Table of Contents
- Will plastic melt in frying oil?
- 7 Reasons why plastic melt in frying oil
- What precautions should you take?
Will plastic melt in frying oil?
People often ask ”Will plastic melt in frying oil?” There is a common misconception that plastic will melt when placed in a vat of hot oil.
But what if the plastic isn’t exposed to direct heat? According to the experts, an average quality plastic doesn’t melt until it reaches about 250 degrees Celsius. It means that plastic may or may not melt depending upon the temperature of the oil.
If you want to know more about this topic, read on!
7 Reasons why plastic melt in frying oil
Plastic usually doesn’t melt in frying oil, but this doesn’t mean It cannot melt. A couple of factors determine whether plastic will melt when brought in contact with frying oil. Here they are:
1. The type of plastic
Different types of plastics have other melting points. So, the type of plastic used in the packaging material influences whether it will melt or not when placed in frying oil. If you wonder if the plastic wrap your lunch meat came in will melt in frying oil, check out its plastic code number.
Usually, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is not expected to melt unless they exceed their respective maximum temperature limits.
2. The shape of the plastic
Different shapes of plastics usually have other melting points. A sheet of LDPE, for example, will usually melt at lower temperatures than a plastic bottle of the same material.
So, if you are wondering whether plastic will melt in frying oil, check its shape to have an accurate answer.
3. The temperature of the frying oil
The frying oil temperature is an essential factor that influences whether or not your food will be contaminated with melted plastic.
Another thing you should keep in mind is the temperature of the oil during deep frying. If your plastic-packaged food falls into hot oil when it’s still cold (just immersed), then it will not melt. On the other hand, if the food is already warm, it will melt.
4. How long you fry your food
How long you fry your food also determines whether or not the plastic in the packaging will melt. If you want to avoid contamination by plastic, then don’t leave it in the oil frying for too long.
Thus, the longer it stays in there, the more likely it is to melt and contaminate your food with melted plastic toxins.
5. Whether the plastic is pre-exposed to heat
Different types of plastics have other melting points. Some are more likely to melt even when exposed only to moderate heat.
So, if your plastic wrap has already been exposed to some amount of heat before you placed it in oil frying, then it’s more likely to melt during cooking.
6. Multiple exposure to heat
Whether the plastic melt in frying oil depends on the number of times it is exposed to overheated oil. And this is very obvious. If you fry the same food wrapped in the same plastic several times, then it’s more likely to melt.
What precautions should you take?
There are several precautionary measures you need to take.
Check the recycling mode
You should first check whether the food plastic packaging material has the number 1, 2, 4, or 5 recycling code.
If it contains recycled low-density polyethylene or recycled high-density polyethylene materials, you are more likely to contaminate your food with plastic toxins.
It would be best to take extra caution with these types of plastics.
Check the temperature
In general, some plastics start melting at temperatures close to 100 degrees Celsius, while others don’t dissolve until they reach about 250 degrees Celsius.
So, if your plastic wrap is in contact with the hot oil (the temperature has reached more than 100 degrees Celsius) and it’s the type that starts melting at this temperature or lower, then some of it will melt.
And if you leave your food in the oil for more than a few minutes, then some parts of the plastic wrap will also start to melt and contaminate your food.
Don’t dip plastic spoons in oil
If you use plastic utensils to eat your food, then don’t use the same utensils to take it out of the oil.
Plastic materials will start melting if they stay in hot oil for too long. So, please pick them up with metal tongs or other implements instead of leaving them inside the frying pan, so they don’t melt.
Note that you can also use the same plastic spoon to transfer your food from frying oil into containers, bowls, or plates. Just be careful not to leave it in contact with the hot oil.
Stir the food
Some other precautions should be taken to avoid plastic contamination while frying food.
For example, grease the pan with oils that can tolerate high temperatures, don’t leave your food for too long if you wrap it in plastics that are starting to melt at relatively low temperatures, and use different utensils for cooking your meals.
Use quality plastic/ other material
This is both a precautionary measure and a solution to the problem. Either use a good quality plastic spoon for cooking or do not use it at all. Pick some other material spoon to stir the food while frying.
Don’t overheat the oil
To avoid contamination by plastic toxins, don’t heat the oil to more than 100 degrees Celsius because some plastics start melting at this temperature or lower.
Keep the flame low-medium once the oil is hot enough to fry the food.
In a nutshell, plastic will melt in frying oil if the oil is overheated. This is because plastic has a lower melting point than the temperature at which oil starts smoking or breaks down in molecular structure.
Once this happens, it releases toxic particles that might remain in the food and cause cancer.
So, if someone asks you, is there any guarantee that plastic will not melt? The answer is no! But you can still take some precautions to avoid getting your delicious meal contaminated by plastic toxins.