The idea for this blog came from my dad, who was talking about a common fire hazard that people were unaware of. The hazard is WHAT? Aluminum foil? I thought the stuff was fireproof. As it turns out, there’s a few other things about aluminum foil that I was unaware of. Here’s 5 things you may not have known about a product that we use all the time.
1. OK, the first one is a given. NEVER put aluminum foil in the microwave. If you didn’t know this already, maybe you should stay out of the kitchen. We have to start with this one though, because the National Fire Protection Association estimates that an average of 7200 fires in the home per year are started with the microwave oven.
2. The second one will catch some people. NEVER line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil. The foil can trap heat, start a fire or damage your oven. Many manufacturers will void your warranty if you line the oven with foil. The reason many people have lined the oven with aluminum foil is, of course, convenience in cleaning. This little tidbit was handed down from parents, grandparents and their parents before them. A few generations ago, people were using tin foil (yes, there is a difference). Tin foil was, of course, made from tin and the term stuck although we have been using aluminum foil since right after World War II. Aluminum has a lower heat tolerance than tin and should never be used close to your heating element. According to Reynolds Wrap, it is safe to place a sheet of aluminum foil on the shelf below the one you are baking on as long as the sheet is only slightly larger than your cooking dish.
3. What side of the foil is supposed to face out? Shiny or dull? That’s an easy one I thought…but I was wrong. Truth is, it doesn’t matter. The difference comes only from the manufacturing process and has no bearing on cooking. If you are using a non-stick foil product though, the dull side faces the food as that is the side that has been treated with a non-stick coating.
4. Is it safe to wrap left overs in aluminum foil? Yes, as long as the food is not high in salt or acidic value. Aluminum foil is generally a safe way to wrap leftovers and keep smells out of the fridge. Just don’t warm them up in the microwave with the foil still on! Adding a layer of foil over plastic-wrapped foods that you are freezing is a good idea as it will help keep out oxygen, which causes freezer burn.
5. What if the foil-wrapped foods you bake have dark spots from the foil? I actually threw out a ham one time because I was afraid to eat it. As it turns out, it is normal to get these spots on the food if the foil comes in contact with foods high in salt, vinegar or acid. Just remove the spots and food is safe.
So there you have it. A good safety tip from your insurance professional, a history lesson and food storage tips all rolled into one. And we thought it was just tin foil.