can cause scratches if the bottom of metal bowl rubs with the glass turntable. The same issue does not happen with a glass or plastic bowl.
Alternatives are Available:
I have explained different reasons for which you should not put a metal bowl in the microwave. The last reason is that there are many alternatives available that are safer than a metal bowl. The alternatives include glass, paper, Tupperware, polypropylene, polyethylene plastic and aluminum with some instructions.
When you have so many alternatives of metal bowls then why would you choose metal? The glass and Tupperware bowls are popular among microwave users. I would suggest you to choose any of the alternatives of metal bowls and use it to keep yourself and your microwave safe.
In this way, there are seven important reasons that convince you not to put a glass bowl in the microwave for your own safety.
Can You Put a Stainless Steel Bowl in the Microwave?
No, you cannot put a stainless steel bowl in the microwave because the stainless steel is a kind of metal. If a metal bowl is dangerous, a stainless steel bowl is equally dangerous. It may have coating to protect against fire hazards but they may or may not be effective at high temperatures.
The microwaves cannot penetrate stainless steel bowl, so the heat can’t reach to the food from sides. As a result, you may need to increase the cooking temperature still it will take longer to get the food ready.
Putting a stainless steel bowl in the microwave does not always result in a fire hazard. But it wastes your valuable time. If the steel bowl has jagged or sharp edges, the chances of arcing and fire hazard are equal as with the metal bowl.
Cooking food in a stainless steel bowl in the microwave can also add some metallic taste in your food. Therefore I strongly recommend not to use a stainless steel bowl or any metal bowl in the microwave for safe cooking.
What Type of Bowl/Container is Safe to Put in the Microwave?
The glass bowl, plastic bowl, paper plate and paper towel are safe to put in the microwave. When you buy a new microwave oven, you have this question in your mind. Putting a bowl in the microwave and regret later is not you want to do. So, what type of bowl is safe to put in the microwave? Let me answer this with some microwave-safe bowls and containers that I use.
The glass bowls are the best option for microwave users. The glass is safe and can handle high temperature inside microwave. Moreover, it allows the microwaves to pass through to cook the food evenly without any restriction.
The glass bowl does not cause any spark or arcing issues, so there are no chances of fire. The heat inside the microwave doesn’t burn the glass bowl and the glass doesn’t affect the taste of food. You should double check if the glass bowl is painted otherwise it is safe to use in the microwave.
Plastic Bowl (Polypropylene, Polyethylene and Tupperware):
After glass, plastic bowls and containers are the most used stuff for putting food in the microwave. The plastic bowls are made of either polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene (PE) or Tupperware, all of them are microwave-safe.
Most plastic bowls are sturdy enough to withstand high temperature heat waves of the microwave. Moreover, the plastic allows microwaves to pass through to cook the food and there is zero risk of fire as the plastic doesn’t cause sparks.
Kindly note that single-use plastic bowls, containers, cups and plates are not microwave-safe. In case somebody claims that they are safe, you should verify it in the user manual of your microwave.
Paper Plates and Paper Towels
The paper plates and paper towels without any plastic coating are safe to use in the microwave. The food parts or liquid may stick on the plate or turntable, while paper plate prevents such messy things.
Most microwaves allow paper plates and paper towels still it is good to check if your microwave allows them. Moreover, a paper plate with a thin layer of plastic coating is not recommended to put in the microwave.
Aluminum Bowl (with Safety Instructions):
Many experts recommend to use an aluminum bowl for cooking in the microwave with safety guidelines. Here I provide the safety guidelines/instructions for using an aluminum bowl for cooking food in the microwave oven.
- Put only one aluminum bowl at a time.
- Remove the lid to keep the aluminum bowl open in the microwave.
- Cover the base of the aluminum bowl with food.
- Keep the bowl in the middle of the microwave interior.
- The edges of aluminum bowl must not touch microwave walls.
If you strictly follow above guidelines then you can put an aluminum bowl in the microwave. It will be completely safe and your food will be ready to eat on time.
What Type of Bowl/Container is Not Safe to Put in the Microwave?
The metal bowl, crystal bowl, home pottery bowl and mixing metal bowls are not safe to put in the microwave. Before you put a bowl to cook your food in the microwave oven, you should know if that bowl is microwave-safe or not.
Here I provide some types of bowls and containers that are not safe for putting in the microwave. So, you should not use any of these bowls to avoid fire hazard and other damages to your microwave oven.
Metal Bowl (Stainless Steel, Iron, Aluminum, Ceramic and Other Metal):
The metal does not allow the heat waves/microwaves to pass through it. So, the metal bowl won’t allow the heat to cook the food from sides. In addition, the metal bowl with jagged edges can cause sparks and arcing that can catch fire to damage the microwave.
Some ceramic bowls are safe for putting in the microwave but not all ceramic bowls are safe. It is possible that the high temperature inside the microwave may break the ceramic. So, it is better not to use it.
The stainless steel, iron and aluminum bowl can bear high temperature but the heat waves can’t pass through them. So, it will take more than needed time to cook the food.
Mixing Metal Bowl:
The mixing metal bowl is similar to the metal bowl, it does not allow the microwaves to pass through it. So, the heat can reach to the food from sides and it can cook it from the top only. The mixing metal bowl with jagged edges can cause arcing that will lead to fire hazard or explosion in the microwave.
Crystal Bowl and Home Pottery Bowl:
The crystal bowl and home pottery bowl may not bear the increased heat level inside the microwave. Therefore I suggest not to use them for the safety of your microwave and your family.
Aluminum Foil and Steel Wool Pads:
The aluminum foil keeps the food safe and fresh but it is not microwave-safe. It has so many sharp edges that cause sparks and arcing. The chances of fire hazard are more if you put the food in an aluminum foil in the microwave. The steel wool pads are not microwave-safe, so avoid using them too.
You should not use any bowl that you are not sure if it is microwave-safe. You may wonder how you can know about it, right? Well, I have a solution for that.
How Do I Know If my Bowl is Safe for the Microwave?
You can check the microwave-safe symbol to know if a bowl is safe for the microwave or not. There is a specific symbol that indicates that the bowl is safe to put in the microwave. This symbol is located at the bottom of the bowl or container.
There are six different symbols given in the above picture. You should check the bottom of a bowl/container to know if it has one of the above symbols on it or not. If there is no symbol of microwave-safe given on a bowl, I strictly advise not to put it in the microwave.
FAQs about Putting a Metal Bowl in the Microwave
Using a bowl for cooking food in the microwave isn’t as simple as using it on the gas stove. Because the microwave generates heat waves that are not suitable for some bowl types and you have so many doubts about it. Here I provide some FAQs about putting a metal bowl in the microwave as under.
Q.1 What kind of metal can go in a microwave?
Any kind of metal cannot go in a microwave as the metal is not safe for putting in a microwave. The microwaves cannot penetrate the metal which interrupts the cooking process and its jagged edges cause arcing that may lead to fire hazard.
Q.2 Can I put a stainless steel bowl in a microwave?
No, you cannot put a stainless steel bowl in a microwave as it is not microwave-safe. It can cause longer cooking time as well as sparks & fire hazard.
Q.3 Can you put an aluminum bowl in the microwave?
Yes, you can put an aluminum bowl in the microwave with the safety guidelines given below.
- Don’t cover the bowl with a lid and put only 1 bowl in the microwave.
- Make sure the bowl edges are not touching inner walls of the microwave.
- Spread food properly to cover the base of the aluminum bowl.
- Put the aluminum bowl in the center.
Q.4 Can you put mixing bowls in the microwave?
No, you cannot put mixing bowls in the microwave as they aren’t safe. You should put a glass bowl or a plastic bowl that is microwave-safe.
Summary: Have a Safe Cooking
The use of metal bowls is not always harmful but it is not recommended. The main reason is low-penetration of heat on metal that restricts the cooking process. So, it is better to choose a microwave-safe bowl that allows faster cooking and doesn’t cause safety issues.
Some metal bowls and containers leave metallic taste on food which can ruin your lunch/dinner time. On the other hand, the glass bowls and plastic bowls provide 100% safe and effective cooking in the microwave.
At the time of choosing a bowl/container, you should check if it has the microwave-safe symbol or not. The symbol is given at the bottom of the bowl and don’t put a bowl in the microwave if it doesn’t have microwave-safe symbol on it.