Styrofoam, also known as expanded polystyrene (EPS), is a common material used for take-out containers, cups, packaging materials, and more.
It’s lightweight, inexpensive, and keeps hot foods and liquids insulated. But can Styrofoam go in the oven? The short answer is no. Styrofoam should never be put in the oven.
Why You Shouldn’t Put Styrofoam In The Oven
There are a few key reasons why Styrofoam and ovens don’t mix:
Styrofoam Melts easily.
Styrofoam starts to soften and melt at temperatures above 165°F. Most ovens, even on the lowest temperature setting, reach temperatures well above this point. Putting Styrofoam in the oven will cause it to rapidly melt into a liquid mess.
The melting point of Styrofoam can vary slightly based on the type of polystyrene used to manufacture it. However, all Styrofoam products will melt in the oven, regardless of specific melting point differences. Don’t take the risk.
Melted Styrofoam is dangerous.
When Styrofoam melts, it releases toxic fumes that can be hazardous to breathe in. The main chemical released is styrene, which is a neurotoxin and possible carcinogen.
Melted Styrofoam can also stick to the inside of your oven and be very difficult to fully remove. Over time, trace amounts of styrene could leach into your food. It’s best to avoid this health risk by never putting Styrofoam in the oven in the first place.
As Styrofoam heats up and melts, it can produce flammable vapors. There’s a risk these vapors could ignite, causing a fire inside your oven. This is an obvious safety hazard you’ll want to avoid.
Fires fueled by melted Styrofoam can burn fast and hot, making them difficult to extinguish. For your safety, it’s critical to keep Styrofoam well away from high heat sources like ovens.
Alternatives to Putting Styrofoam In The Oven
Instead of putting that Styrofoam take-out box or coffee cup directly in the oven, here are some safe alternatives:
Transfer Food to an oven-Safe dish.
The simplest option is to transfer any food in a Styrofoam container to an oven-safe baking dish or pan before heating. Glass, ceramic, metal, and high-heat plastics are common oven-safe materials.
This prevents any direct contact between the Styrofoam and the heat source. Just make sure to fully remove any plastic film covers or lids as well, since those can also melt.
Use the microwave.
If you want to reheat food in a Styrofoam takeout container, use the microwave instead of the oven. Microwaves heat food directly, rather than heating the surrounding air or container.
Microwave-safe plastics can withstand the radiation. Styrofoam will still start to warp and melt if cooked too long, so use care. Only microwave in short bursts, and check frequently.
Replace with thermoplastic plastics.
Upgrade to more heat-resistant food containers and cups, like those made from thermoset plastics. Thermosets don’t melt or release toxins when exposed to high temperatures.
Popular brands of thermoset plastic containers include Melamine, Bakelite, and Tupperware. Or choose ceramic coffee cups and mugs instead of Styrofoam.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it OK to put Styrofoam in the oven at a low temperature?
No, Styrofoam should never be put in the oven, even at lower temperatures. Most ovens don’t go below 170°F, which is still hot enough to melt Styrofoam. Don’t take any chances.
What about Styrofoam egg cartons?
Egg cartons made of Styrofoam will melt just like other Styrofoam products. Transfer any eggs to a baking dish or oven-safe pan before cooking. You can also purchase reusable plastic or ceramic egg holders.
Can Styrofoam go in a toaster oven?
Toaster ovens also get hot enough to melt Styrofoam. A toaster oven runs at temperatures around 300–450 °F. Stick to transferring food to metal, glass, or ceramic dishes before putting it in a toaster oven.
Is it safe to put Styrofoam in the oven if I don’t turn it on?
Technically, storing Styrofoam containers or products inside a cool oven that is not turned on will not cause melting. However, this is still not recommended. There is a risk someone could unknowingly preheat the oven with the Styrofoam inside, causing a hazardous situation. Only keep oven-safe items inside your oven.
What’s the best way to clean up melted Styrofoam in my oven?
Unfortunately, melted Styrofoam can be very difficult to fully remove from an oven. Avoid this scenario in the first place by never putting Styrofoam in there. If you do end up with melted plastic in your oven, try a combination of scraping it out, high-heat oven cleaner chemicals, and replacement oven parts if needed.
The Bottom Line
Styrofoam does not belong anywhere near an oven. The high temperatures will cause hazardous melting and the release of toxic chemicals.
Always transfer food from Styrofoam into oven-safe cookware before heating. Stick to microwave-safe plastics for a safer reheating option.
Never store or place Styrofoam products inside an oven to avoid accidental melting. With the right heat-resistant materials, you can safely keep Styrofoam far away from your oven at all times.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.