Why You Should Never Use Wax Paper In The Oven

Being an experienced cook isn't just about assembling an arsenal of kitchen tools; It's also about knowing when and when not to use them. Your offset spatula, for example, may sit in a drawer unused for months until it's time to ice a cake and it becomes essential. Many kitchens are also stocked with wax paper, and while the paper that's coated with a thin layer of paraffin is versatile, it's not good for every purpose. When should you — and more importantly, when should you not — use wax paper?

Wax paper, like parchment paper, is a wonderful nonstick surface. It's perfect for fiddly tasks like decorating cakes, as piped icing flowers and other decorations can be left to harden on the waxy surface and easily transferred to a cake when the icing hardens. Also, according to Bob's Red Mill, wax paper is ideal for use as a funnel for moving dry ingredients like flour from one spot to another. But one thing wax paper is not good for is use in the oven. Why?

Wax paper doesn't fare well in the heat

Taste of Home notes that while wax paper is water-resistant and wonderfully nonstick, it's not heat-resistant. In fact, that thin coating of paraffin will melt in the oven, which can not only ruin your pans, but also smoke up your kitchen. Wax paper does just fine in the microwave, but if you use it in the oven, Martha Stewart warns that it could even catch fire.

Save your wax paper for covering countertops, heating foods in the microwave, or to catch dry ingredients as you sift them, but keep it out of the oven. What should you use in the oven instead? Aluminum foil can keep baking sheets clean in the oven, but it's not nonstick. If you need a nonstick surface, a silicone baking mat or parchment paper (if the oven is kept below about 425 degrees Fahrenheit, via Foods Guy) is better in the oven than wax paper. 

Wax paper certainly has its uses, and Martha Stewart points out that it's typically less expensive than parchment paper or a silicone mat. It just doesn't work in your oven.