Can You Microwave Cardboard? Is It Safe?

It’s Monday morning, the beginning of another week. You snooze the alarm, as usual, then you wake up shocked that you are up an hour later. Ruffling through the clothes, you unhang a favorite suit and quickly button the shirt. It’s creased, but do you have the time to iron it? Goodness! The tie is missing in the heap of unfolded clothes.

Today is the debut of your business proposal, one that has taken a long to research and compile. You have to look professional before the board of directors. Then an idea pops up. You quickly call Fred and tell him to carry an extra tie. There’s no time for an elaborate breakfast so you open the fridge. No cereal, no milk. Just some leftovers from yesterday’s dinner out. But you are in a dilemma whether or not to microwave the meal while it’s still in the cardboard.

While growing up, your mum was against it but at the workplace, colleagues do it. You’ve always followed her advice so you never microwave your take-aways, but why are other people doing it? That’s a question for later. So head out and decide to grab some coffee along the way.

Cardboard can be found in many eateries like fast foods. Fries, pizza, burritos, name them. If you are in a hurry or just want to finish the meal at home, it’s packed. But they can get messy if the sauce soaks them. They are environmentally friendly as compared to plastics.

However, most people aren’t sure whether it’d be harmful or not to microwave food if in the cardboard. With health being a concern, it’s important to get the facts right. This article will help you find out can you microwave cardboard or not.

Components Of Cardboard

Simply put, it’s basically made from paper that’s why others know it as paperboard. It’s thick and slightly heavy in comparison to other papers. These qualities make them suitable for their use in packaging. Have you noticed this with box cereals?

The food industry also makes use of corrugated cardboard. So what’s that? It’s a stronger sheet of cardboard that is used to create partitions in the packaging container. You can see it in a six-pack of fruit juice.

Due to their convenience and fair price, the hospitality industry makes extensive use of cardboard. It might be shaped into pizza boxes, disposable cups as seen with coffee, take-out packs, and partitioned food trays. Those who rarely cook in their homes have them almost daily. It’s not hard to know. The trash can says it all.

Now that we have looked at its components, it’s important to state that it’s possible to microwave food in a cardboard container. For those who love quick fixes, this might make you smile. However, caution has to be taken. One should check off a few necessary things to ensure his safety. Therefore, those against the idea are also right. What are some necessary things to be considered?

How To Determine Whether Or Not To Microwave Food

Check the label

This is often the fast and easy step before microwaving that yummy tuna from the Chinese restaurant. Simply check the base of the cardboard container. If there a symbol that it’s microwave safe, go ahead and use it. Others will indicate if doing so is hazardous.

Probably the cardboard was only meant for packaging, not heating. Such clear instructions give needed guidelines. What if the container lacks labels? To be safe then sorry, empty the food in a microwave-safe container.

Precautions To Take If You Choose To Microwave Cardboard

Supposing you are too much into microwaving almost everything. Does it mean you will have a casual approach on cardboards? Not if you put safety first.  Below are some useful tips.

Can You Microwave Cardboard

Also Read: Best Budget Microwaves Under 100 Reviews

Ensure the absence of wax coating

Wax is used as a seal to avoid liquid spillages. The container is usually smooth. When exposed to heat, it will definitely melt hence the emission of harmful fumes. This in turn contaminated your food. So, scrutinize the pack for any wax. Additionally, ink from the colored and printed material could fall off. Remember, they are chemicals and you may be affected. Cardboard packages especially those in fast foods are meant to be temporary, not to be re-used.

Remove metal pieces if any

It’s not uncommon to find some little metallic parts in the packages. They often secure the food container. It would be lethal if one accidentally ingested a piece. The small ones can be hard to detect so if suspicious, don’t put your safety on the line. Heat the food using alternative ways.

Confirm if there’s food in the container

How can this happen? Suppose you had leftovers from a takeaway restaurant then your child takes a bite. Not being aware, you put the container in the microwave. After a few seconds, you notice it’s smoking. Switching it off, you realize there wasn’t food in the first place. Cardboard, being made from paper, will always burn when exposed to heat. Therefore, check the container just to be sure.

Heat within the shortest time

The microwave’s timer is set based on the type of food to be heated. However, it is recommended that food in cardboards shouldn’t take long.


It is possible to microwave food packed in cardboard. Some products will indicate if the container is microwave-safe or not so don’t overlook that part. If you decide to use the appliance, be extra careful. Inspect the cardboard to ensure there are no hidden fragments of metal.

Assuming that there’s food in the container and immediately heating it is dangerous. It gets burnt and your appliance might break down. Inquire from the attendant at the eatery where you purchased the food if that type of cardboard is microwave safe.

Caution should be observed at all times when using these home appliances. It’s up to you to choose whether to microwave the cardboard or not. However, there are more cons to doing so. The next time you carry a pack of fries home, weigh in the options and make an informed decision.

About Harris V.

Harris is a content coordinator and senior writer at Gliving. After years of cooking professionally, Harris traded in his knives for the pen. He spends most of his time writing these days but still loves to get down with some delicious recipes in the kitchen for his family.