Is Bone China Microwave Safe?

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Bone china is widely considered the pinnacle of ceramic diningware. Known for its delicate translucency and refined appearance, bone china graces the tables of royalty and luxury hotels worldwide.

But is this fine ceramic material durable enough for the rigors of everyday use? Specifically – is bone china microwave safe?

This complete guide will cover everything you need to know about using bone china in the microwave. We’ll explore the composition of bone china, its key properties, expert care tips, and frequently asked questions.

Whether you’re concerned about damaging an heirloom teacup or need to reheat leftovers on fine dining plates, read on to get the definitive answer on bone china in microwaves.

What is Bone China?

Before answering whether bone china can withstand microwave radiation, it helps to understand what bone china is made of.

Bone china consists of:

  • Kaolin – A soft, white clay that gives shape and structure. Also called china clay.
  • Feldspar – A mineral that enhances hardness and durability. Also called china stone.
  • Bone ash – Made by burning animal bones into an ash, typically cattle bones.

The bone ash is the key ingredient that sets bone china apart from other ceramics like porcelain. Traditional bone china contains at least 30% bone ash, while some prestige brands use up to 45%.

Adding bone ash results in a delicate, milky white ceramic that is prized for its beauty and translucency. It also makes bone china less prone to chipping than standard porcelain (also read: Is it safe to put porcelain in the microwave?).

Is Bone China Microwave Safe?

With its refined appearance and reputation for fragility, it’s understandable to be cautious using bone china in the microwave.

However, bone china is 100% microwave safe when used properly. The organic composition and semi-porous nature of bone china makes it resistant to thermal shock.

Simply put, bone china won’t crack or shatter when exposed to the rapid temperature changes that occur inside a microwave oven.

This applies to plates, bowls, mugs, and other bone china items without metallic embellishments. The microwave safety also assumes proper use based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

So you can reheat leftover steak on your bone china dinner plates or warm up a mug of tea without worry. Just be sure to follow the guidelines below to prevent other damage.

Microwave Usage Tips for Bone China

While bone china won’t crack in the microwave, it still requires some special care and handling. Follow these expert tips to keep your bone china looking beautiful after microwave use:

Use Lower Power Settings

High microwave power can lead to localized overheating, especially if bone china contains very thin areas or delicate decorative edges. Start on 50% power and increase gradually if needed.

Heat Smaller Amounts

Bone china teacups, small bowls, and saucers heat very quickly. Take extra precaution by only heating small amounts of food or liquid at a time.

Don’t Heat When Empty

Never microwave bone china while empty, as this can lead to scorching or cracking from overheating. Always add food or water before heating.

Avoid Sharp Temperature Changes

Allow bone china to cool gradually after microwaving. A sudden temperature shock like rinsing with cold water can cause hairline cracks or chipping.

Check for Metal Decoration

Metal elements like gold leaf or platinum edging will spark and get hot in the microwave. Heating items with metallic embellishments should be avoided.

Use Microwave-Safe Stand

Place bone china on a dedicated microwave-safe stand or dish. Never place directly on the glass turntable, where it can crack from direct contact.

Handle with Care

Always use potholders when removing hot bone china from the microwave, and avoid banging or clamping together items that may still be very hot.

By following these simple precautions, your bone china will remain undamaged after microwave use for years of beauty and enjoyment.

Expert Tips for Bone China Care

In addition to microwave safety, there are some overall care principles to keep your prized bone china looking its best:

  • Hand wash in warm water using mild detergent and a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.
  • Use a rinse agent if washing bone china in a dishwasher to prevent spotting. Place pieces securely.
  • Avoid metal utensils to prevent scratching of the glazed surface. Use wood, plastic, or silicone instead.
  • Store carefully with separation between pieces to prevent chipping. Use felt or cloth dividers.
  • Don’t soak bone china in water for long periods, as the bone ash can start to leach out affecting the appearance.
  • Prevent staining by not leaving liquids like coffee or tea sitting for long periods. Wash promptly after use.
  • Polish gently with a soft cloth to restore the beautiful shine if needed. No harsh chemicals.

Bone China Microwave FAQs

Still have some questions about using your prized bone china pieces in the microwave? Below are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is antique bone china microwave safe?

Yes, antique bone china can be microwave safe unless it contains metal embellishments or repairs with metal staples. Test antique items cautiously on low power first.

Can you put a bone china mug in the microwave?

Yes, bone china mugs are perfectly microwave safe. Just be sure not to microwave while empty, use lower power, and handle carefully while hot.

Can I microwave a teacup made of bone china?

You can safely microwave bone china teacups to reheat tea or other beverages. Allow time to cool gradually after microwaving to prevent cracks from thermal shock.

Is it safe to microwave bone china with gold trim?

No, bone china pieces with gold, platinum, or other metal trim should never go in the microwave, as the metal can heat up and cause damage.

Can bone china go on the bottom shelf of the microwave?

Avoid placing bone china directly on the bottom shelf or glass turntable. Use a microwave-safe stand or dish to prevent cracking from direct contact.


Bone china is cherished for its refined translucency that elevates any table setting. With proper use, bone china can be safely heated in the microwave without damage. Avoid metal trimmed pieces, use lower power, and heat only small amounts of food or liquid.

With a bit of care while handling hot bone china after microwaving, you can continue enjoying this luxurious ceramic for years to come. Bone china’s microwave safety ensures your heirloom and vintage pieces can keep pace with your modern lifestyle.

So break out the fine china for everyday meals, and refresh your tea in that dainty bone china cup without hesitation. A quick zap in the microwave won’t do your prized bone china any harm!

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!

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