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Can You Microwave Paper Cups? Risks & Safety Tips

starbucks paper cup

Perhaps you just took a drink and realized your drink is a bit too cold, or maybe you’re looking to heat up a snack and a paper cup is all you could find to put it in. Can you put a paper cup in the microwave, or do you need to hunt for another container before heating the contents?

Whatever you do, don’t put a paper cup in the microwave. There are a few reasons this is a bad idea, but it’s not something you’ll want to risk.

divider 4 Can You Microwave Paper Cups

If you’re thinking about putting a paper cup inside the microwave, think again. While paper cups can handle hot liquids and foods, they can’t handle the extreme temperatures that a microwave throws at them.

This is because paper cups have moisture-resistant coatings and adhesives holding them together, and the extreme heat generated by the microwave can break down that coating and adhesive.

In short, don’t put paper cups in the microwave. Find a microwave-safe ceramic or plastic to move the contents of the cup to and heat the contents that way.

microwave under the kitchen counter
Image By: Andrea Davis, Unsplash

Risks of Microwaving a Paper Cup

If you’re thinking about microwaving a plastic cup, don’t. There are several reasons it’s a bad idea, and we’ll break each of them down for you here:

You’ll Make a Mess

While paper cups can handle the heat of a hot drink, the microwave directly heats the adhesive. As this happens, it breaks down the adhesive and causes the cup to fall apart. When this happens, you don’t have a cup anymore; you have a paper mess, and the cup’s contents are all over the inside of the microwave.

cleaning microwave oven
Image By:, Shutterstock

The Contents Won’t Taste Right

When you heat up the adhesive and moisture-resistant coating, it’ll seep into your food and drink. You’re not supposed to eat or drink that stuff, and it’s going to leave a bad taste. You don’t want to eat or drink something that tastes bad, let alone something that could be damaging to your health.

Health Concerns

Even if you’re lucky enough for your drink not to fall apart and the contents of your drink do taste all right, that doesn’t mean the chemicals on the cup didn’t seep into your drink or food. You’re drinking or eating those chemicals, which can lead to long-term health problems.

man using microwave
Image By: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Fire Hazard

When you heat paper too much it combusts, and the last thing you want is to look into your microwave to see it up in flames. But whenever you put paper in the microwave, you risk a fire.

divider 1 Other Microwave Safety Tips

While you shouldn’t put a paper cup inside a microwave, there are a few other safety tips you should follow whenever you’re using a microwave.

1. Always Close the Door

Giant microwave in 80s kitchen
Image Credit: Vlad Zaytsev, Unsplash

Microwaves use radiation to heat things, and the microwave door is the only thing standing between you and those harmful rays. While a microwave shouldn’t operate at all with an open door, if the microwave is malfunctioning, you might be able to turn it on. Even if you can, don’t do it.

2. Don’t Microwave Metal

Just like you can’t microwave paper, you can’t put metal in the microwave either. Metal can spark and create all kinds of problems if you put it in the microwave. Some metals are fine but look specifically for markings that say it’s microwave-safe before considering it.

3. Be Careful With Water

woman filling glass from water cooler
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

When microwaving water, you need to be extremely careful. If you’re not careful you can superheat water, meaning it’s past the boiling point but not boiling. As soon as you disturb the water, it “explodes” out and can lead to severe burns.

4. Don’t Microwave Sealed Containers

Things need space to vent when you put them in the microwave. Whether you’re heating up food in a Tupperware container or something else entirely, ensure you open it up a bit so it can vent before using it.

5. Let Things Cool Down

When you use a microwave, things don’t always heat up evenly, leaving you with scorching hot spots in one area and cold spots in another. This is just part of using a microwave, and you need to keep it in mind when using one.

Things come out of a microwave extremely hot in spots, so give them time to cool down after you take them out.

Paper Cup
Image Credit: Pixabay

divider 4 Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking about putting a paper cup in the microwave, think again. There are a few reasons it’s a bad idea and you shouldn’t risk it.

Look for something microwave-safe, and don’t take the convenience of a microwave for granted. All it takes is one bad experience and you can send things up in flames!

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: nnguyen21, Pixabay


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