Using a microwave to reheat your Arby’s is a fast convenient way to get your dinner, lunch, or snack warm or hot enough to eat. The microwave is also versatile enough to heat and even cook a variety of meals without the hassle involved in other methods of getting the same done.
Arby’s is certainly a fan favorite for fast food and with microwaving being so convenient a medium, the temptation is to simply put your Arby’s in the microwave, still wrapped, and heat it up.
Can you microwave Arby’s wrappers?
The simple answer is no. While microwaving Arby’s directly from the fridge or your shopping bags while it is still wrapped in fast food paper is commonplace, it is unsafe. There are two reasons for this:
- How the microwave works
- The material of the wrapping paper
How the microwave works
Microwaves heat food by electromagnetic radiation. Simply put, food particles, or rather the molecules are vibrated rapidly and for a specific amount of time creating friction between them which generates heat. If anything is heated inside a microwave long enough, it will combust.
Some items such as styrofoam and single-use plastics do not need long to combust they simply begin to melt and eventually burn down to nothing if left in the microwave for a number of minutes.
A microwave in use is air and watertight so nothing can get in or out. This is one of the reasons microwaves are so energy efficient. The heat produced within the chamber is almost completely utilized in the job at hand and no heat is wasted.
But a sealed chamber also means excess heat has nowhere to go and neither can evaporating water escape. This means that if you accidentally calibrate the microwave the wrong way and leave food in longer than is advised, you will end up with an explosion.
The material of the wrapping paper
Arby’s uses food-safe wrapping paper developed for food handling and consumer safety. The wrapping paper may come in different composite concentrations of paper and other materials but they all have some characteristics in common;
- They are non-absorbent. The paper does not absorb wetness such as water readily and does not absorb grease at all.
- The paper is coated in a wax-like substance to give it some of the properties of foil paper.
The qualities of Arby’s wrappers above mean that the wrapper keeps the food absolutely safe from contaminants that may get into contact with your food by adhering to and being absorbed by the wrappers.
The wrappers also help maintain the integrity of the food since they do not interfere with the consistency and moisture content of your food. You can only imagine what your Arby’s Reuben would look like if all its moisture and grease content ended up being absorbed by the paper it came in.
It would not be a sandwich you can consume if all its ingredients suddenly lost all moisture content.
When you place your Arby’s dinner still wrapped in the microwave, the grease in the food will heat up but it cannot be absorbed by anything and beyond its boiling point, it will catch fire and ignite the wrapping paper.
While Arby’s wrapping paper is fairly flame-resistant owing to the foil paper qualities infused in it, it is not flameproof. Hot grease has been known to ignite the wrappers and cause an explosion.
There is also the added concern regarding PFCs or perfluorocarbons. These are chemical compounds commonly found in grease-resistant items such as the wrapping paper used in fast-food restaurants.
In industrial use, perfluorocarbons are commonplace in making materials and coatings for surfaces to make them grease, stain, and moisture resistant as opposed to bare surfaces that absorb and adhere to staining, moisture, and grease.
While they are largely stable compounds, heat destabilizes the chemical composition of PFCs which means they could break free of the wrapping paper and wind up leeching into your food.
Many of them are carcinogenic when consumed in large enough quantities. The exact effects and quantities needed to cause health problems or the exact health problems they cause are not completely established but they are not safe for consumption and should remain out of food completely.
It is important to mention that PFCs do not come into contact with food at any point simply because they are used in the making of wrapping paper. There is a school of thought that the use of plastics and wrapping papers causes cancers which is simply not true.
PFCs are contained in plastics and a good number of these plastics are indicated as safe for microwave use. PFCs can only get consumed if they leech into food. They are stable compounds which means leeching can only happen with prolonged exposure to high heat.
To avoid any possibility of consuming these harmful chemicals simply discard Arby’s wrappers in the event that you would like to heat up a burger. Even better, store your Arby’s meals in air-tight containers in the fridge and heat them up in microwave-safe containers.
You may find that microwaving your Arby’s burger always results in soggy buns. The reason for this is that the water molecules in your beef or chicken patty have no place to go during the heating process so the bun absorbs that moisture.
Instead, use the microwave to heat up your beef or chicken patty only. Leave the vegetables since they taste even better cold and crunchy.
On the stovetop, place your buns on a pan and let them heat up on a low flame on either side with some butter to prevent them from sticking to the pan. Once done, reassemble your burger and enjoy.
This way, your burger will taste much better with all the flavors and textures maintained.
The microwave is the quick and dirty way to get your Arby’s ready but with a bit of patience, reheating the buns separately from the meat will yield a better lunch.