Can You Put Paper Towel in the Oven? (And Safer Alternatives)

paper-towel-rolls-kitchen
Source: Canva

Often when we cook, we ask ourselves “Can paper towels go in the oven?” Preparing some foods tend to require the use of paper towels. However, not all cooking facilities can accommodate paper towels as they may become hazardous rather than helpful (this is because paper towels have a property that makes them combust at certain temperatures).

Considering temperature, for instance, the ignition temperature of paper is about 451 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average temperature range of an oven begins from 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (with a 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit range for hot ovens).

The answer is No. It is not safe to put paper towels in a hot oven. Paper burns very easily and can result in a fire when exposed to the heat generated by the oven.

This makes them probable for use with regular ovens that operate on controlled low temperatures  (as long as you can regulate and keep the oven temperature low enough). They should however not be used when dealing with hot ovens.

Can Paper Towels Catch Fire in the Oven?

Yet another question we may ask ourselves while we cook is “Can paper towels catch fire in the oven?” Now Regardless of how paper towels should theoretically resist the heat range of regular ovens, certain factors that cannot be catered for; such as dry air, or even the heating properties of the food being prepared, makes them a risky option for use with ovens.

So the answer is Yes. Paper towels can catch fire in the oven and should not be used.

These factors can cause them to easily combust and burn, which not only messes up the food being prepared but can also constitute a fire hazard. And so you are very much advice not to do so.

What is Needed to Put Paper Towels in the Oven?

We may also ask at instance where we just have to “What is needed to put paper towels in the oven?”

One way is to lower the overs heat and make the paper towels damp before they go into the oven. Paper towels are absorbent, disposable towels made from paper. They are popularly used in homes as Kitchen rolls, kitchen paper, or kitchen towels.

The absorbent and easily disposable features of paper towels make them perfect options for cleaning up kitchenware and facilities as well as preparing a wide range of recipes.

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They are used to either soak up excess grease from foods, to create a layer between the food and the pan for baking, to control the splashing of liquids in foods that react during heating, or to help control moisture content in foods being prepared, and are preferred for their affordability and convenience in use.

Can Paper Towels Go to Microwave?

If you ask “Can paper towels go into Micro-waves?”, you must know that Paper towels are basically considered microwave safe. Although instances have occurred when they were left in for too long and got hot enough to combust and burn.

A way to reduce this probability would be to use damp paper towels or sprinkle a few teaspoons of water over the paper towel to dampen them. Note though, that some paper towels are made with inflammable chemicals thus increasing their combustible potential. Hence, it is advised that you check the manufacture specifications before use.

Can You Dispose of Paper Towels Down the Flush?

In the bid to dispose of used paper towels or in an instance of absence of toilet paper, we use paper towels in its stead and think to flush it away. And at times we fail to ask  “Can you dispose of paper towels down the flush?”

Unlike toilet paper, paper towels do not dissolve quickly in water (in fact, they take about two weeks to a month to fully decompose as from the time of disposal) and should thence not be disposed of down the flush, else they could clog up your toilet or harm your sewage pipes.

And if they accumulate over time along with similar substances flushed down the pipes, they can cause blockages and lead to sewage backing up or even distort your whole sewage system. 

Can Paper Towels be Recycled?

After use, disposing used paper towels is the next cause of action, and so we may think to ask “Can Paper towels be recycled?”

The answer is no you can not recycle them. Because of the make-up of paper towels, they cannot be recycled like other paper products. They are already made from recycled paper products, and the more you recycle them, their fibers tend to get shorter. There’s also the concern of the increased acquiring of bacteria with every recycles.

Paper fibers can basically be recycled a couple of times before they become too short to be recycled again, and paper towels are considered the last stop in the recycling chain. Moreover, to be eligible for recycling paper fibers have to be free of pollutants (which is hardly the case for used paper towels; which mostly were used for cleaning or cooking) else they would contaminate the clean paper in the recycling bins.

How to Compost Paper Towels?

Composting is a process that neutralizes germs and coverts all the short fibers, wastes and messy spillages into readily available and highly effective mulch for gardens.

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Paper is made up of a lot of carbon making them perfect content for your compost pile. Used paper towels can help maintain the carbon balance in your compost as well as ventilate the pile (the woolly nature of paper towels enables pockets of air to form within the composting mound which supports the growth of microorganisms that aid the decomposition process).

This compost making process also helps in the reduction of the overall greenhouse gases such as methane emitted from incineration and rather produces mostly carbon dioxide, which are much more beneficial for plant life.

Are There Safer Alternatives to Paper Towels?

Although as earlier explained, paper towels may survive an average oven and do have valuable properties, yet for the risks involved it is still much recommended that an alternative be sought for if to be used in ovens. Examples of such are parchment paper, aluminum foil, microfibers, or even simply stick to using just ceramic plates as the safest option.

Some general alternatives to paper towels include:

Cotton Napkins

Not are cloth napkins better than paper, they have less impact on the ecosystem. Unlike paper napkins that must be disposed of after use (leading to a lot of waste), cotton napkins are sustainable cloth napkins that have multiple uses.

Beeswax Wraps

These are wax-infused cloths which are reusable and moldable, making them suitable for wrapping all sorts of shapes and types of foods. They can be considered hygienic enough although because they should not be washed vigorously or with hot water, they stand at risk of being contaminated easily.

Dishcloths

dishcloths are generally used in the kitchen to dry dishes after washing and clean surfaces. They are mostly made of cotton or microfiber and can measure up to eleven to thirteen inches square. These cloth towels are made with materials that can be washed and used again and again (much unlike disposable paper towels that have limited use).

Linen Napkins

Although much like cotton napkins in terms of their reusability, Linen napkins have a much stronger fabric than cotton and can thus withstand the abrasive actions of rubbing while cleaning.

Linen napkins are also more absorbent than cotton, hence improving their drying performance with use. Linen napkins are lint-free in makeup hence they do not leave annoying bits of threads behind making them quite ideal for drying glassware.

Zip Lock Bags

these are a type of sandwich bags made with a recycling product known as a “film”. Films are clear, thin plastics made from low-density polyethylene. The term “Ziplock bag” refers to any self-sealing bag that is used to store food or other items. Other common names for this product include sandwich bags, snack bags, resealable plastic bags and food storage bags.

Other Possible Tricks With Paper Towels

Saving the Veggies

A lot of vegetables tend to wilt and rot, even when kept in refrigerators. One way to preserve your cabbages, lettuce, kale and other green herbs is to add a moist paper towel to the bag they’re kept in, or to even wrap the whole vegetal bunch up with them. These paper towels retain moisture and maintain a humidity level suitable enough to keep the greens from getting damp and starting to rot.

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Happy ‘Loaf-ers’

When slices or even whole loafs of bread are left for a long while, even in freezers, they start to grow molds or become a mushy mess. A simple trick would be to drop a paper towel into the bag (or wrap the whole thing if possible, for better effect) before freezing. This draws out the moisture from the bread and keeps it fresh enough for longer periods.

Less Grease please

This is basically the purpose for which paper towels are made. Their absorbent feature makes them perfect tools for cleaning up grease and oily spills from hands, kitchen tools, cooking surfaces, tables, counter-tops, and so on.

They can be used as alternatives to napkins to dry up washed dishes, for a quick clean up after the kids, or even as neck tucks to prevent oily spills on your shirts or tops during meals.

Seed Stethoscopes

Do you know you can use paper towels to check the viability of seeds? It’s an old farmers trick used to figure out whether certain seeds are viable, as it saves the time and energy of having to set up a nursery garden.

The process is simple, just sandwich a bunch of seeds between two damp paper towels place them in a warm place for about two weeks. If the seeds don’t sprout by then, then they are probably not viable.

Don’t scratch pans

Considering how expensive cast iron pans are, cleaning them requires a lot of special care if their coating is to be preserved. Using bristly sponges can easily scratch of their veneer and quickly deface them.

Hence you can simply clean them after use with paper towels; to wipe off oil and food particles. And when not in use, you can keep them between layers of paper towels to preserve them from rust. In cases where you will have to wash them, after drying you can still clean them with paper towels dipped in oil to preserve the surface varnish.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Paper towels are very vital tools in the kitchen and come in handy to make quick work of some kitchen activities, such as; cleaning, serving and much more.

There are however so many more ways paper towels can be used within and around the kitchen and dining areas, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Paper towels can go in low heat ovens and microwaves and should not be flushed down the toilet, but instead disposed of properly in waste bins after use.

References:

https://www.networx.com/article/10-uses-for-paper-towels

https://stanfordmag.org/contents/taking-paper-towels-to-the-compost-pile-essential-answer

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/can-you-recycle-paper-towels-12000110.html

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/12-sustainable-alternatives-to-paper-towels-your-kitchen-needs

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things on her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.