Are you thinking about using that microwave-safe plastic container in an air fryer? I would think twice if I were you. This could lead to something really bad happening. But what could go wrong, you ask?
Let’s talk about what will happen if you use microwave-safe plastic in an air fryer.
Can you put microwave safe plastic containers in an air fryer?
The short answer is no. The air fryer works like a small convection oven using hot air that is blown around to heat the food. Unlike a microwave oven that uses microwaves to agitate the molecules of food and heat them up, an air fryer will melt a plastic bowl. Even one that is microwave safe.
What might happen if you put microwave-safe plastic containers in an air fryer?
Microwave safe plastics work on the principle that they do not contain water, so the water in the bowl cannot move around like it would in food, and it will not melt. A microwave-safe bowl can melt, however. The typical melting point for these plastics is about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use a microwave-safe bowl in an air fryer, the temperature well exceeds the melting point of the plastic. The bowl would first start to shrink and compress. It would then melt and go down through the vent holes at the bottom of the fryer basket. It would stick to the bottom, where it would eventually heat up to the point that it would start to burn and smoke. This would likely fill the room with smoke and foul odor, and may even ruin the non-stick coating on your air fryer.
Why should you avoid using microwave-safe plastic containers in an air fryer?
You should avoid using microwave-safe plastics in an air fryer because an air fryer and a microwave work to heat food in entirely different ways. A microwave agitates the water molecules in food, making them move very quickly and creating heat. An air fryer uses very hot air that is forced to circulate around the food by means of a fan. A microwave-safe bowl does not get hot because it does not contain water molecules that can be agitated. A microwave-safe bowl is still plastic, however, and it is not impervious to heat. Using this type of bowl in an air fryer is almost certainly going to end in disaster and may damage your air fryer permanently or cause a fire in your kitchen.
Air fryers get much hotter than microwaves
Air fryers can get up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, much hotter than the melting point of most plastics, which is around 250 degrees.
Plastics can melt at a certain point
Plastics do all have a melting point. Though some plastics have a higher melting point, they are still plastic and can therefore meet that melting point and then melt down inside of your air fryer.
Chemicals can leach into your food
There are also certain chemicals like BPA that are used in the manufacturing process of some plastics. BPAs are also called bisphenol A, and they are used in the lining of metal cans, water bottles, commercial food packaging, and more. When heated, these plastics can release the chemical BPA that can then get into food and be consumed by the individual. These chemicals are thought to cause health problems like cancer.
Why are microwave plastics safe for microwaves but not for air fryers?
The main reason that a microwave-safe plastic is safe for the microwave is that it has been designed as such. It was designed with use in the microwave as its main purpose. Microwaves work by transmitting microwaves that pass through the food that is being heated and force the water molecules in it to move very quickly. This very quick movement then creates kinetic heat that heats up the surrounding molecules of the food. In an air fryer, it works much like a very small convection oven. Heating takes place by means of convection of heat or circulation of heat. The heating element is heated up. A fan blows air over the element. The air is heated and then moves around the food, heating it up. Microwave safe bowls are made without water, which means that there are no water molecules to move around, which means the bowl is not going to change in temperature. With an air fryer, the bowl is constantly being hit with hot air that circulates around it and heats up the molecules, forcing it to melt.
Are there any oven-safe plastics that could go into an air fryer?
There are some plastics that are oven-safe. Silicone has a very high melting point, around 500 degrees Fahrenheit or 260 degrees Celsius. This means that it is going to be safe in your oven as long as you do not exceed that temperature. You can also use silicone in an air fryer. CPET, or crystallized polyethylene terephthalate, can also be used in the oven and in the air fryer. This is a plastic that also has a very high melting point. The melting point of CPET is up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the plastic that microwave dinners and TV dinners are packaged in. This does not mean that they will not melt when used in an air fryer or in an oven; it just means that it is going to take a much higher heat for a prolonged period of time to melt them. If in doubt, you should always check to see if a plastic item is safe to use in your air fryer or oven before you try to use it.
What alternative containers can you put in an air fryer?
1. Stainless steel
Stainless steel frying baskets are oven-proof and can be used to air fry a variety of foods. It’s also a safe material to use in an air fryer. It does not react with food and is easy to clean.
Air fryers work best with stainless steel bowls, pots, and pans without loop handles made of materials other than stainless steel. The metal conducts the heat evenly, and the natural non-stick properties of the metal prevent the food from sticking to the container.
Stainless steel can also withstand temperatures of up to 2790 degrees Fahrenheit, which is far beyond what an air fryer is capable of.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when selecting a stainless steel pan for your air fryer. First, make sure that the entire pan is stainless steel, not just the cooking surface. Second, check to see if the handle or any other part of the lid is made from plastic; if it is, the pan will not be safe to use in an air fryer.
Ceramic pots and containers are also a great alternative to plastic containers in air fryers. They are an extremely safe material to use under high heat. In fact, it would take up to 3632 degrees Fahrenheit to melt ceramic.
This material is one of the most heat-resistant materials made and is perfect for being used with air fryers.
When using ceramics in your air fryer, be careful not to touch them until they have had a chance to cool down. They will hold onto the heat, and you could easily burn yourself. If you do need to handle them, use some form of hand protection like oven mitts or towels.
3. Aluminum containers
Aluminum air fryer containers are becoming more and more popular because they are a great way to cook food. They are usually single-use containers, which means that you can put the food in them and then cook it without having to worry about cleaning it later or anything else.
Disposable aluminum containers are available in a variety of sizes, and some even include covers. This makes them suitable for multiple purposes, such as marinating food or storing leftovers as well. And, without ever transferring your food from your aluminum container, you can place it straight into the air fryer.
The melting point of aluminum is 1221 degrees Fahrenheit, so you really have nothing to worry about when it comes to air-frying it. There won’t be any melting or leaching of this material into the food.
4. Glass cookware
Glass cookware is oven safe, meaning you can put it in the oven without having to worry about it shattering. Additionally, glass cookware works well in an air fryer, making it a versatile option for your cooking needs.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, glass cookware will work in an air fryer. Glass cookware is a great option for air frying because it distributes heat evenly and does not react with the oils used in air frying.
A few exceptions to the rules here would be to make sure you don’t immediately air fry any glass bowls that were taken right out of the freezer. Drastic changes in temperatures from cold to hot can cause the glass to shatter.
Even though the glass has a melting point of close to 2732 degrees Fahrenheit, the drastic differences in temperature changes will cause the glass to expand and contract at extremely stressful rates. This is what results in the glass breaking.
It’s recommended that you make sure your glass bowl becomes stable at room temperature and that you gradually increase the heat when it’s placed in the air fryer.
5. Silicone containers
Out of the entire list, silicone is the only material that’s in the same class as plastics. It’s a type of plastic that does not melt unless it’s ignited. This means that it can be used to make containers for food, as the material will not deform when heated.
Silicone containers are a great alternative to using regular or microwave-safe plastics for your air fryer. They can be used safely in ovens and air fryers without melting, and they are dishwasher safe.
One of the major advantages of using silicone containers in an air fryer is that the food is very easy to remove from the container, which makes cleanup a breeze. Additionally, depending on the type of silicone, some of the most heat-resistant silicones have a melting point of up to 2570 degrees Fahrenheit.
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