The following guide outlines whether saran wrap can be used in the oven, under what conditions and where it is used.
Can you use saran wrap in the oven?
Yes, you can use saran wrap in the oven as long as it is mentioned as ‘oven-safe’ and only under the following conditions:
- The temperature should be at a low level
- You must cover the saran wrap in aluminium foil
- You must use commercial grade plastic wrap – the type used in restaurants and not household varieties
Where is saran wrap in the oven used?
Saran wrap is a thin plastic film that is used to store food and lock in the air and moisture as it seals very well.
Food grade saran wrap is used often by chefs but most of the time it doesn’t actually touch the food. It is used as a sealant for baked dishes and should ideally be covered by a layer of foil.
It is used most commonly to wrap meat before being cooked in the oven to seal in the moisture and flavour which results in tender, juicy meat.
Is it safe?
If used in the aforementioned conditions, the saran wrap should technically be safe to use and won’t melt. However, this doesn’t mean that the toxins can’t bleed into the food before actually melting.
Precautions when using saran wrap in the oven:
Mentioned below are some things to look after when using saran wrap in the oven:
Most food-grade saran wraps melt between 220° and 250°, although it depends on the brand and manufacturer. Household varieties are usually much thinner and will melt much quicker so make sure to source the right kind.
Covering the saran wrap in aluminium foil ensures that extra level of protection and ensures that the plastic is not exposed to direct heat. The more the layers of foil, the better it is. The foil does not retain or absorb the heat hence cannot get hot enough to actually melt the plastic under it.
To be extra safe, you can cover it in a double layer of foil as this way it will not exceed a temperature of 212F and thus stays between the recommended temperature range. This is what most chefs do.
3. Type of saran wrap
As mentioned before it is important to use the commercial-grade wrap as they are made to withstand slightly higher temperatures and can be used as long as you are cautious and follow the necessary precautions if trying at home:
- Ensure at least an inch gap between the food and the wrap such that even if the saran wrap was to melt, it won’t leak into the food. It also minimises the potential leakage of toxins into the food.
- Turn a corner up to allow the steam to leave a little so that the plastic doesn’t overheat and melt because of it.
- Let the food cool before removing the wrap. This is not only to ensure that you don’t burn yourself but also to make sure the wrap doesn’t accidentally touch the food.
What can you use instead of saran wrap in the oven?
If you want to play it safe but still require the use of a plastic layer, you can use oven bags, which are specifically designed to withstand oven conditions as they are made of thicker, industrial plastic that are a lot more durable. They are easily available at grocery stores. However, the only downside is that they are one-use only.
Risks to consider when using saran wrap in the oven
Most brands recommend not to use saran wrap in the oven as organisations such as EHN ( Environmental Health News) have quoted it to be dangerous for both the body and the environment. This is because the toxins can leech into the food much before melting and also because you never know when it will actually start melting for you to stop the oven immediately.
It is also important to note that BPA-free wraps ( such as the commercial-grade food wraps used by chefs) have non-intentionally added substances such as a low dose of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These may not have far-reaching effects but is still important to keep in mind.
To go around this, it is safe to use the highest quality saran wrap and carry out all the safety precautions explained above.
It is in fact safe to use saran wrap in the oven but must be done under the utmost care and must be used with aluminium foil. You can do it at home as long as you are comfortable with it. Remember to be cautious and use high quality and oven-safe saran wrap.