Can You Microwave Ceramic? – The Complete Guide
If you want a strong and reliable material for your new dish set, ceramic and porcelain are some of the most popular options that are known for their strength and durability.
While these are still breakable, they tend to be slightly less fragile than glass dishes.
Ceramic is formed using clay. Ceramic dishes of all kinds are made when the clay is heated to extreme temperatures and then formed and shaped into the dish or utensil that you are using.
They make gorgeous dishes that can often be versatile for use.
Can you microwave ceramic? You can microwave ceramic dishes, for the most part, as long as there is no metal on the rim or in any decorative details. You should always check for labels that say the dishes are microwave-safe.
The good news is you can microwave ceramic cups and plates, but there are some things you should be aware of in order to prevent running into any issues when you do microwave a ceramic item.
In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know in regards to microwaving ceramics. We have some tips for identifying whether or not your piece is microwave-safe as well as some specific items to avoid microwaving.
Keep reading to learn all of the need-to-know information about microwaving ceramic.
How Are Ceramic Dishes Made?
The category of ceramics is fairly broad.
While in this guide you might be thinking primarily of serving dishes or plates and cups and mugs, the category is not limited to these items. You might also find pitchers, vases, and more that are made with ceramic.
Since we are talking about microwaving your ceramic items, we thought it might be helpful to just briefly cover how ceramics are made.
Most of the time, ceramics are made through clay. The clay is molded and formed, just as in any pottery process.
Ceramics include all kinds of things like brick, earthenware, and porcelain (or china). Most dishware is traditionally ceramic.
First, the clay is formed, and then to set it, it is fired at intense heat. The heating process hardens the material to make it durable and long-lasting.
Most ceramic can be microwaved but there are some exceptions.
Is You Ceramic Safe to Microwave?
What you will find is that in general, your ceramic dishes are microwave-safe. Most of them might even be stamped that way or have another symbol on them that means the same thing.
We do recommend that you check your items and your packaging for these labels to know if they can be used in the microwave.
Even in sets of ceramic dishes, every piece should be marked in some way as “microwave-safe”. The indicator may be these precise words printed or stamped on the bottom of the dish or a symbol that looks like a microwave.
But, here is what you really should know about that label that says microwave-safe. This label simply means that you can microwave your item without damaging or breaking it.
There are really no regulations that prevent manufacturers from placing that label as long as the item won’t warp or damage in the microwave.
The kicker is that while they may be microwave-safe the dish may be too hot to handle after you have microwaved it.
Always handle your items with caution, particularly ceramic dishes as they do get very hot to the touch when they are microwaved.
One more thing we want to mention. We always assume that if something has that microwave-safe label that it means the item is non-toxic. We just want to point out again that these markings are really not regulated.
When you microwave a “microwave-safe” labeled item, you can be sure it won’t cause a fire or break the item. However, there is often no way to know whether it could be emitting toxic chemicals into the microwave or your food or the air.
This is not likely with ceramic dishes but it is always a possibility so keep that in mind. These are just things to be aware of as you microwave ceramic items.
Can You Microwave Ceramic Mugs?
The question of the day is here. When you’re asking about microwaving ceramic, we can just bet you’re curious about reheating that mug of coffee that’s gone cold.
You just used your favorite ceramic mug this morning and now you need to warm your drink!
It totally happens! More often than not if you have busy mornings, we’re sure. The good news is that most ceramic mugs are microwave-safe.
Keep in mind our tips from the previous section that denote that your mug may be very hot when it comes out of the microwave. Always handle your ceramic mug with caution after it has been heated.
In terms of microwaving ceramic mugs, we have a few other points to make.
What is the Best Ceramic Mug to Use?
We’re not here to make a specific product recommendation but rather just give you some insight on carefully choosing your ceramic mug to have the best results when you microwave.
First things first, make sure your ceramic mug doesn’t have a metal rim or metal added for decorative purposes.
If there is a metal rim or metal on the cup, you won’t be able to microwave it. This one small added thing could negate everything else and make the cup not microwave-safe.
When choosing a ceramic mug that you want to be able to use in the microwave, look for a mug with lighter colors.
The dark glazes that are used on ceramic mugs actually have higher levels of manganese. While this doesn’t make the mug unsafe to microwave, it probably will make the mug get hotter in the microwave.
The dark glazes tend to get excessively heated while the light glazes tend to stay cooler in the microwave.
Again, please be very careful when reaching for your ceramic mug after microwaving it as there have been instances of burns, particularly with dark glazes.
Things to Watch For
We’ve pretty much ascertained now that most ceramics can be microwaved. We gave you some tips on the rules of microwaving and even pointed out some specific ground rules for microwaving your ceramic mugs.
We do have some other general information and things to walk for that we want to cover with you so you can be fully prepared for understanding whether or not you can microwave ceramic.
Watch for Metal
Some ceramic dishes have a ring of metal around the edges. This is something that has been common particularly with plates but it also happens on mugs and bowls.
It’s an added little piece of décor that makes the ceramic item really pop. Unfortunately, that small ring of metal also makes your ceramic item not safe to microwave.
If your ceramic dishes have noticeable metal on them or even a ring that looks like metal, don’t risk it.
Metal and microwaves don’t mix and can actually cause sparks or fires. If there is metal anywhere on any of your dishes, ceramic or otherwise, they are not microwave-safe.
Know Your Glazes
Most ceramic items are covered in a glaze to make them decorative and colorful. You might recognize items like Fiestaware that you know are ceramic but which are also made fun or pretty using glaze to cover the surface.
Some of these are perfectly safe but you should be aware that not all of them are. Some of these glazes have been noted by the EPA to give off radiation when they are microwaved.
While these things may not affect your food and drink at normal temperatures, when you microwave the item, it might release toxic chemicals into the air and your food.
Many of these items have been tested over time and you could do a bit of research on your brand or item to really know what is in the glaze and whether you should be concerned.
Much like some glazes might produce radiation in the microwave, there are also some glazes that could potentially have lead in them.
Lead in the glaze is often not disclosed to you in any way as when it is manufactured, it is done so safely.
If your ceramics become chipped or cracked, this is when there could potentially be a lead exposure, particularly if you place the items in the microwave.
Is It Safe?
Ultimately, be aware that MOST ceramics can be microwaved. There are certainly some things to watch for and be aware of but the general rule is that there is no harm in microwaving ceramics.
Keep these tips in mind and understand the dishes before you take the chance.
We hope that this guide helps to better understand whether or not you can microwave ceramic.
We invite you to review our question and answer section for some additional information.
Why Do Ceramics Get Hot in the Microwave?
It is typically the glaze that causes ceramics to get so hot in the microwave. It is better to use the microwave for ceramics that have lighter-colored glazes on them.
How Do You Know if the Rim is Metal?
You will be able to tell if the rim is gold or silver in color. If you have this type of rim, you should not microwave your ceramic item.
Why Did My Ceramic Plate Crack in the Microwave?
Ceramics and glazes do sometimes crack under extremely hot temperatures. If your microwave is especially powerful or set to a very high temperature, it may cause some cracks in your dishes.
If your ceramic dishware is labeled ‘microwave-safe’ this shouldn’t happen. However, some cheaper ceramics or poorly-made ceramics which haven’t been fired at the right temperature may crack.
It’s always good to check if your dishes are microwave-safe – for your safety, but also for your dishes’ sake.