Foil is one of the most commonly used kitchen hacks out there. It makes cooking all sorts of dishes, including cakes, meats, casseroles, and more, easier and less cleaning-intensive. However, when using foil in kitchen appliances, it’s essential first to check whether it’s safe to use – and that includes your toaster.
Foil is safe to use in a toaster, as long as it’s a toaster oven and not a pop-up toaster. When using foil in your toaster oven, it’s essential to ensure that it doesn’t come into contact with the metal sides or the heating element. Additionally, the only aluminium foil should be used, not tinfoil.
The rest of this article will look at how to use aluminium foil safely in your toaster oven and why improperly used foil can be dangerous. We’ll also look at alternatives to using aluminium foil for lining your toaster oven.
How To Safely Use Foil in a Toaster Oven
Looking to make a deliciously gooey grilled cheese sandwich but aren’t relishing cleaning your toaster oven after you’re done? Foil can probably help – it helps protect the toaster properly from spills, and once your sandwich is ready, all you need to do is toss it in the trash – no deep cleaning required!
However, before you can use foil in your toaster, you first need to understand how to use it safely. Here are some safety precautions to keep in mind:
Read the Safety Manual
Each brand and model of toaster oven has different specifications for using foil in their appliance. While some may warn against using foil even with extreme caution, others may be able to guide you better on how to use it without any danger.
Additionally, some brands have a clause that allows them to void the warranty for your appliance if foil is used in the toaster. Make sure you’re fully aware of the details for your specific toaster oven before inserting any piece of foil into it.
Make Sure the Foil Doesn’t Touch the Heating Element
This is one of the biggest dangers when it comes to using foil in your toaster oven. Should the foil touch the heat source, there’s a good chance you’ll see sparks, or a fire will develop.
Even if there’s no major catastrophe, the foil may melt and stick to the heating oven or damage it in some other way. In such a situation, you’ll have to invest in a new toaster altogether – it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to get the damaged one repaired.
Don’t Use It To Cover the Crumb Tray
Crumb trays tend to be located close to the heating element, which means they’re naturally very hot. Covering the crumb tray with foil further raises the temperature, increasing the fire risk.
If your oven is marked as foil-safe, you may be able to use foil to cover your crumb tray. However, if you do so, ensure that there’s no accumulation of grease and other debris on top of it.
Don’t Let Foil Touch the Sides of the Toaster
The metal walls of a toaster oven can be nearly as hot as the heating element. This means that if foil touches the walls, the risk is the same as if it touches the heating element. There’s a chance of sparks or a fire breaking out, and it’s also better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to potential fire hazards.
Don’t Wrap Your Food in Foil Completely
Foil, as a rule, traps heat. If your food is wrapped tight within the foil, without any air gaps or holes, there’s a risk that your food will cook – and burn – quicker than expected.
At the same time, if you’re wrapping something in foil, make sure there are no loose ends, and the edges are wrapped tight. This will prevent food from leaking onto the heating element. Instead, poke a small hole on the top of the foil so hot air can escape without any worry of food leakage.
The Dangers of Improperly Used Foil
As I mentioned above, if you use foil improperly in your toaster oven, you risk creating a significant fire risk. There are several reasons for this, including:
Damage to the Heating Element
As mentioned above, if aluminium foil touches the toaster oven’s heating element, there’s a risk the foil melts and gets attached to it. If the heating element is damaged, the toaster oven will need to be replaced, which can be a significant investment.
Electrocution and Electrical Fires
Are you wondering why you should never use foil in a pop-up toaster?
Take a look inside your pop-up toaster – if you look carefully, you should be able to see the electric coils at the bottom. These coils heat up when you push down the lever, allowing the toaster to heat and toast your breads.
When the coils are live – that is, when the toaster is switched on – they can easily cause an electric shock in any person who touches it. Aluminium makes this worse.
Like many other metals, aluminium is a great electrical conductor. This means that if you were to touch aluminium foil while it’s in contact with live electric coils, you risk being electrocuted, which can be dangerous and even fatal.
The electrocution concern is exacerbated by the fact that the coils are packed into a tight space. This is because, given the lack of space, there’s a high risk of the foil coming into contact with the coils. Additionally, there’s limited manoeuvrability when you try to remove the toast from the pop-up toaster, increasing the chance of you touching the foil while it’s electrified.
Aside from the risk of electrocution, there’s also the risk of an electrical fire breaking out. While aluminium conducts electricity, it’s also highly flammable, which means there’s a chance of sparking and fires when the foil touches a live coil.
Aside from a conductor of electricity, aluminium is also a great conductor of heat. This means that, when improperly used, aluminium retains the heat that’s circulated within the toaster oven.
This retention raises the temperature within the toaster significantly, often higher than the toaster is designed to handle. Not only is this a fire risk, there’s also a chance it can damage your toaster and prevent it from working correctly.
Additionally, it heats the food in the toaster much faster than expected. There are two consequences of this:
- There’s a significant risk that your food will be burned, even if you leave it in the toaster for the length of time indicated by the recipe.
- You may not realize just how hot the foil has gotten and touch it with your bare hand, resulting in a burn to your hand.
Alternatives to Aluminium Foil
While aluminium foil can be great for reducing cleanup, it’s not the only option available. Some safer alternatives include:
Toaster bags are the perfect alternative to foil when using a pop-up toaster. These bags are heat-resistant and non-stick, allowing you to warm foods like grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza slices that you wouldn’t usually place in your pop-up toaster.
There are several options available on the market, but I recommend Yoocool’s Non Stick Toaster Bags from Amazon.com. You can reuse these bags up to 100 times – all you need to do is wash them with soapy water between uses. Additionally, they can be used on other appliances as well, such as ovens, grills, and microwaves.
Silicone Baking Mats
Silicone baking mats are made out of a combination of food-grade silicone and fiberglass and are most often used for baking. However, they can be used for a wide variety of dishes, especially due to their non-stick properties. Not only do they protect your toaster oven from a mess, cleaning these mats is extremely easy, as no food spills stick to them.
I recommend the Velesco Silicone Baking Mat from Amazon.com. These mats are specifically designed to work in a toaster oven and are available in sets of two. They’re big enough to perfectly fit most microwaves and baking sheets and are also safe for other appliances, including ovens, microwaves, and freezers.
While bakeware definitely requires the most upfront investment, it’s a great long-term alternative to aluminium. Using dishes instead of aluminium helps protect your toaster oven and also makes serving easier – all you need to do is pull the dish out of the toaster and serve as is!
You can find toaster oven bakeware available in a wide variety of materials, including ceramic, stone, steel, and more.
If you’re looking for new bakeware for your toaster oven, I recommend the G & S Metal Products Company Toaster Oven Baking Pan Set from Amazon.com. It’s highly affordable and has all the dishes you’ll need when using a toaster oven. Additionally, it’s sized to be perfect for single servings, so you don’t need to worry about cooking too-large servings.
Common Aluminum Alternatives You Shouldn’t Use
It’s important to remember that there are some common aluminium alternatives that you shouldn’t use in a toaster oven. These include:
- Glass: There’s a risk of the glass overheating and breaking or shattering when left in a toaster oven. However, if you prefer glass bakeware, you’ll be able to find oven-safe options – only use these sets in your toaster oven.
- Parchment paper: Most parchment paper manufacturers warn against using parchment paper in toaster ovens.