Whether you’re an avid outdoor cook or just a casual home cook, chances are you’ve used Styrofoam at some point. It’s the go-to material for packing food and drinks for picnics, camping trips, road trips, and more. However, apart from its ubiquitous use in food packaging and industrial applications such as insulation and furniture manufacturing, does anyone know what’s really lurking inside this seemingly innocuous white substance? we discuss things you need to know about Styrofoam before you put it in the oven – yes, the oven! To help answer that question let’s take a look at what is inside a typical piece of styrofoam – and why that matters if you want to use it in your kitchen.
Can Styrofoam Go In The Oven?
No, styrofoam should never be used in the oven. Styrofoam is made from polystyrene foam and when heated over 212°F (100°C), this type of plastic begins to melt and release dangerous chemicals into the air. These toxic fumes can be harmful to your health if inhaled and many of them are known carcinogens that have been linked to serious illnesses such as cancer. In addition, these toxins can contaminate food if it comes in contact with melted foam, making it unsafe for consumption.
Why Is Styrofoam Bad For The Environment?
One of the primary reasons why styrofoam is bad for the environment is that it does not biodegrade. This means that any styrofoam that is discarded into the environment will remain there for a very long time, potentially hundreds of years. This can lead to the accumulation of large amounts of Styrofoam in landfills and oceans, further polluting our environment and killing marine life.
2. Toxic Chemicals
Styrofoam is made from polystyrene foam, which contains a variety of chemicals including styrene and benzene. Both of these chemicals are known to be toxic to humans, animals, and the environment when released into air or water sources.
Finally, Styrofoam is not recyclable in most areas due to its complex chemical makeup and low density. This means that most Styrofoam must be thrown away in a landfill, where it will remain for many years until it finally breaks down into tiny pieces of microplastic
4. Contributes to Global Warming
The production of Styrofoam is incredibly energy intensive, as it requires the use of petroleum and other non-renewable resources. This production process also releases harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, which can contribute to global warming.
5. Negative Impact on Marine Life
Styrofoam is a common source of marine debris, which can have a devastating impact on marine life. Animals can ingest it, causing them to choke or starve due to blockage in their digestive system. (https://nuttyscientists.com)
How To Remove Styrofoam From Oven?
Before you start tossing out your Styrofoam packaging, make sure you know exactly how much you have. While there are ways to measure out certain components in food, it’s important to note that Styrofoam is not one of them. It is nearly impossible to measure Styrofoam in a cup or bowl, therefore you must find an alternative way to measure out the amount of the product you have. Some alternatives include using dry ingredients when possible, using a reusable measuring spoon, or using an accurate digital scale.
There are a few different ways you can scrape out all of your Styrofoam packagings. The easiest way is to use a small, sharp object to scrape out any remaining Styrofoam off of the cup and bowl you’re using. While you’re scraping out the container, be sure to clean the inside of the container as well. If the cup or bowl is already clean, you can use an abrasive sponge or scrubber to remove any remaining bits of Styrofoam from the inside of the container. When you’re finished, make sure to clean the container with a non-abrasive cleaner to prevent any residue from building up inside the container.
If you have a large enough vacuum, you can use it to suck out any remaining bits of Styrofoam from your containers and bowls. If you don’t have a vacuum that’s capable of sucking out bits of Styrofoam, you can use a broom to sweep out any remaining bits of foam. Before using either of the above methods, be sure to clean all of your containers and bowls with a non-abrasive cleanser so that any residue that’s left behind won’t cause any type of build-up inside of your containers. When using either of the above methods, be sure to empty all of your containers first to ensure there aren’t any small pieces of Styrofoam hiding inside of your vacuum or broom.
You can freeze any leftover bits of Styrofoam inside of your containers to help reduce the amount of foam you have left. Simply place a few pieces of the Styrofoam inside of each container, seal it up, and then put it inside of your freezer. If you’re not able to put the containers inside of your freezer, you can instead place the containers inside of a cooler with ice cubes. The key here is to ensure that the bits of Styrofoam are completely covered by other ice or frozen parts of the container. If there are any gaps in between the Styrofoam and the ice cubes, they will melt when you remove them from the freezer. This is especially important if the cooler you’re putting the containers in is not inside of a freezer. If you’re not able to put the containers inside of your freezer, you can instead place the containers inside of a cooler with ice cubes. This will help slow down the melting of the ice cubes and prevent small bits of Styrofoam from falling into the container.
What’s In A Typical Piece Of Styrofoam?
the main component of Styrofoam is polystyrene, a synthetic plastic polymer. It’s made from petroleum byproducts and offers lightweight insulation that helps retain cold or hot temperatures.
This hydrocarbon compound is often used as an additive to make polystyrene more flexible, helping it maintain its shape and durability for longer periods of time.
This colorless, flammable liquid is also often used as an additive in Styrofoam to make it more durable and long-lasting.
This aromatic hydrocarbon compound can be found in some forms of Styrofoam, acting as an additive to help increase the plastic’s insulating properties.
5. Expanded Polymers:
These polymers are made by a process called ‘expansion,’ which causes tiny air bubbles to form in the Styrofoam and make it even more lightweight and capable of sustaining higher temperatures or coldness for extended periods of time.
6. Starch-based Binders:
These binders are often made of corn, potato, or tapioca starch and used in certain types of Styrofoam as an adhesive to help hold the material together.
7. Flame Retardants:
Certain types of Styrofoam contain flame retardant chemicals such as brominated compounds, halogenated compounds, and antimony compounds to help reduce the risk of fire.
Tips For Using Safe Styrofoam In The Oven
- Preheat the oven to a temperature that is lower than the melting point of Styrofoam. This will ensure that the material does not melt and become hazardous or cause a fire in the oven.
- Place the Styrofoam on baking sheets lined with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or wax paper. This will help keep any small pieces of the material from burning or sticking to the oven floor.
- Cover the Styrofoam with a heat-resistant glass plate or lid before putting it in the oven. This will help keep any small pieces that may become airborne during baking contained, and provide an extra layer of insulation between your food and the material.
- Avoid using Styrofoam in a toaster oven or any other type of small, enclosed appliance. The increased air pressure and heat can cause the material to melt more quickly, and potentially create dangerous fumes.
- Check the oven regularly for signs of melting or burning. If you notice any changes in the appearance of the Styrofoam or smell a noxious odor, remove the material from the oven immediately.
Now that you know what is inside a typical piece of Styrofoam, let’s talk about how to use it safely in the oven. First, ensure the material is oven-safe. This means it possesses features that protect it from damage while in the oven, such as thick walls that protect the product from extreme heat or a thick base that prevents it from tipping. Next, make sure the product has a tight-fitting lid.