Can You Put Plastic In The Oven? – Complete Guide

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Not having the exact baking container you need can be frustrating. For that reason, many people have opted to use their plastic storage containers instead.

After all, they’re easier to find and often more affordable! What could go wrong?

You’ve probably seen the nightmarish pictures of melted containers on the web.

So, why do people still do it? Why can you find “oven-safe” plastic baking trays?

Can you put plastic in the oven? The short answer: even if they advertise something as “oven-safe,” when it comes to true plastics, nothing is really safe to use at those temperatures for prolonged periods. All plastics will eventually melt, release toxic and harmful chemicals, and completely ruin your oven. Not to mention that they are a nightmare to clean, and removing the burnt plastic smell will take weeks!

In today’s articles, we explore this topic in more depth.

From which materials are safer to use than others, when you can potentially use oven-safe plastics, and the pros and cons of doing so.

And, if you had the misfortune of melting a bowl or container, we’ve also provided a handy guide on cleaning the mess.

Can You Put Plastic In The Oven?

Let’s get straight to it:

The answer is simple: 99.9% of plastics can NOT be used inside a heated oven.

Most plastics, regardless of the exact combination or type of materials used to make them, will soften at very low temperatures, causing them to disfigure.

At slightly higher temperatures, they will start to release toxic chemicals that can cause pretty serious illnesses. And finally, the plastic container, plate, or bowl will melt completely, leaving you with a nightmare of a mess to clean out of the oven!

The bottom line; it is not safe to use in the oven. The downsides far outweigh any minuscule benefits of doing so.

Now, some people may be asking at this point, “At what exact temperatures does plastic start to melt?”

That’s an impossible question to give a specific answer to. It depends entirely on the type of plastic you have and even the combination and ratios of the material used to make that plastic. 

While there are only 7 main categories of true plastics, each has a bunch of sub-categories as well.

Here are some examples:

Type of PlasticMelting Point Range
PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)260-280°C (500-536°F)
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)120-180°C (248-356°F)
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)75-110°C (167-230°F)
LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)105-115°C (221-239°F)
PP (Polypropylene)130-171°C (266-340°F)
PS (Polystyrene)100-120°C (212-248°F)
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)105-125°C (221-257°F)
PC (Polycarbonate)250-300°C (482-572°F)

So, as you can see, it changes a lot depending on the exact type of plastic you used.

Now, that being said, there isn’t any type of true plastic that will withstand temperatures above 400⁰F (204⁰C).

Plastic Versus Silicone – What’s the Difference?

Now, it’s important to understand that silicone or rubber is not plastic, despite looking similar. 

Silicone is a material made from synthetic plastic polymers and synthetic rubber.

Plastic materials are made from a combination of plants, crude oil, and natural gas.

Silicone, therefore, has a much higher heat-resistant temperature (around 446⁰F or 230⁰C) which won’t melt in the oven.

This article is quite informative on the exact structural and functional differences between the two. 

At the end of the day, when we talk about “plastic” in this article, we are specifically talking about the 7 main categories of plastic and their subcategories – not plastic lookalikes that aren’t truly plastic.

P.s. If you want a great starter silicone baking set, this is my favorite from Amazon.

Microwave-Safe Plastics Versus Oven-Safe Plastics?

This is another important point to take note of. 

As you most likely know, or even have in your home, there are products labeled as “microwave-safe plastics.” 

What makes these unique is that they can withstand exposure to high temperatures for short amounts of time.

The reason they cannot be used (at the same temperature) inside an oven is that the oven will expose them to heat for much longer, causing them to melt.

You may have even seen that some “microwave-safe plastics” start softening if they are left in the microwave for too long. This is exactly why.

So, please do not think that if something is microwave-safe it is also oven-safe. This goes for ALL materials, not only plastics.

Are There Any Types Of Plastics That Are Oven-Safe?

Now, despite the overall answer still being “no,” there is one exception: CPET, also known as Crystallized Polyethylene Terephthalate. A mouthful, we know!

This plastic has been crystallized in a specific way to make it more heat-resistant. Again, depending on the exact brand, CPET can withstand temperatures up to 400ºF (204⁰C).

However: We STILL don’t recommend using it. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • Despite claiming the specific container can be used at a temperature as high as 400ºF (204⁰C), they will NEVER say “oven-safe” because that specifies longer periods of time. These containers can be used in the microwave, but that’s pretty much it. If you end up with melted plastic in your oven, they’ll simply say, “We never said oven-safe.”
  • You have no idea what temperature your oven is TRULY running at unless you have a digital thermometer inside. If the temperature slightly surpasses the maximum allowed amount, the container could start softening or worse, releasing toxic chemicals.
  • Speaking of chemicals, you don’t know the exact temperature that the container will release said toxins. The only thing that “400ºF” refers to is the temperature before the container starts melting, not when it will release chemicals.

The risks of using any type of plastic inside the oven are just too high. And if you have ever had to remove a toxic chemical burnt plastic smell, you know it’s not worth the risk. You ruin your meal, and you ruin your week.

Can You Use CPET In The Oven At Low Temperatures?

It should be much safer to use at temperatures below 212⁰F (100ºC). In fact, the lower the better. 

This could come in handy if you are slow-cooking meats or vegetables. You can even dehydrate at a very low temperature.

That being said, no experiment has been done on the effects of prorogued heat (albeit low) on this material. So, while it may not melt within 1 hour at 122⁰F (50ºC), it could still start releasing toxic chemicals.

Solution: Just Use Another Oven-Safe Material

It is not the end of the world if you cannot use plastic in your oven. In fact, there are more downsides than pros!

Plastic is not an as environmentally friendly material as something like glass or even metal. It has a long shelf life, but STILL, people tend to toss it away after a couple of months or years.

However, the only time glass baking trays are tossed is if they chip, and even then maybe not.

Furthermore, plastic is not a great material to use in the oven. It is highly likely to melt or release harmful chemicals that can cause some life-threatening illnesses.

Oven-Safe Materials

Luckily, there is no shortage of oven-safe materials to choose from. And they are generally a lot easier to find and more affordable than specially designed “oven-safe plastic.”

You can also buy these in different designs, sizes, shapes, and colors. Again, no shortage of options!

Glass (like Pyrex) and metal are arguably the most common options. They are heat resistant, easy to clean, made from recyclable materials, affordable, versatile, and ergonomic as well.

You can also take a look at stoneware cooking vessels or ceramic options. These are more expensive than metal or glass but come in much more specialized designs.

Here is a helpful list of some popular oven-safe materials:

Glass (including Pyrex and tempered glass)450-500°F (232-260°C)
CeramicVaries by type, typically up to 500°F (260°C)
Stainless Steel500°F (260°C)
Cast Iron500°F (260°C)
Aluminum450-500°F (232-260°C)
Silicone450°F (232°C)

How To Remove Melted Plastic From Your Oven

It’s a nightmare – we’ve had the misfortune of having to do it a couple of times (specifically when testing “oven-safe” products).

Spoiler, they are never truly oven-safe.

First of all, when plastic melts in the oven, it often bonds with the surface it lands on. This makes it a challenge to remove, to say the least.

What’s worse is when it doesn’t completely drip off your oven rack – it just droops through and hardens below it.

So, what do you do?

To start, you have to let the plastic harden.

DO NOT TOUCH IT! It is extremely hot and will cause you serious burns, especially when it sticks to your skin!

Switch off your oven, open the door, and open the windows or doors to the kitchen.

You have to ventilate the space otherwise those chemicals may affect you severely. If possible, grab a mask.

Allow the oven to cool for a while. During this time, the plastic will start to harden again.

After about 30 minutes to an hour, place some ice on top of the melted plastic. The ice may melt. But it will also shock the plastic and make it hard.

Now, if you are lucky, you will be able to pull the plastic off of the surface once the oven has cooled completely.

If you are unlucky, you will need to use a metal scraper or razor blade. Neither of these options is ideal because both will most likely damage the surface of the oven.

This is why, again, you should completely avoid using plastic in the oven in the first place.

Removing the burnt, melted plastic smell is not as easy, which tells you something. This smell will linger and linger for weeks. 

Your best chance at removing it is to ventilate the kitchen and place deodorizers inside the space and oven. Coffee grounds, vanilla, vinegar, and lemon work well.

One Comment

  1. Hi Jaron, thank you for your informative post. I just bought a 3 in 1 microwave with oven and grill. Now I’m at a loss as to what would be the ideal containers to use, especially since the microwave-function can be combined with the oven-function.
    Appreciate any tips you can give me.

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