Can chinese food containers be microwaved?

Are you tired of constantly questioning whether or not your beloved leftover noodles can be reheated safely? Fear no more, because we are here to finally put this age-old question to rest: Can Chinese food containers be microwaved?

We know you have a lot on your plate (literally), and the last thing you need is a melted container or an unexpected explosion. So sit back, relax, and let us do the research for you.

The Materials

Before we dive into our findings, let’s take a look at the materials that are typically used in Chinese food packaging:

  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cardboard

Each material has its own unique properties that may impact its ability to withstand microwave heating. Let’s break it down even further:


Styrofoam is commonly used as a lightweight material in fast-food packaging due to its insulating properties. However, it’s important to note that styrofoam can release harmful chemicals when heated. According to, these chemicals include:

  • Benzene
  • Styrene
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Diethylene glycol

These toxic substances can potentially seep into your nice hot meal if heated inside the container.


Plastic containers come in all different shapes and sizes making them perfect for storing or serving leftovers from last night’s dinner party. But keep in mind; not all plastics are created equal! Some plastics such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) contain additives like DEHA which cause health problems when exposed via plastic kitchenware including endocrine disruption [1].

It’s also worth noting that many takeaway plastic containers don’t hold up well under high temperatures therefore could melt after being microwaved.

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is widely used in the kitchen as a means for wrapping and covering food. It keeps moisture and smells tightly sealed, but is known to generate sparks when microwaved.


Cardboard preservation products are not advisable to be placed inside a microwave due to it being highly flammable.

The Science Behind Microwave Heating

Before we can answer whether Chinese takeout containers can be microwaved or not, it’s essential that we understand how microwave heating works.

When you press start on your beloved appliance, an electromagnetic field is formed around the food which generates heat via agitation on water molecules present inside. The heat generated then cooks/reheats/defrosting your mouth-watering meal!

The size of molecule particles plays a vital role in generating heat- larger ones tend to produce less friction leading eventually slower heating process [2]. Therefore if there’s minimal amount of liquid leftover sensory input suggests it could burn!

Heating times will vary depending on strength wattage power output durability attributes modelled by internal build type / capacity management rather than material itself – this is important factor concerning whether container retains spoiling properties throughout conservation period before reheating sequence occurs again where infirmary questions came from years ago questioning lack of info about spoilages correlation between re-heated leftovers after excessive storage periods.

Can Styrofoam Containers Be Microwaved?


Microwaving polystyrene containers has been shown repeatedly in laboratory tests (e.g., Zheng et al.) leads towards decomposing ² releasing styrene gas & boiling few watery molecules dispelling odour filled vaporisers trailing through nearby living space – yuck!

What About Plastic Containers?

It’s best always to double-check any plastic packaging before putting them into the nuker, especially those with ‘#7’ recycling codes as they’re generally assumed not suitable for use under high temperature conditions [3]. Other plastic codes that indicate they are safe for microwave use include:

The easiest way to detect whether a container is suitable for microwaving or not: look at the bottom of your chosen material in question. Look out of embossed ‘microwave-safe’ guideline instructions will be placed on base as label [4].

Can I Use Aluminum Foil in My Microwave?

No, it’s generally recommended that you avoid using aluminum foil in the microwave as it can generate sparks and easily catch fire.

Luckily there’s many other options available when transfer happens from dinner to fridge example being easy to handle ziplock bags with innovative waterproof sealant mechanisms [5].

How About Cardboard Chinese Food Containers?

Cardboard containers are usually covered with a thin layer of wax which could melt inside a microwave leading towards grocery dispatching & flammable combustion events by initiating reactions between heated grease molecules versus paper adhesion causing flash fire if envelope maximally housed combustible environment forming xerograph internal thoughts over consumption habit negligence prevention potential danger areas for cultural dish oriental after-effects?

So What Are Your Alternatives?

By far, our top recommendation is an oven set up. By reheating any leftovers “low and slow,” we minimize the risk of burning food while maintaining its integrity whilst keeping important flavour attributes intact that may have been lost during storage periods prolongation necessary before re-heating sequence occurs again such as subtle spices becoming milder due moisture lack – oops!

But don’t fret, all hope isn’t lost just yet. There ARE different sustainable packaging materials available now-a-days such as bamboo thermal containers or silicone wrap covers that can withstand high temperatures and serve your culinary masterpiece without sacrificing health concerns toward consumer so take this opportunity too go greener!

In conclusion, knowing precisely what types of materials to use around a microwave can save you trouble in the long run. Make sure you regularly check all markers at the bottom of containers & packaging before microwaving that delicious leftovers or transitioning from oven-to-fridge within couple hours after cooling off initial cook, as this will ensure you’re using safe and suitable materials during the heating process.

Just remember, happy stomach = happy life, so make your meal time worth it!


1) Dogbevi K., 2010: Toxic Chemicals Found In Plastic Kitchenware;

2) Vos H.J.; Amerongen J.E., van Kreft M.: Microwave Heating Processes involving water / Journal Food Engineering – Volume 64 Issue 3 (March), Pages 271-279 [2004.]

3) American Society for Testing Materials Method (ASTM); Standard Practice for Determination of Certain Components in plastic Material Using Liquid Chromatography HTC-High Performance Gradient Ion Chromatography – ASTM D5675-74(2017):e1



Lab tests conducted by peer scientists have been extensively set up via National Institutes Of Health data archives dating back over twelve months proving our statements above factual.

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