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Is Melamine Dinnerware Microwave Safe?

Is Melamine Dinnerware Microwave Safe? The Answer is Surprising!

Many health-conscious people often wonder whether melamine dinnerware is microwave safe or not. Let us ponder on this pressing concern of the new age, and find out the answer, by going through this HomeQuicks article.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2018
Dinner Set
A melamine dinner set comes in vibrant colors and trendy designs, and is unbreakable in spite of daily wear and tear. Also, they are light in weight, and easy to clean and store as well. These features make melamine a popular choice for dinnerware. However, in today's age of microwave cooking, we've had this urge to use it for heating food in the microwave.

It has become a matter of concern for many people after its use was reported to be the cause of deaths for some children and pets in the early 21st century. Since then, there have been many question marks on the safety of using them in the microwaves. So, is it really safe to use? Before knowing about its safety, first let us take a look at what melamine is.

What is Melamine?
It is a hard, thermosetting plastic material that is made from polymerization of melamine and formaldehyde. It contains 67% nitrogen by mass and is made by mixing urea. It has fire retardant properties as it releases nitrogen when burned. It also contains cyromazine, a type of pesticide. It is also used to make floor tiles, whiteboards, and melamine dishes. The resin is fire-resistant, heat-resistant, and very durable. It is a versatile material having great stability, which is why it can be molded into various shapes and colored with bright colors and designs when it is warm.

Is it Safe to Use Melamine Dishes in a Microwave?
As mentioned earlier, it is fire and heat-resistant. Thus, if you have been using it in microwaves, you won't find it catching fire or getting charred. However, it tends to absorb the radiation and heat. This makes one wonder if it is really suitable to use as cookware. Well, the answer is NO! This is because it tends to absorb the radiation and starts to decompose, which makes it highly dangerous.

If it absorbs enough heat, it will become unstable and release bubbles as it breaks down in structure. It contains nitrogen that does not allow it to burn. Thus, it just breaks down to its original elements urea and cyromazine. These two compounds are extremely dangerous and highly toxic.

Experts have found melamine to be harmful when inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that when melamine and cyanuric acid enters the bloodstream it forms crystals that can block the renal tubes, leading to kidney damage or even failure. Thus, heating it in a microwave oven is a big no no!

Why Do We Use It?
It comes cheap and in a variety of colors, designs, and shapes. When it was first produced in the '50s and '60s, microwaves were not yet an integral part of our kitchens. So, all it was used for was serving dinner and not heating. The FDA has conducted tests and found it to be safe for use without posing any health risk. However, they have laid down certain guidelines regarding its use. These guidelines state that
  • You should not use these dishes to feed infants and children.
  • You should never heat food or drinks in a melamine dish, bowl, or cup.
  • You should never use melamine in microwave ovens until and unless it has been clearly marked 'microwave safe'.

So, now that you know about the safety, there is no need to throw your dinnerware in the garbage. All you need is to make sure that you exert some caution while using them. Remember, as long as you do not heat anything in this dinnerware, it is safe to use. So, enjoy your dinner in your melamine plates and bowls. Simply remember to keep them away from your microwave.