Can You Microwave Paper Cups? [2020]

Everyone nowadays is drinking beverages frequently when strolling through the streets and from when they are free from work. The beverage that is most consumed is coffee. When you get coffee from a coffee shop like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, you’re usually getting cups made of paper. But what we not know is that there are other materials also present in the cup.

There is a coating of wax that keeps your beverage from leaking out and bend your paper cup. These are not recyclable because of materials like polyethylene which is a type of plastic. The inclusion of plastic and wax materials make these cups unrecyclable.

The majority of paper coffee cups these days are manufactured with polyethylene which raises the question if they are microwave safe or not? According to a study, microwaving a product with plastic can cause estrogenic activity in the body which can lead to obesity and other health-related issues.

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In this article, we are going to discuss that we can microwave these cups or not (like dixie coffee cups or solo hot cups). Well, the simple and short answer is ‘No’. We should not microwave paper cups either it is in the form of dixie cups or solo hot cups. It means you can’t microwave cups of famous brands like ‘Dunkin Donuts’ or ‘Starbucks’.

If you really need to you can microwave for as long as 50 seconds at maximum power. But it is still not recommended. Well, the reason behind this is because of how these paper cups are being made.

These paper cups are usually made of wax and with a plastic lining inside. There is a chance of paper cups melting and dissolving into the beverage if you expose it to sudden high temperatures.

Microwave usually does not heat things evenly and if there is any part of a cup that is dry, it will be harmful. If you’re lucky, the cup will melt in some parts or the coffee taste will be a little off. In a worst-case scenario, the cup can melt, catch fire, break, start smoking or anything relating to sudden heat. Well, in any case, you’re better off drinking your coffee before its gone cold.

Different Types of Coffee Cups

Although disposable coffee cups are made from plastic and paper there are some other options available.

These include:

  • Styrofoam coffee cups
  • Recycled paper coffee cups
  • Regular foam coffee cups

Styrofoam coffee cups usually microwave safe but you should look for the label for extra safety. Recycled paper coffee cups contain glues and materials that don’t microwave safe and there is a risk of fire too. On the other hand, regular foam cups should never be microwaved.

Why it is bad to microwave cups

Paper cups have written warnings on them to not microwave them but people do not take it seriously and try to put them in the microwave. Microwaves are good for reheating food but for paper cups, it’s a different story. Due to the material from which paper cups are made, they are not suitable for microwaving.

The glue that is used to hold the cup together is can only withstand the heat of a freshly brewed coffee, any more heat and it will melt. The microwave works in a way that it agitates the molecules in your food or drink and this makes the food hot. Liquids do well but paper coffee cups are not suitable.

Reheating Coffee Cup

Well, we talked about microwaving the paper cups but what about reheating them? Coffee is good when in its fresh and not reheated. Normally coffee remains fresh for 30 to 36 minutes after it’s been brewed. The coffee loses its flavor as it cools down so when we reheat it, its flavor gets even poorer. If you are solely using it to get a dose of caffeine then cheers, it won’t affect the caffeine content. Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid getting the coffee to the boiling point.

If it gets to the boiling point or close to boiling, the taste will be off and coffee will be burnt. Then you’re better making a fresh cup of coffee. If you really need to reheat your cup of coffee, you should put it in something other than a paper cup of coffee. You can put it in a glass cup or ceramic cup as long as its not paper or metal. You can reheat cups that are made from Styrofoam (like Dunkin Donuts Styrofoam cups) but they are also not recommended.

What If You Don’t Have an Option

Well if you don’t have an option and stuck with paper cups, you can risk heating paper cups. You can do this by being cautious. Here are some ways;

  • Be careful with parts that are not covered with coffee, like the upper part of the cup.
  • Remove the lid before putting the cup in the microwave and you can put it back when it is heated.
  • Keep the setting of microwave to medium and heat it in one-minute cycles.
  • Try to heat it just enough so you can hold the paper cup easily. This may not make coffee hot, but it will be warm enough without wrapping the cup.
  • Check for labels that say “microwave safe”.
  • Reheating can create uneven heat pockets in coffee so give it a stir.
  • If the plastic is microwave safe, try to make the heating time short.
  • You can put it into a container first which is microwave safe.
  • You can check on the manufacturer’s website about their products being microwavable or not
  • You can use ceramic or glassware items which are microwave friendly

In these cases, the taste of the coffee may be not up to the point but it may be drinkable. In any case, it is better to avoid microwaving paper cups or paper containers in general like Panera soup cups, Starbucks coffee cups or Dunkin Donuts cups. You’re better off with freshly brewed coffee 😊.

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