Why Shouldn’t We Use Steel Utensils in a Microwave? (Detailed Answered)

Whether you need to warm a cup of coffee that has turned cold, defrost frozen food, reheat a plate of leftovers or heat up a microwavable meal, you’ll need a microwave.

The microwave has, with time, become one of the essential kitchen appliances that most can’t do without today.

These appliances are convenient to use, and some even boast advanced features to help you prepare different foods. You can even bake your favorite cookies in these kitchen masterpieces.

But do you know that not every utensil goes into a microwave? Actually, you might even have across people telling you never to use steel utensils in the microwave. Why do you think this is so?

In this article, you’ll learn why you can’t use steel among other utensils in a microwave. So, stay with us.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Steel Utensils in a Microwave – Detailed Answer

Rarely will you step into any kitchen and miss steel utensils. We bet it’s because steel boasts many health benefits.

But if you have a microwave, you can only use plastic or glass utensils to heat food, not steel utensils.


Microwaves can penetrate the steel and create an electric current in the bowl, which can be dangerous if the bowl has jagged points or edges.

Steel is a metal alloy and should never be used in a microwave. One thing to note is that metal and microwaves don’t play nicely together.

A little confused? You might be asking why this is so while a microwave’s interior is made of metal.

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation created by a magnetron. The metal in the walls of a microwave are safety measures – They prevent the microwaves from escaping and cooking other objects.

The metal in the oven’s cavity reflects these microwaves and focuses them on your food. The microwaves are then absorbed by water molecules in the food, create friction and generate heat that cooks your food.

Metals are great conductors of electricity as they contain a lot of electrons that move around freely. Should the microwaves hit a metal object, they get reflected, and this can cause problems.

So, if there’s insufficient material in the microwave to absorb the reflected microwaves, arcing can occur – it looks like a bolt of lightning when it happens.

Arcing can seriously damage your microwave by starting a fire, destroying the magnetron, burning a hole in the oven’s wall or damaging sensitive electrical components.

Therefore, the general rule is to avoid using metal utensils like steel in the microwave. There are so many microwave-safe dishes that you can use instead. Avoiding metal shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Microwave Utensil Guideline

Why Shouldn't We Use Steel Utensils in a Microwave

When selecting utensils for your microwave oven, you need to be extra careful.

You don’t want to spend money on utensils you’ll end up not using or those that can cause damage to your appliance.

Utensil guidelines:

  • You should never use metal cookware in the microwave. Metal won’t allow microwaves to penetrate and cook your food. However, when convection cooking, you can use metal utensils.
  • You can use ceramics, china, pottery and heat-resistant plastic marked “microwave safe”.
  • Avoid using ordinary plates and cookware with metal in their composition or decoration. You should also not use dishes with silver, gold or platinum bands as these can reflect microwave energy and cause arcing.
  • Oven-proof glass utensils are highly recommended; however, you need to test them before using them for the first time.
  • Newly purchased utensils/dishes should be tested for safe use before using them in the microwave.
  • You can use paper plates to warm food items (don’t use them in convection mode). Recheck recycled plates to ensure they don’t have foreign materials before using them.
  • Do not use Styrofoam containers as they melt when exposed to heat.
  • If speciality utensils such as micro-fryers, micro-pressure cookers and popcorn poppers are used in the microwave, follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter.

Also, one thing to note is that you should always keep at least a one-inch clearance at the top or all sides of the dish or utensil when heating in a microwave.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I use a stainless steel pan for baking in my microwave?

Yes, you can use a stainless steel pan in the microwave, but you need to check whether your oven is compatible with steel or not.

Q. Are all glass utensils safe to use in a microwave?

Not all glasses are safe to use in the microwave. Read the product’s guide to ensure that the glass utensil is microwave-safe.

Q. Is it safe to use aluminum foil in the microwave?

If you put a piece of aluminum foil in the microwave, you’ll see a lot of sparks. This happens because of the complicated shapes of the foil.

The foil might even melt because of the heat conducted through.
It’s not advisable to use a foil in a microwave, but you can by following the right steps.

To use the foil safely in a microwave, you need to use a smooth sheet only. And if the microwave already has a turntable or metal shelves, don’t use any more metal in it.

If you wrap part of your food with a foil, shape it carefully and smooth the edges to ensure that no edges or angles are sticking out.

Q. Can I still use my microwave after putting metal in it?

If you witnessed sparks in the microwave after heating metal in it, chances are, it won’t function properly.

However, if the appliance is still in good shape and hasn’t suffered any damage or caught fire, you can use it.


Knowing what utensils to use with your microwave will help you avoid inconveniences and dangers in the future. With microwave-safe dishes, you can always look forward to preparing delicacies for your loved ones at any time of the day.

At no time should you use steel utensils in the microwave. If placed too close to the appliance’s walls, these dishes can amplify radiation, cause major sparking and damage your microwave or even cause a fire.