What comes into your mind when you see a paper towel? An item that helps you clean up messes, right? Well, this isn’t the only use of paper towels; they serve more purposes just like other household items.
You can actually use a paper towel in the microwave. How so, you wonder?
Paper towels are commonly used as food covers in the microwave. They cover food to prevent splatter and help retain food moisture.
So, if you’re still concerned about whether you can put a paper towel in the microwave, the answer is yes, you can. However, it would help if you were extra-careful not to cause sparks or fire.
Ensure that the papers have more moisture content and check the manufacturer’s guidelines before using them.
Want to learn more about paper towels and how to use them safely in a microwave? Continue reading.
What are Paper Towels?
Paper towels are made of fibrous plants like cotton and fibers of wood. They are highly absorbent and easy to dispose.
In fact, they are what most of us reach for to clean up small spills.
Paper towels also come in handy when you want to heat something small in your microwave. They are more convenient in the office where microwavable containers or plates are limited.
How to Microwave Paper Towels Safely
Although paper towels are safe to use in the microwave, you need to be careful since you don’t want them to burn in the appliance.
So, how do you ensure that this doesn’t happen?
- Lay Out the Paper Towel Flat in the Microwave
One of the safest ways to use paper towels in the microwave is by laying them flat in the unit. Do this when placing the towel under or above your food.
Do not fold, crumple or scrunch the paper towel. Folded or crumpled paper towels catch fire with ease as heat doesn’t dissipate easily.
- Use Plain White Paper Towels
According to USDA, it’s safer to microwave plain white paper towels than those with printed designs.
And why white?
Ink can potentially bleed onto your food. And you don’t want to eat ink, do you?
- Dampen the Paper Towel
Wet paper towels are more resistant to catching fire; hence, the need to dampen them before placing them in your microwave oven.
Also, wrapping your food with a moist paper towel prevents it from drying out. Wrap your tortillas, sandwiches, rolls, bowl of leftovers, among others, to ensure that they don’t dry out.
- Avoid Using Recycled Paper Towels
Recycled paper towels may contain unsafe materials to use in a microwave. It could be metal, bits of plastic or something else that could melt and cause a fire.
Therefore, if all you have in your kitchen are recycled paper towels, consider using plastic wraps, parchment paper, a plain or white napkin or anything labeled microwave safe.
- Use only One Paper Towel
Although paper towels are microwave safe, it doesn’t mean that you now stack layers of them in the appliance.
You should know that the more paper towels you use, the harder it’ll be for heat to escape. And if the heat doesn’t escape, the papers will definitely catch fire.
Therefore, stick to one as much as possible.
And if you want something heavy-duty, use a microwave-safe dish instead of many paper towels.
Why Use Paper Towels in a Microwave?
- Stops/Catches Splatters
When heating food in your microwave, it can boil and splatter everywhere in the appliance. This usually happens with soup or oily foods.
Placing a paper towel on your food catches this splattering. Placing it underneath your food container helps catch the splatters meaning that you won’t have to clean the unit after every cooking session.
- Leads to More Even Cooking
A wet paper towel absorbs microwave energy in your microwave and helps your food to cook more evenly. This leads to better cooking results.
- Protects Food from Drying out
Wrapping foods like corn with paper towels prevent the outer skin from drying out. By wrapping your food with a moist paper towel, the towel becomes the skin and removes the bulk of microwave energy.
When it heats up, it’s full of water that heats your food without drying it out.
- Can Protect the Turntable
Microwave turntables are made of glass and can easily get cracks and chips if you place dishes with too much force on them.
Placing a paper towel flat on the turntable means putting a layer of protection.
Tips to Microwaving Paper Towels
Although microwave safe, paper towels present potential risks.
Listed below are some of the tips for microwaving paper towels:
- Always uses unfolded paper towels for the best results. Folded paper towels compress heat and can ignite fire as a result.
- Avoid using recycled paper towels. Recycled paper towels may contain plastic bits or metal elements that can melt and cause a fire.
- Read manufacturer recommendation. Not all paper towels are microwave-safe. Go through the product description before using the paper towels.
- Avoid using printed paper towels. The ink from printed paper towels may get into your food.
- Do not microwave super moist paper towels if you don’t want to end up eating some paper towels stuck on your food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will paper towels burn in the microwave?
A paper towel will burn in the microwave if placed alone, if it’s less moist or if it is placed in the appliance folded or crumpled.
Q: How long should you microwave a paper towel?
Depending on the microwaving technique, you can use paper towels for at least half an hour in the microwave.
Q: Is it safe to put paper towels in the microwave?
It’s safe to put paper towels in the microwave as long as you observe the necessary precautions. Do not fold the paper when placing it in the microwave, don’t use a dry paper towel and avoid using it alone.
You should also not use recycled paper towels as they contain metal elements that can cause a fire.
Q: Can you put brown paper towels in the microwave?
Avoid using brown paper towels in the microwave as the brown color can get onto your food.
Q: Can you put bounty towels paper in the microwave?
You can use bounty paper in the microwave but avoid using it for an extended amount of heating to avoid mishaps.
Q: Can you put a damp paper towel in the microwave?
You can use a damp paper towel in the microwave but ensure that it isn’t too damp. An extra-damp paper towel can stick to your food. You don’t want to eat paper towels stuck on your food, right?
Q: Can you put a wet paper towel in the microwave?
A wet paper towel is the best to use in the microwave. It adds moisture to your food as it cooks and helps cook food more evenly.
Q: Is it toxic to microwave paper towels?
Microwaving paper towels is not toxic as they are made from suitable materials. It can only become toxic if the papers have toxic chemicals.
Q: Is it dangerous to microwave a paper towel?
It’s not dangerous to microwave a paper towel. You just need to make sure that you always use the right paper towel to prevent sparks. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Q: What happens when I microwave a paper towel?
When you place a paper towel in the microwave, it heats evenly and warms your food. Also, depending on how you use it, it can help control your food’s splashing.
You can put paper towels in a microwave if you follow all safety precautions(1). The paper towels help cook food more evenly, prevent splatters and prevent your food from drying out.
Do not fold the paper towel in the microwave as this can cause a fire. Don’t use printed paper towels as well if looking forward to excellent cooking results.
Also, go through the manufacturer’s guidelines(2) before using the product and ensure that it’s microwave safe.