The Effects of Microwaving Water in a Plastic Cup

Written by ellice lin
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The Effects of Microwaving Water in a Plastic Cup
Microwaves are convenient for heating food and liquids. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Chris Phan)

Many people microwave water in plastic cups because it is convenient. However, there are some health risks related to placing plastics in microwaves.

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Process

Microwaves heat water faster than conventional ovens. Because of the rapid increase in water temperature when heated, bubbles do not form when water is boiled in microwaves. Because no bubbles are formed, the water retains a high degree of heat.

The Effects of Microwaving Water in a Plastic Cup
Boiling water in microwaves is different from boiling water on top of a stove. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Indi Samarajiva)

Time

Make sure you don't set the microwave time for too long when microwaving a plastic cup of water. If water is overheated in the microwave, water may spew out of the cup, like an eruption, causing serious skin burns and scalding injuries. In addition, overheating may melt the plastic into the water.

The Effects of Microwaving Water in a Plastic Cup
Pay attention to the time when using the microwave. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic)

Type of Plastic

Some plastic containers should not be used in a microwave oven. Plastics made of polycarbonate, polystyrene or polyvinyl chloride may contain trace amounts of toxins. High density polythene, low density polythene and polypropylene are types of plastics safer for food and drink.

The Effects of Microwaving Water in a Plastic Cup
Some plastic cups are safer than others. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Steve Spinks)

Health

Toxic chemicals such as Bisphenol A may leach out from the plastic into the water when heated. According to researchers at the National Toxicology Program, Bisphenol A has oestrogen-like effects, which may disrupt the endocrine system, cause neurological developmental problems and even cause cancer.

Alternatives

As an alternative to plastics, water should be heated in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic container.

The Effects of Microwaving Water in a Plastic Cup
Use heat-safe glass or ceramic cups as alternatives to plastic. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of jenny downing)

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