Plastic wrap feels like one of those items that are the answer to almost everything. Rather than duct tape, it can be easy to think of plastic wrap as the solution for almost any kitchen need.
That being said, there are sometimes questions about what the limitations of plastic wrap are, particularly when it comes to exposing it to heat.
You might be sure that it can be used in the cold of your fridge, but what about if you need to cover something that you are placing into the oven?
It is only safe to use plastic wrap in the oven if the temperature is not going to exceed 250 degrees F. Plastic wrap melts above this temperature.
You will also find that there are different grades of plastic wrap that are even less able to withstand the temperatures of the oven. As a rule of thumb, this is not a product that can be safely used in the oven.
If you want to learn more about whether it is safe to put plastic wrap in the oven, read on!
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Is it Safe to Put Plastic Wrap in the Oven?
In most cases, the answer to this is no, plastic wrap is not safe to use in the oven. The only time that this is acceptable to do is if you are warming the item in question at a very low temperature and the plastic wrap is not close to the element at the top or the bottom of the oven.
Aluminum foil is a much better product for this need because it will not melt into or onto your food as you warm up the oven.
Plastic wrap can sometimes be used for this need if it is covered by foil, but you will still run the risk of contaminating your food with plastic that has melted onto it.
There is really no benefit to using plastic wrap in this way and it is readily replaced for the task by aluminum foil. The benefits of plastic wrap as far as trapping moisture into an item that you are cooking are almost entirely removed by the risk of the plastic wrap melting.
Can I Safely Cook With Plastic Wrap in the Oven?
It was recently revealed that some top chefs did cook items in their ovens with plastic wrap to lock in some moisture during the cooking process. This led to a flurry of questions about if this was safe.
People wanted to know if it could be done by people at home who wanted to be sure that items that they were cooking did not end up being too dry when they were done with their time in the oven.
The only way to safely cook with plastic wrap is to completely cover it in aluminum foil and to cook at a very low temperature. The temperature cannot exceed 250-degree F and you must use a commercial-grade cling-wrap for the job.
This is the key difference between cooking at home with cling wrap and cooking as a chef with cling wrap. Chefs will have access to higher grade cling wrap that is more likely to tolerate this kind of heat.
The commercial brands are much stronger than generic cling wraps and you will want to avoid thin products like Saran Wrap and Glad Cling Wrap as they will melt at almost any temperature when exposed to the oven.
You can use this commercial-grade cling wrap when slow cooking at very low temperatures but the regular household version of this wrap will not withstand even this challenge and will melt into your food.
What About Toxins in Plastic?
The main concern beyond the mess that might be made by plastic melting in your oven, is that it has been shown that plastic can impart chemicals to the foods that it comes into contact with when heated.
This is why you should never drink water that has been exposed to sunlight in plastic bottles and why you should not get any reusable water container that is not made of safe plastic that will not release chemicals when it has been exposed to sunlight and heat.
There have not been enough specific studies done about cooking with plastic wrap to provide a lot of proof of this connection, but logic says that you cannot expose a water bottle to the sun and then safely drink the water, you will not be able to expose plastic wrap to heat in the oven without opening yourself up to health risks related to the plastic’s chemicals getting into your food.
Due to the risks of cancer and other health problems, exposing yourself and your food to less risk from plastic is a good idea. You can easily heat your food in the oven with aluminum foil over it and get better and safer results for many reasons.
Plastic Wrap Really Does Not Belong in the Oven
If you have been wanting to make sure that your meat products are staying juicy and moist and think that plastic wrap can help with this need, there are better ways to handle this part of your cooking process.
You can easily just slow cook the meat in question in a slow cooker, or you might just reduce the temperature that you are cooking a meat item at to be sure that you will not burn it or dry it out.
Plastic wrap is not likely to ensure that you will get a moist product from your cooking efforts in any case.
Avoiding exposure to chemicals from the process of heating plastic wrap in the oven is a good rule of thumb. You should avoid all contact with plastic wrap where it might melt.
This is one of the reasons that aluminum foil is a much better choice for your baking or cooking needs. If you really need to prevent something from burning or drying out, aluminum foil will take care of all of your needs with ease.