Is It Safe To Use Parchment Paper In The Microwave?

It can happen to anyone. One flaming bag of popcorn or a single, sparking fleck of aluminum foil can be all it takes to make you question everything you ever put in your microwave oven forever more. Is it safe? Will it catch fire? Will it explode? Some of the answers are surprising.

As American Home Shield notes, there are definitely certain products and substances that you should avoid microwaving at all costs – including anything metallic, those Styrofoam take-out containers, cheap, single-use plastics, and clothing. Yes, putting clothes in the microwave is a thing people have done and it's not safe, no matter what we learned from John Candy in "Uncle Buck." However, there is one category of kitchen products where we can mostly breathe easy, and that is paper products.

Paper towels, paper plates, disposable napkins, and non-stick baking sheets like wax paper and parchment paper are all completely safe for microwave use and pose little to no risk of starting a kitchen fire, despite how flammable they may look, with the one prominent exception being brown paper bags, which are prone to catching fire and can release toxic fumes (via Today).

Parchment paper vs. wax paper

Parchment paper and wax paper are two of the substances that have their microwave safety called into question most often, and while they are similar products, they do have one massive safety difference.

Parchment paper is paper coated with silicone to give it a non-stick surface and make it heat-resistant. Wax paper is multi-layered tissue paper which has been saturated with food-safe paraffin or soy wax. While both products are non-stick and are used often by bakers, it's important to note that wax paper has lower heat resistance and can actually melt when put in the oven or other sources of extreme heat. Parchment paper, on the other hand, is specifically designed to withstand great heat.

While wax paper is more suited to covering surfaces and storing food than parchment paper — which is more ideal for cooking — both products can go safely into the microwave. Wax paper melts at approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which according to Kitchen Appliance Answers, is near the peak temperature objects in most microwaves can reach. Therefore, it is quite unlikely to be achieved by wax paper — especially in the short bursts of time in which most things are microwaved.

While there is no need to fear spontaneous microwave combustion from most paper products, if you are still jumpy about that one time you didn't realize there was a metallic coating on your sandwich wrapper, rest assured that parchment paper will always be your safest bet.