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Can You Microwave Solo Cups? Risks & Safety Tips

group of friends holding red cups

A microwave is a handy kitchen appliance for heating various foods and beverages. Commonly, when people microwave food, they use a ceramic or a glass dish. Cups and bowls made from plastic are not meant to resist high heat, which is why they are usually unsafe from using in the microwave. Placing plastic, such as solo cups, inside this appliance will quickly cause it to melt, spilling all over the microwave floor and possibly causing permanent damage. In short, no, you should not microwave solo cups.

It is crucial to follow some basic safety tips when using solo cups, and in the article below, you can find out why.

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What Are Solo Cups?

Solo cups are a national symbol of US parties and gatherings, being used for more than three decades. They gained massive popularity in the 70s and have been used ever since. They are distinctive by their bright red color, which is a timeless standard for these plastic cups. They are perfect for all types of beverages, such as soda, water, alcoholic drinks, cocktails, juice, and more. The main reason they became an ideal companion for most parties is their convenience and ease of disposal. They are incredibly lightweight and perfect for one-time use.

While these cups have wide use, they are not made to handle high temperatures and extreme heat. Continue reading to learn about the risks of heating solo cups in appliances such as a microwave.

At What Temperature Do Solo Cups Start to Melt?

Plastic is a material that is not heat resistant and depending on its thickness and type, it starts melting at a specific temperature. The toughest plastics usually melt at 338°F. Plastics that make up red solo cups will quickly begin deforming their shape when exposed to excessive heat, and between 212°F and 392°F, they will start melting. You can even notice the solo cup deforming if you pour a scorching beverage into it.

Plastic Cup
Image By: bluebudgie, Pixabay

Can You Microwave Solo Cups?

For the reasons we explained above, you should not microwave solo cups. Since microwaves can reach high temperatures, heating food to a maximum of 212°F, they will heat the cups as well, causing them to melt. Solo cups fall under a plastic category labeled as not microwave safe, so the wisest decision would be to avoid using them in this kitchen appliance. If you place a solo cup in the microwave by mistake to heat your drink, the plastic will melt and contaminate it, making it hazardous for use.

What Happens If You Microwave Solo Cups?

Microwaving solo cups would not cause a spectacular explosion or fire, but it will ruin your drink and potentially damage the inside of your microwave. The cup might melt on the appliance floor and spill your drink, making it impossible to clean once it cools down. Another possible scenario would be the cup deforming due to high temperatures, and once you open the microwave door to grab the cup, you can get badly burned. Even if the plastic doesn’t fully melt, certain particles will permanently contaminate your beverage, so playing it safe is recommended.

An Alternative to Microwaving Solo Cups

If you absolutely must heat up your drink in a microwave, choosing another option besides solo cups would be wise. The best cup materials which are microwave safe are glass or ceramic mugs. You can also look up plastic cups labeled as microwave-safe the next time you go shopping. Always check the label on the plastic cup or other dishes to determine whether they are heat resistant.

Additional Microwave Safety Tips
  • Avoid using solo cups in microwaves whenever possible. Always check the package or the label to see if the dish is microwave safe.
  • Solo cups are not reusable, so throw them away after using them.
  • Avoid placing solo cups in all other appliances that are meant to heat food or use some sort of a heater. The dishwasher can also cause the plastic to warp and leak.
  • Never add extremely hot beverages into the solo cup. This can also cause them to warp or melt, similar to a microwave.
empty red cups on grass
Image Credit: Eugene Buchko, Shutterstock


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Final Thoughts

Once you read all the possible scenarios and risks of using solo cups in the microwave, you should think twice before heating them. The microwave is meant to heat food to approximately 212°F, which is the melting point for solo cups. Microwaving them will quickly cause the cup to melt, leaking harmful chemicals into your beverage and even damaging the floor of your microwave.

Featured Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock


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