Can you boil plastic? (3 Helpful Points)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you boil plastic? We will discuss if you should boil plastic and some risks associated with carrying out such a practice. We will highlight some ways to use plastic in the safest way possible. 

Can you boil plastic?

You cannot boil plastic because it can make it unsafe. No kind of plastic is safe enough to be boiled. Boiling, heating, and even scratching can make plastic unsafe. 

You cannot boil food in plastic either. A high temperature that exceeds even 149 Fahrenheits would make the plastic melt. 

Exposing plastic to heat causes BPA compounds to leach out. Do not use plastic that you suspect contains BPA. BPA is related to many types of cancer that can be caused by prolonged exposure. 

If you expose plastic to the boiling temperature of the water, it will release BPA 55 times faster than it would otherwise. 

Never heat a plastic bag or container that has Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or polycarbonate plastic as a constituent. Bisphenol is a carcinogenic compound and has estrogen-mimicking properties. 

Polyethylene bags will start to melt at a lower temperature than boiling water that is 90 Celsius. 

Polypropylene is a safe bet for food and beverage storage and can withstand high temperatures. You can expose polypropylene plastic to warmth but it is never a good idea to boil plastic. 

Polypropylene is considered to be the safest plastic of all. Propylene is heat resistant and does not leach chemicals as easily as other plastics. 

Plastics made for food are called thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are made by polymerizing a particular monomer, with aid from a catalyst that changes them to a high molecular weight chain.

The manufactured polymer is then mixed with the additives such as antioxidants, plasticizers, and clarifiers to form a resin.

Will plastic melt if you boil it?

Plastic does not melt readily, it has a higher melting point than water. Even though a plastic called polylactic acid starts to melt at around as low as 70 Celsius. 

However, it is not a good idea to boil plastic. Even if plastic does not melt it can become unsafe for you and your family. 

When the temperature of Polyethylene exceeds 149 Fahrenheit, the substance starts to break down. As plastic softens, it releases its residues which can easily make their way into your food.

Most types of plastic will not melt in boiling water because it is not a high enough temperature to break the structure of plastic 

polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride are tough variants of plastic that are comparatively heat resistant. 

Why is plastic unsafe?

There are a number of factors that go into determining the harm or safety of heating plastic containers or bags. Different types of plastics are at varying levels of harm, depending on the kind of plastic used, the plasticizer added, the temperature and duration at which the container was heated.

Moreover, the food that is heated also has a role to play when plastic is heated. Fatty foods are more vulnerable to taking up chemicals from their package. 

Plastics are made of materials that are not inert. When a substance is not inert, it can leach its chemicals and transfer them to another substance and contaminate it. 

Phthalates, acetyl tributyl citrate, and dioctyl adipate are known to be plasticizers. The plasticizers are added to plastics to give them a defined shape, keep them flexible and less brittle. If you boil or apply heat to plastics, these chemicals can leach out. 

If you want to boil food, it is best to use heat-resistant glass, ceramics, and stainless steel. It is best to follow instructions given by the food and drug administration authority and refrain from using packages other than their intended purpose. 

Phthalates are environmental contaminants that act as hormone disruptors in the human body. The phthalates exhibit hormone-like behavior and disrupt the endocrine system of the body. 

Subjecting to these chemicals can have adverse health outcomes, especially in young children. The chemical can interfere with the development of growth of children who are vulnerable to this chemical. 

Even if plastic is BPA-free, it can have estrogenic activity. Estrogen activity receptors can cause early puberty in females, reduced sperm count, and obesity. 

Estrogen activity is also known to cause altered sex-specific activity and reproductive function. Not to mention, the cause of most types of cancers including breast, ovarian, testicular, and prostate cancer lies in the use and abuse of the estrogen activity receptors. 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you boil plastic? We discussed if you should boil plastic and some risks associated with carrying out such a practice. We highlighted some ways to use plastic in the safest way possible. 

Citations

https://antonscafebar.com/boil/can-you-boil-plastic.html
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19726415-400-plastic-bottles-pose-health-risk-if-boiled/
https://publichealth.jhu.edu/2004/halden-plastics
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222987/

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.