Glass dishes shatter very easily, so people prefer either porcelain or ceramic when looking for new dishes. They are not unbreakable, but they are certainly more durable than glass dishes.
Ceramic is made using clay and heated to solidify it. It is a very versatile material and makes for visually striking dinnerware.
Since we rely on microwaves so much for heating or reheating food, it helps to have utensils that double as microwave-safe containers.
Most ceramic can go in the microwave, but you need to be safe of some details like metal on the rim of the dish or any label that says that the dish is not microwave safe.
There are a few more things you need to know to prevent any mishaps in the kitchen. Let’s go through everything you need to know before microwaving ceramic dishes.
How Is Ceramic Created?
Ceramic is made to create a wide variety of objects. You might be familiar with ceramic plates, mugs and dishes, but it is also used to make vases, pitchers and other home decor items.
As we mentioned, ceramic is made using clay. It is molded like any piece of pottery and heated. The extreme heat sets the dish and makes it long-lasting. Earthenware, porcelain, china and brick are all ceramics.
Can Ceramic Dishes Be Microwaved?
Most ceramic dishes can indeed be microwaved. However, there are a few exceptions to this.
The best to identify a microwaveable dish is to check the label. Sometimes the dish itself is stamped or embossed with a sign that specifies whether it is microwave safe or not.
Even in large sets of ceramic dishes, every individual piece is marked. The words “microwave safe” might be printed or embossed on the bottom or a little microwave symbol will be there to indicate that it is microwave safe.
However, the most important detail is that the sign only means that the dish can be safely placed in the microwave. It won’t shatter or warp if it is heated in the microwave. That is the only criteria needed by manufacturers to mark a dish as “microwave safe”.
The problem with this is that some dishes might be marked microwave safe, but they will get so hot inside the microwave that they can burn you if you touch them.
So always be careful when getting a dish out of the microwave, especially ceramic dishes, because they tend to get very hot.
Also, if something is marked microwave-safe, it doesn’t mean that the item is non-toxic too. The regulations are really lax with this specification, it only attests to the fact that the item won’t be damaged in the microwave.
You still don’t know if it has any harmful chemicals that might be released into the food or into the air when it is heated. The only thing you can be sure of is that it won’t catch on fire or shatter in the microwave.
This is not something very common in ceramic dishes but you should certainly be aware of it if you own ceramic dishes.
Are Ceramic Mugs Microwavable?
This is the question most asked by caffeine lovers—can ceramic go in the microwave? We bet it is because you poured yourself a steaming hot cup of joe and forgot to drink it.
Now it has gone cold and you want to know if your favorite ceramic mug can go in the microwave. Well, we’ve got good news.
Most of the ceramic mugs you can find are microwave safe. But they will be extremely hot after being heated in the microwave, so make sure you handle them with care. Read on for a few things to watch out for while microwaving ceramic mugs.
Are Some Ceramic Mugs Better than Others?
While we don’t have any product recommendations for you, we can give you a few tips on choosing ceramic mugs that are perhaps slightly better for heating in the microwave.
This is the most important thing to look out for—always check if the mug has a metal rim or any design details made of metal. If yes, it cannot be microwaved.
Lighter colors are better for ceramic mugs that will be frequently microwaved. This is because the dark glaze used on ceramics has more manganese than light glazes.
It doesn’t mean that the mug is unsafe in the microwave, but it does get much hotter when heated in a microwave. Lighter colors will be easier to handle.
Once again, be extremely careful when you reach for your ceramic mug after microwaving. A lot of people have experienced burns because they absent-mindedly grabbed a burning hot mug out of the microwave.
Related: How To Make Something Less Salty: Emergency Guidelines For Saving Your Over-Salted Dish
Things to Look Out For
Here are some things you should look out for a while microwaving ceramic dishes:
Sometimes ceramic dishes come with a metal lining around their rim. This is very common in ceramic plates but is also sometimes seen in mugs or bowls.
It is added for the aesthetic effect and really adds to the visual quality of the dish but it also makes it unsafe to microwave.
If there is even a small amount of metal detail or anything that looks metallic, keep it away from the microwave.
It is not worth the risk because the metal inside the microwave can cause fires. If you see any metal on your ceramic dish, it is automatically not microwave safe.
Almost all ceramic items are covered in a glaze. The glaze makes them really pop and is responsible for that glossy finish. Glazes make the ceramic dishes beautiful and distinctive.
Most glazes are safe and do not contaminate the food. However, some glazes are toxic when exposed to heat—they give off radiation. Naturally, you don’t want to put that kind of dish in the microwave.
They don’t come with a warning because they don’t cause any damage at room temperature. When exposed to heat in the microwave, they can release harmful toxins into the air or into the food itself.
You should read up on the brand and the kind of glaze they use to know if there is any cause for concern.
Sometimes glazes have lead in them. Lead poisoning is a very serious threat, and thus, you need to be very cautious of it.
Lead in the ceramic glaze is often not declared because it poses no threat to the person using the dish. It is used in such a way in the manufacturing process that people using the dish are not exposed to the lead in the glaze.
However, if the dish is cracked or chipped (which usually happens at some points due to regular wear and tear), the lead in the glaze might get exposed. This is even more dangerous when you put the dish in the microwave.
We would like to stress that while most ceramic dishes are microwave safe, that doesn’t mean that every ceramic dish you pick up will be microwave safe. You should do your due diligence and check before you put any dish in the microwave.
Make sure you look out for all the factors mentioned above and you shouldn’t have a problem with microwaving ceramic dishes.
Why Do Ceramic Dishes Heat Up in the Microwave?
Ceramic dishes are covered in a glaze that makes them look good. This glaze also heats up very quickly, which is why ceramic dishes are always very hot when they come out of the microwave.
Glazes that are of a lighter color typically get less hot than dark-colored glazes, so if you are looking for a ceramic dish that doesn’t get too hot, go for the lighter color.
How to Tell If the Rim of a Ceramic Dish Is Metal?
Metal rims on ceramic dishes are usually silver or gold in color. They are easily identifiable and you should avoid putting the dish in the microwave if the rim is made of metal.
If the rim seems metallic but you are not sure whether it is safe to put it in the microwave, you should avoid taking the chance and keep it out of the microwave.
It is very dangerous to keep any metal object in the microwave as it could spark and cause a fire. If you are doubtful, it is best to avoid unnecessary risks and use a dish that you know is microwave safe.
Why Do Ceramic Plates Shatter in the Microwave?
Ceramic plates are considered microwave safe, but if your microwave is at a very high setting, the extreme heat can make the plant shatter or crack apart.
Ideally, something like this would never happen with dishes that are labeled “microwave safe” but sometimes ceramic dishes are not made properly or they were heated to the right temperature while being set, which makes them more fragile.
Such dishes break apart when exposed to heat in the microwave. On a side note, always check if the dish is labeled microwave safe before you put it in the microwave.
Maybe a ceramic dish you use is not microwave wave and is labeled such, so you’ll know when you check it.
Ceramic dishes are very common and are a part of almost every household. And so are microwaves! Ceramic dishes are a lot more durable than glass dishes and they can be microwaved, which has made them very popular.
However, remember to always check the label to know if the dish is microwave-safe or not. Some dishes have metal details and aren’t microwave-safe or they are simply not made to withstand the heat in the microwave.
Even microwave-safe ceramic dishes get extremely hot in the microwave, so handle them with caution lest you burn yourself.
Related: Ceramic vs. Porcelain Plates – What’s The Difference?