Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Shari Mason
For those who own a microwave, you’ve likely come across the idea that it’s not advisable to put any form of metal item within it.
However, is there any truth to this impression? Can you put a metal bowl in the microwave oven? Let’s find out.
Can You Put Metal Bowls Inside A Microwave?
Yes, you can put metal bowls inside a microwave oven.
While it’s perfectly safe to put metal bowls inside a microwave without fear of your entire house burning, this isn’t to say that you should do it.
The only thing that will happen if you use metal bowls inside a microwave oven is that the food won’t heat up properly.
Microwaves can’t penetrate metal containers, and the most they can do is induce electric current in the bowl, which will likely not have serious consequences.
The best materials to microwave food are glass and polyethylene or polypropylene plastics, which absorb microwaves for faster cooking.
Find out if can you put parchment paper in the microwave here.
Why Should You Not Put Metal Bowls In Microwaves
It May Damage The Oven Circuit
Since microwaves cannot penetrate most metal bowls, the radiation simply bounces back to the metallic interior.
This mirror effect can cause heat to build continuously, damaging the microwave oven circuit in the long run.
It May Cause Fire
If you put a metal bowl in the microwave, chances are there won’t be much damage, especially if the metal bowl is smooth.
However, the same can’t be said for a metal container with jagged edges. These edges can cause what is known as “arcing,” the microwaves’ reaction that creates sparks with the jagged metallic edges.
These sparks can catch fire if it gets in contact with something combustible.
It May Explode
While it’s true that not all metal bowls will cause a serious explosion in your kitchen, the same can’t be said for other metal objects, like aluminum foil, utensils, or delicate china with metallic trim.
These other materials have plenty of sharp edges that can cause sparks once in contact with radiation.
Can You Use a Stainless Steel Bowl Instead?
Stainless steel is still a type of metal, so we don’t recommend using it for cooking inside your microwave.
While you won’t probably cause any accidents when using stainless steel bowls inside your microwave oven, the heating process won’t be that efficient.
The heat still won’t be able to penetrate stainless steel bowls properly, and you will probably need high temperatures and more time to cook food.
The cooked food will also have a slight metallic taste.
On the other hand, using microwave-safe bowls will make heating food a lot faster.
How Does Microwave Work?
A microwave heats and cooks food using electromagnetic radiation. 
An electron tube called magnetron releases microwaves as soon as you start microwaving food.
These waves are bounced within the metallic walls of the microwave oven and absorbed by the food.
Furthermore, microwave ovens cause the water molecules in your food to vibrate, which produces heat.
As mentioned before, microwaves won’t be able to penetrate metals and metal containers, so the only way to cook food inside a metal bowl is through the top (which is highly ineffective and time-consuming).
What Type of Bowls Can Go In a Microwave?
Glass dishes and ceramic bowls are designed to handle high heat, which makes them great for oven use.
They also won’t transfer harmful chemicals as you cook, nor will they burn you when you pull them out of the microwave oven.
However, you should steer clear of those with metallic paints or inlays.
Paper Plates/Paper Towels
Paper plates and paper towels are A-okay to use inside the microwave. It’s recommended that you cover some foods with a layer of paper towels, so they don’t spit while heated.
On the other hand, you want to check the paper plates you have before popping them inside the microwave.
Check if they are safe for microwave use because some paper plates have a thin plastic coating.
Plastic containers are the microwave’s best friends, with those meant for longer-term use, like Tupperware, the best choice.
However, you want to avoid using single-use plastics, like yogurt cups and margarine tubs.
What types of bowls are not microwave-safe?
Metal, crystal, and homemade pottery bowls are not safe for the microwave oven. Microwave-safe containers also usually have a microwave-safe symbol at the bottom (an icon with wavy lines).
Are metal mixing bowls microwave safe?
No, mixing bowls made from metal are not safe for the microwave. You are better off using a glass or ceramic bowl for the microwave.
What kind of metal can go in a microwave?
We don’t think you should put a metal container inside the microwave. Microwaves don’t penetrate metal effectively, and this can potentially start fire hazards.
Yes, you can use metal bowls in the microwave, but you’re better off not doing it.
While it won’t explode like some people think, microwaves do not penetrate metal bowls, and thus won’t be able to heat food properly.
It’s also worth noting that using metallic instruments with a jagged shape, like aluminum foil or a fork, can create sparks that cause a fire.
It’s best to use microwave-safe containers, such as glass bowls, ceramic bowls, and Tupperware, for cooking inside the microwave. You will only need lower temperatures with these materials.
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