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The Timing Rule To Follow If You're Putting Paper Towels In The Microwave

Microwave and paper towel
Microwave and paper towel - Stely Nikolova/Shutterstock

Sometimes to avoid having to clean a dish, you'll opt to warm or reheat food in the microwave on top of paper towels. If you don't own a microwave food cover, you may also cover your food with paper towels as an alternative when heating your food in the microwave. You can also use paper towels for useful microwave cooking hacks, such as the paper towel trick you need when microwaving hot dogs. While using paper towels in the microwave offers all kinds of conveniences, heating paper towels in a microwave actually comes with the risk of the paper towel catching on fire if it's left heating for too long. To avoid this dangerous possibility, you should only leave paper towels heating in the microwave for two minutes at a time.

Per Whirlpool, one of the most prominent manufacturers of microwaves, most paper towels are safe to use in the microwave, but short heating times will allow you to check your food and paper towels more regularly to make sure that they aren't overheating. And there are certain scientific reasons why you'll lessen the chances of a fire breaking out in your microwave by only leaving paper towels in the microwave for two minutes.

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Why Your Paper Towel May Catch Fire If You Microwave It For Longer Than Two Minutes

Paper towel
Paper towel - Andrey Nikitin/Getty Images

Paper will ignite around 480 F. When you cook food in the microwave with paper towels, your microwave can actually evaporate all of the paper towel's moisture and heat the paper towels past 480 degrees Fahrenheit. This can result in the paper towel catching on fire while it's cooking in your microwave.

If the paper towels connect with flammable matter while you cook food with them in the microwave at a dangerously high temperature, the paper towel may also catch fire (which is why you should know the things you should never put in the microwave). For these reasons, it is very important to microwave your paper towels for only two minutes at a time, which will allow you to monitor the amount of heat being generated by your microwave more frequently. Although microwaving your paper towels in two-minute intervals is always best, that isn't the only practice you should follow.

Follow These Guidelines When Using Paper Towels In The Microwave

Burnt crumpled paper towel
Burnt crumpled paper towel - Microwave Geek / YouTube

While your paper towels are in the microwave for those 120 seconds, do not walk away and come back when the microwave starts beeping. Stay nearby and keep an eye on the paper towels as your microwave heats your food. To help avoid overheating those paper towels with more efficient use in the microwave, try the microwave tip to cook food evenly. You should always scan your paper towels to see if there are any metallic markings or drawings. If you microwave paper towels with these kinds of metallic elements, your paper towel may ignite while cooking.

Don't ever overlap your paper towels either. If you overlap a bunch of paper towels in the microwave, you may form a hotspot that can burn easily. Always lay your paper towel flat in the microwave, regardless if it's over or under your plate of food. For the safest use, avoid folding or crumpling your paper towel in the microwave, which can also cause your paper towel to scorch or burn. And always heat paper towels in the microwave for just two minutes at a time.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.