Most people have microwaved their food before or at least know someone who has. But what about the Ziploc bags? Can you microwave Ziploc bags? There are a lot of rumors out there that say it is not safe to microwave plastic and that doing so will release toxic fumes into your home. Will this happen if you toss a Ziploc bag in for a few seconds?
This article will answer that question for you and give you some tips on how to use Ziploc bags for reheating food.
Are Ziploc Bags Microwave Safe?
According to the manufacturer of Ziploc brand bags, you can microwave Ziploc bags. So it’s safe to reheat food in the microwave oven with your Ziploc bag: toast those bagels, warm that coffee, or heat up a bowl of soup without fear of melting the plastic bags.
Although some consumers are wary of microwaving Ziploc bags, the manufacturer says that all the products have met the FDA’s safety standards for heat and minimum temperatures.
Here’s the specific line from Ziploc’s website that says you can microwave Ziploc bags:
“All Ziploc® brand Containers and microwavable Ziploc® brand Bags meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens, as well as room, refrigerator, and freezer temperatures.”
You can read the manufacturer’s full guide here. Nevertheless, be sure to check the label directions on the plastic bag for any warnings that might apply to your specific Ziploc product.
How Long Can You Microwave Ziploc Bags?
Although the manufacturer doesn’t specify a time frame for microwaving Ziploc bags, many references say that genuine Ziploc bags can hold temperatures up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. If we calculate how long it would take for an average microwave to reach 170 degrees, it would be about two minutes. This means you can safely reheat food in your Ziploc bag for a maximum of two minutes.
At What Temperature Do Ziploc Bags Melt?
If we look at the material that a Ziploc bag is made of, it’s a type of polyethylene plastic that can be heated up to an impressive 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperature of the bag reaches 195 degrees, the plastic will begin to soften. If you put it in boiling water at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, it will melt.
Does Microwaving Food in a Ziploc Bag Kill Nutrients?
Some people say that microwaving in Ziploc bags can increase the rate at which your food loses its nutritional value than conventional methods like boiling or steaming. On the other hand, some people say that microwaving in Ziploc bags is a better way to cook food because it doesn’t require as much water like boiling does. So which one is the right answer?
According to Healthline, all methods of cooking foods can cause some nutrient loss. Although the type and amount of nutrients lost depend on several factors (such as the type and amount of food being cooked, the water content, cooking time, or temperature), generally, the less water we use and the shorter the cooking time, the fewer nutrients are lost.
Therefore microwaving food using Ziploc bags is actually a better option for retaining nutrients because you don’t need to use as much water and the cooking time is very short.
Can You Microwave Ziploc Containers?
Now you know that you can microwave Ziploc bags in the kitchen, but what about heating up your leftovers foods in a Ziploc container?
Sealable plastic bags are not the only products that Ziploc manufactures. They also make containers that are microwaveable and freezer safe. These Ziploc containers can be used for reheating leftovers, storing food in the refrigerator, or even freezing it before you need to defrost it later on down the line. Just like the Ziploc bags, it is safe to microwave Ziploc containers.
Containers usually have a higher melting point than bags, and thus you may be able to leave them in the microwave for a little longer. However, I still recommend being conservative and not microwaving your containers for more than two and a half minutes.
Since Ziploc containers are also made of polyethylene plastic, they can melt at temperatures of 195 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can take only a few minutes for the microwave to reach this temperature.
Are Ziploc Bags and Containers Dioxin Free?
I’m sure you have heard or read at least once about the presumed danger of dioxin. Dioxin is a byproduct of the manufacturing process that is made to be colorless and odorless. This toxin can leach out into your food when you heat up your food in plastic containers and can cause a variety of health problems, mainly the increased risk of cancer.
Taking this rumor seriously, the Ziploc maker has researched the issue and found that this case is not true. In their research, they found that dioxins only form when there is extremely high heat for prolonged periods of time, here we are talking about 1,500 degrees F or more. A temperature that even the most powerful microwave ovens will never reach. So it’s safe to say that all microwavable Ziploc brand containers and bags are 100% dioxin-free.
Are Ziploc Bags and Containers BPA Free?
Another concern many people have is with BPA. Bisphenol A, or simply known as BPA, is a chemical that manufacturers add to plastic food storage containers in order to make them more flexible and shatterproof. Some studies show that this plastic additive may cause cancer and other health problems.
However, Ziploc products don’t contain BPA. This is because the company has been committed to providing products without this chemical for more than a decade now.
Can You Cook in a Ziploc Bag or Container?
Both Ziploc bags and containers have become quite popular for many people who cook sous vide. This is a cooking technique that involves placing food into an airtight container and then immersing it in water at precisely controlled temperatures.
Although Ziploc containers are not made specifically for sous vide, they can be used as long as you follow the instructions on how to properly seal them so that all of the liquid doesn’t seep out.
If you are using a Ziploc bag for sous vide cooking, the only additional step that is needed to cook sous vide with this product is ensuring there is enough water in your pot. That way, when you place your container filled with food into the pot, it will be completely submerged and then sealed shut so no air can get inside of it.
Some sous vide enthusiasts believe that Ziploc bags don’t remove all of the air from the container, but this is not true. If you want to get all the air out of your Ziploc container, seal it almost all of the way but leave a small opening and then submerge it in water. The pressure from the water will force all air to be squeezed out and then seal it completely before raising the container back to the surface.
Tips to Safely Use Ziploc Bags and Containers in the Microwave
- When you reheat your leftovers in a Ziploc bag or container in the microwave, it would be helpful to cut the foods into smaller pieces before placing them in the bag. This will help you get a more even and thorough heating of your food, which is key to prevent overheating.
- Unzip the zipper during the reheating process to allow the steam to escape. If you don’t do this, the steam can create pressure and cause a buildup of heat inside your Ziploc bag. This can result in a bag explosion.
- Place the Ziploc bag on the “microwave safe” dish before placing it in the microwave. This dish will provide a sturdy surface for you to place your container on top when done heating, so it doesn’t fall over.
- When microwaving, make sure not to heat food past no longer than 2 minutes in a low to medium setting.
- Do not overfill the container or bag. If you pack too much food inside, it won’t heat as evenly and may result in an overflow when you take it out.
- Check the bag or container every 30 seconds for signs of overheating.
- Check the bag or container after microwaving for spots where the food is still cold. You can do this by squeezing these areas and feel if they are warmer than other parts of the dish.
- It’s not recommended to reheat foods with a lot of fats and sugar. They can cause the bag or container to heat up too quickly and melt your Ziploc bags.
- Avoid reheating crispy foods using Ziploc bags in the microwave. The microwave heat will make the inside of the bag humid, and as a result, the crispy food will sog up and soften.
1. Can You Microwave Ziploc Sandwich Bags?
Yes, Ziploc sandwich bags can be microwaved. Be sure to follow the safety tips that I have given you above.
2. Can You Defrost in a Ziploc Bag in a Microwave?
Yes, the manufacturer has clearly said that defrosting in a Ziploc bag in the microwave is safe.
3. Can You Cook Rice In A Ziploc Bag?
No, you should never cook rice in a Ziploc bag. Cooking rice this way can be dangerous as it will steam the rice hotter than boiling water and cause the Ziploc bag to melt and blow open, releasing a burst of hot steam.