Is pottery safe to microwave? For the most part, yes. The exceptions include broken pottery, pottery that have been glued together, pressure-sealed pottery with water inside, any pottery that heats up too easily, and kintsukuroi (broken pottery glued together with gold).
Most people don’t microwave handmade pottery. They’re likelier to make stews on such pots on the stovetop or bake things on the traditional oven than put pots on the microwave. Instead, most people use plates and dishes as well as saucers or cups and mugs to microwave-heat food and beverages.
However, how microwaveable are handmade pots? So is handmade pottery microwave safe? Or is it not?
Is Handmade Pottery Microwave-Safe?
Most pottery, handmade or not, is microwave-safe. Perhaps only the thinnest and most porous of ceramics should stay off-limits from microwaves due to risk of thermal shock or excessive heat retention. For the most part, pottery is seemingly made for microwaves (even though it’s not).
If you heat up most pots on the microwave, nothing will happen. It might get somewhat warm but it won’t get excessively warm because it’s made to insulate against outward temperatures while keeping the food inside it hot.
It won’t harm the microwaved food either because it’s 100% BPA-free. Even more so than plastics claiming to be 100% BPA-free since it contains zero plasticizers.
When is Handmade Pottery Not Microwave-Safe?
Yes. There are only a few exceptions to this rule of handmade ceramic pottery being microwave-safe. A broken pot glued together with epoxy resin or gold repair are not microwave-safe because of the way the glue material reacts to the microwave radiation.
Any broken or partially cracked pot shouldn’t be used inside the microwave for fear of worsening their damage. You shouldn’t use them for baking or stove cooking either, while we’re at it. Aside from such caveats, most handmade pottery proves to be safe for microwave use.
You can’t use ceramic dishes and pottery for drinking and dining when they have holes or cracks in them.
What is Ceramic Pottery Used For?
Pottery is used for cooking in stoves, ovens, and microwaves. Stoves work best with metal frying pans and aluminum pots because of the way these containers transfer heat to food by the rules fo convection.
Pottery also has appeal when it comes to their rustic properties, making them must-haves for rustic parties. Even though handmade clay or ceramic pots are not as efficient in making soups and stews as your typical metal pot, they’re more than serviceable and at times give you bigger portions.
They also add a nice touch when it comes to your earthy entrees and green appetizers. It gives your party a more naturalistic or tribal flair to it.
Handmade Pottery vs. Bakeware Glass
Handmade pottery works as microwave-safe pots, especially well-made pots. As long as they’re undamaged and they can fit inside the microwave cavity they should resist the microwave radiation just fine while transmitting the heat energy to the food itself.
Instead of pottery, most homeowners use ceramic dishes as their eco-friendly way to heat up their leftovers inside the microwave versus plastic dishes that could leach off toxic BPA and other plasticizer chemicals.
In contrast, bakeware glass tends to be both oven-safe and microwave-safe as long as they remain the right thickness. As a rule of thumb, if the ovenware baking pan or container could take the heat of the oven it should also take the heat possible from the microwave.
The Dangers of Thermal Shock and How to Avoid It
A sudden shift in temperature could lead to certain ceramics and bakeware to crack like fragile eggs if the change is drastic enough. This is why even certain ceramics or stoneware aren’t considered microwave-safe if they retain heat energy from the microwave too much instead of work as insulators.
This coupled with certain pots and dishes being too thin can lead to breakage or hairline cracks. The most common occurrence of thermal shock happens when you place a hot glass or ceramic pot unto the cold water of the kitchen sink.
Or if you place a glass container in the freezer with water inside, leading the water to expand and break the glass. Avoid getting your container too hot inside the microwave and allow it to cool down before placing it in the sink for cleaning.
The Pros and Cons of Ceramics and Handmade Pots
Ceramics across the board offer better durability than glass but they do break upon collision or accidental drops. Extra stress from uneven heating (typical of microwaves) can also cause them to crack whether they’re professionally made or handmade pots and bowls.
The Ming Dynasty vases that still exist today prove how durable ceramics can be but you also know those centuries-old pots have lasted this long also because of the carefulness of the owner. Whether they’re 10 years old or 100 years old, pots will break when you drop them.
Most pottery offer microwave-safeness but certain pots might display unsafeness when microwaved. You need to determine whether or not they’re microwave-safe by yourself.
Checking How Microwave-Safe a Handmade Pot Is
Handmade pottery will likely not have a microwave-safe label on it (especially if you made it) or even a “don’t use with a microwave” label either (since most ceramics are viewed as microwave-safe by default). It’s the symbol with the squiggly lines.
- Make sure your pottery won’t damage your food or crack under pressure by doing the following test. Place a cup or mug of hot water beside or inside the pot you wish to use. Microwave the whole thing to boiling.
- Some tests require you to use ice water or cold water to test the heating abilities of your microwave to the fullest. Afterwards, get a feel on the temperature of your pot by holding it or using a food thermometer on it.
- If it’s stone-cold and the cup has boiling water in it then it’s completely microwave-safe. If it’s slightly warm and the cup has boiling water in it then it’s partially microwave-safe. If it’s as hot as the boiling cup of water it’s microwave-unsafe.
Ceramics—or hardened mixtures of clay turned into pottery, dishes, and more—aren’t as fragile as glass. However, they often break upon collision or accidental drops. Plastics are more resistant to breakage from drops but they’re not as microwave-safe as ceramics.
Ceramic pottery and chinaware are so microwave-safe that instead of needing microwave-safe labeling on them most manufacturers put in labels in case they can’t be used with the microwave. The only exceptions to the microwave-safe rule are cheap or extra-thin ceramics with poor insulation.
- “Is Pottery Microwave Safe“, PotteryCrafters.com, November 5, 2021