Are Old Stoneware Pfaltzgraff Dishes Microwaveable?

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Be careful when using a microwave with stoneware.
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Pfaltzgraff has a long history as a premiere United States dinnerware manufacturer, dating back to the early 1800s. Pfaltzgraff stoneware and other dinnerware has been made for centuries, including bone china, porcelain, stoneware and earthenware. You may be wondering if these beautiful and durable pieces are microwave-safe.


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Understanding Microwaves and Care Instructions

Most ceramic, paper, glass or plastic containers are safe to use in microwave ovens. However, there are a few precautions you must take. Furthermore, it also helps to first understand how microwave ovens work, as this may help you determine which dishes can be placed inside them.

Microwave radiation is a range of wavelengths on the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, which consists of electric and magnetic waves moving together through space oscillating at various frequencies. Visible light is another kind of EM radiation, as are radio waves, X-rays and microwaves. Ionizing radiation is strong enough to knock electrons out of atoms, which can in turn change their atomic and molecular structures. This can cause harm to cells in organic matter and cause cancers or other issues. While X-rays are so energetic that they are indeed a form of ionizing radiation, visible light, radio waves and microwave radiation are all nonionizing forms of EM radiation.


Microwave radiation operates inside a microwave oven by exciting the water molecules in food. These excited water molecules vibrate rapidly and produce heat. This process is what heats the food you put in a microwave, especially in the case of food that is water-rich, such as vegetables. Water-rich foods heat more rapidly and more intensely, which may make containers too hot to handle.

Important Microwave Safety

Microwave radiation bounces off metals, which is what makes it possible for a microwave oven to contain the EM radiation inside the oven and bounce through the food instead of escaping outside.


However, microwave radiation can bounce off metals in cookware, such as in trims, detailing, enamels or handles and can cause sparking and unsafe reflection. Moreover, certain types of pottery that contain higher amounts of impurities can overheat in microwaves and become unsafe.

Pfaltzgraff Stoneware Care Instructions

Is Pfaltzgraff microwave-safe? The best course of action is to always check the care and safety instructions on your piece. This can usually be done by flipping over the piece and looking at the markings on its bottom, which will usually say whether it is dishwasher- and/or microwave-safe.


However, some older stoneware may not have these markings. After all, Pfaltzgraff has been around for hundreds of years, long before modern appliances. In these cases, you may need other criteria to determine if your Pfaltzgraff piece is microwave-safe.

First, the Pfaltzgraff website explicitly explains that most of its products are microwave-safe unless they have metal detailing or metal trim. Any dishware with metal components is not microwave-safe. Pfaltzgraff also recommends checking the product's packaging or website listing to look for its care instructions.


Pfaltzgraff Stoneware and Microwave Test

If you can't find any information, though, there is a test you can perform at home that can help you determine whether your old Pfaltzgraff pottery is microwave safe. First, turn up the power on your microwave to high. Next, find a container that you know for sure is microwave-safe that is roughly the size of a cup and fill it with room-temperature water.

Set the cup inside the microwave with the piece of pottery you're testing. Microwave them together on high for one minute and then carefully touch the pottery to see if it is hot. If the pottery is hot and the water is not, then the piece is not microwave-safe. (If the water was set on top of the piece, it may have transferred heat into the piece, so touch an edge far away from the water.)


Once you have determined whether a piece is microwave-safe, mark the bottom with masking tape or a permanent marker so you can be sure not to use it in the microwave in the future.