Is Wood Microwave Safe? (5 Things That Are Unsafe For Your Oven)

Last Updated on August 9, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

No, wood is generally not microwave safe. Microwaves can cause wood to heat up, warp, crack, or even catch fire due to the moisture content and uneven heating. It’s best to avoid using wood in microwaves for safety reasons.

Can You Microwave Wooden Bowls?

The immediate and conclusive answer to the question, ‘Can you microwave wooden bowls?’ is no. Wooden bowls cannot be microwaved safely due to their composition, moisture content, and tendencies when heated. Here is a listicle detailing the reasons:

1. Potential Fire Hazard
Wood is a flammable material. When wood is exposed to microwave radiation, it can result in a fire hazard. Unlike glass or ceramic, wood can’t withstand the intense heat produced in a microwave and could easily catch fire.

2. Damage to the Wooden Bowl
Even if the wooden bowl does not catch fire, microwaving can still lead to extensive damage. Heating can cause warping or splitting, damaging the bowl’s structure and aesthetics. The heat also dries out the wood and can cause it to crack.

3. Moisture Content
Wood is known for its ability to absorb and retain moisture. When microwaved, this moisture can quickly turn into steam causing the bowl to crack or warp. Moreover, this moisture, when heated, may cause hotspots that can scorch.

4. Microwave Efficiency
Wooden bowls can decrease the effectiveness of the microwave. The heat is absorbed by the bowl instead of being transferred to the food, resulting in longer cooking times and uneven heating.

5. Chemical Leakage
If the wooden bowl has been treated with chemicals, microwaving might cause these chemicals to leach into the food. This could render the food unsafe to eat.

Alternatives to Wooden Bowls
Instead of microwaving food in a wooden bowl, consider using microwave-safe alternatives:

CeramicCan be microwaved safely, provided it doesn’t have metallic paint or inlays.
GlassA safe, heat-resistant option for microwaving.
PlasticSafe if labeled as microwave-safe. Avoid plastics that are not labeled as such.

Why Can’t You Use Wood Dishes For Microwave Food?

A lot of kitchen utensils these days are made of wood. However, you cannot use them to heat your food. This is due to the simple reason that they are highly flammable. A microwave does not only heat the surface of the object. It heats an object or food entirely from the inside. The wood will burn from the inside, and you may even not realize it until you notice the fumes. Hence, it is highly risky and should be avoided at all costs.

The microwave can heat up instantly and will dry up any object. We all are familiar with the fact that it dries the water in the food while heating. A similar thing happens to your wooden kitchen utensils. Wood contains a lot of moisture. Putting them in the microwave will dry the wooden utensils. Kitchen utensils are dryer than natural wood. Moreover, wood is a combustible substance and has traditionally been used for causing fire for various purposes. 

Hence, putting them in the oven is not safe as it can cause your wood utensils to shrink or crack. They can even catch fire.

The Following Table Will Sum Up Wooden Utensils That Are Safe Or Unsafe To Put In A Microwave.

ItemsMicrowave SafeUnsafe To Put In The Microwave
Wooden plates, dishes, and bowlsNoYes
Utensils made of bambooNoYes
Wooden skewersYesNo
5)Certified microwave friendly wooden utensilsYesNo

Can You Dry Wood In A Microwave Oven?

As we discussed earlier, wood has certain moisture content. Suppose you are somebody who uses wood for handmade DIY projects. You must have witnessed that air-dried wood cracks after a certain duration. This is due to the fact that wood loses moisture over time in a much drier indoor environment. This can cause it to shrink and lose shape. Some gaps may appear or widen with time. Hence, it is better to use dried wood. Wood dried in the microwave will reduce its moisture content, and post-installation shrinkage will be reduced too. The amount of time will depend on the wood and its size. You can put a few pieces of wood together. However, make sure all the stacked pieces have the same moisture content. You may need to experiment a little with a few initial pieces to figure out what works best. However, this is extremely risky as wood is highly flammable. Ensure safety and caution before carrying out these experiments. Also, certain types of wood can have toxic fumes that can be really dangerous.

Other Points To Keep In Mind Are As Mentioned Below.

  • Make sure that pieces are small enough to fit in the microwave and rotate properly.
  • Make stacks of wood and place them over each other. This will increase the thickness/height of the object being heated and will reduce the risk of overheating.
  • Wood loses its weight as it loses the water content in the wood. Hence keep the scale handy to measure the weight before and after heating. Also, if you can fairly ascertain the moisture content in a particular log, the time required to heat it can be ascertained.
  • Set the microwave in defrosting mode for 60-90 seconds.
  • Set the time interval as per the size of the wood and keep checking at regular intervals. If the wood becomes too hot to handle that means it is overheated. Try a shorter interval next time.
  • Make sure all the wood pieces have the same moisture content so that they will dry in the same proportion. This is also helpful in fixing a particular duration to dry up the wood pieces.

What If You Need To Heat Food In A Wooden Bowl?

There are certain situations where you may not have many options in terms of utensils. Wooden utensils are already dry, and the chances of them cracking are more. If you need to put a wooden bowl in the microwave, you need to add extra moisture. You can wet or soak a wooden bowl before you put them in the microwave. This way, you have increased the moisture content in the wood artificially. When you put this utensil in the microwave, it will heat up and will slowly start heating and drying the wood as well as the food inside it. Adding extra moisture will prolong the healing time for the wood, and you will be able to heat your food nicely. 

However, this is not a safe option and should be avoided if possible. Also, placing wooden utensils in the microwave reduces its longevity.

Can You Put A Wooden Skewer In The Microwave?

Reheating your kebab in the microwave comes with a dilemma of its own. Metal skewers are not recommended at all in the microwave. Also, sharp metal objects can damage your microwave.

You can put wooden skewers in the microwave, obviously with food. In this case, the risk of the wooden skewer burning or your microwave getting damaged is really low. Soaking them in water can be helpful. Also, be careful with the timing of heating. Also, chopsticks made of bamboo are safe and heatable in the microwave. There are frozen hot dogs available in the market that comes with a wooden stick. You can reheat it with the stick in the microwave as they are microwave safe and are specially built to endure heat while frying and cooking.

What Happens When You Put Wood/ Wooden Utensils In The Microwave?

The utensils made of wood, such as dishes, plates, and bowls, are not safe to be put in a microwave. Not only will it destroy the utensil, but it can cause fumes that can be very dangerous. This is due to the fact that some dishes have finished and paint used on its surface. Also, the glue used on its joint can melt and create toxic fumes.

However, in this age of technology, nothing is impossible, and there are certain companies that produce wooden utensils that are microwave safe. You can check the manufacturing label on the dishes before putting them in the microwave.