Have you been wanting to experiment with sous-vide cooking methods, or maybe you are considering ways for re-hydrating food for a camping trip? There are many different recipes online that involve using Ziploc bags for cooking food, but is it safe to pour boiling water into one? We contacted S.C. Johnson to get the most reliable information on using their Ziploc bags for safe food handling practices.
You should not pour boiling water into a Ziploc bag. The high temperature can cause the material to break down and leech microscopic plastic particles into the food. While Ziploc bags are dioxin free, chlorine-free, and do not contain BPA, it's safer to avoid ingesting plastic particles on a regular basis.
There is a lot to know about this topic, so keep reading to find out more!
Using Ziploc Bags for Cooking
S.C. Johnson, the owner of the Ziploc brand, strongly discourages using their products for cooking. The plastic that these bags are made of starts to soften once it reaches 149°F (65°C). Water begins to boil at 212°F (100°C), well above the bag’s temperature threshold. Once polyethylene reaches temperatures this high, the chemical components start to break down, damaging the integrity of the product and possibly ending up in your food. Ziploc bags are dioxin free, chlorine-free, and do not contain BPA, meaning they meet all the requirements from the FDA for everyday use like food storage, but even if it’s not toxic, do you want to eat plastic particles?
All in all, Ziploc bags can’t hold up to the temperature required to handle contact with boiling water. These bags are best suited for food storage, not for cooking. If you’re still just dying to try that boil-in-bag recipe, look for a bag designed explicitly for sous-vide style cooking. These bags are designed to handle the high temperatures required to boil food without losing their integrity or leaving plastic bits in your food, so they are a much safer option. Amazon has a ton of options for sous-vide style bags, some are even made from re-usable silicone, which is way better for the environment than plastic bags, and they’re free of chemicals and plastics.
What Are Ziploc Bags Made of?
Ziploc bags are created by using a combination of different materials, including several types of plastics, inks, and dyes. The ingredients do vary from product to product, so their freezer type bags may have different components in comparison to their storage type bags.
The ingredients used to make Ziploc freezer bags are -
- Polyethylene-Low density (Plastic)
- Polyethylene-Linear low density (Plastic)
- HYDRO Flow Dow Fast Dry EH 70388 (Ink)
- HYDRO Flow Dow EH 70393 (Ink)
- Clariant PE33760091 (Dye)
- Clariant PE53760090 (Dye)
- ING9001PPACON Processing Aid (Plastic)
- Polymers Masterbatch 1111 (Plastic)
Is it Safe to Boil food in a Ziploc Bag?
Boiling food in a Ziploc bag is not a good idea. The high temperatures could damage the bag leaving you with a big mess to clean up, soggy food, or plastic particles in your food. Although Ziploc bags pass FDA guidelines, these are under intended circumstances like storage or freezing. The sous-vide bags might be a little more pricey, but a few extra dollars is worth the peace of mind, and the re-usable silicone bags can save you money in the long run by preventing the need to replace your one-use plastics continuously.
Can You Boil Eggs in a Ziploc Bag?
There are many people online who recommend recipes for “bag omelets,” and they do look fantastic. These are made by cracking your eggs into a bag along with your favorite omelet ingredients, mixing it up well, and dropping the bag into a pot of boiling water to cook. This recipe is top-rated among hikers and campers since it creates fewer dirty dishes and provides a quick and delicious meal. A lot of the recipes found online will tell you that a Ziploc bag is fine for this purpose; however, S.C. Johnson disagrees. If you are considering making bag omelets, or something similar, use a bag that is designed for this purpose.
Is it Safe to Cook in a Ziploc Bag?
Ziploc does make a ‘Zip n’ Steam’ bag that is safe for use in the microwave, but that doesn’t mean it can be boiled as some would have you believe.
There have been claims online that these bags are suitable for boiling since they are intended for microwaves, and microwaves get hot, right? Microwaves do get hot, however, microwaves heat food in a much different way than an open flame does. A microwave creates microwave energy, which then reacts with the hydrogen molecules in your food, causing them to heat. Since these two methods are so different, the ‘Zip n’ Steam’ style bag is not recommended for standard boiling processes either; it was engineered with the microwave in mind.
There are tons of posts online saying Ziploc bags are perfectly safe to cook in, but why would S.C. Johnson say otherwise? Take the time to purchase the proper equipment for the cooking method that you have in mind ad keep your health and safety front of mind.