What You Need to Know About Melamine Dinnerware

Melamine tableware

Are you looking for melamine dinnerware? No? In fact, there’s a good chance you’re scratching your head and saying, “What in tarnation is melamine dinnerware?”. Even if you’ve never heard of melamine dinnerware, you’ve definitely eaten off of it, and most likely even own some.

Melamine dinnerware are those dishes that look exactly like fine china or a high quality dinnerware set, until you drop them on the ground or do something with them that should shatter it, and you realize that instead it just lands on the ground as happy as a clam. That’s because melamine dinnerware sets are made of a polymer ingredient that makes it more similar to plastic than ceramic.

Many restaurants opt to use melamine dinnerware because it lowers the cost and risk of their dishware breaking and having to be replaced, while still offering the luxury dining experience of ceramic dishware. On top of that, melamine dinnerware weighs less than their ceramic counterparts, which makes it easier for serving staff to carry.

If you have never heard of melamine dinnerware but are now interested in getting yourself some, here’s everything you need to know:

What You Need to Know About Melamine Dinnerware

  1. Unlike plastic, melamine can be recycled.

    Melamine is made of polymer, like plastic dishes are, but is classified as a Class 7 Plastic Resin. Most plasticware is rated Class 1 through 6, meaning that it must go into a landfill after it has served it’s purpose. Like plastic, melamine can’t be melted and reused, however the nature of melamine allows for it to be ground into a power that is used as for plastic filler material and even wood composite.
  2. Unlike plastic, melamine can go in the dishwasher.
    The dishwasher is designed to bring the dishes it cleans to a scalding temperature to kill any bacteria that could be on the dishes. Most plasticware can’t withstand these temperatures, but melamine dishware can take scalding temperatures and keep on kicking. This is advantage in the restaurant setting, where dishes are cleaned in mass, and also at home. Because no one enjoys hand washing dishes.

    Caution: Although melamine can be heated to temperatures that exceed 160 degrees, the FDA doesn’t recommend heating them to those temperatures while they are in contact with food that you’re going to eat. Melamine has no leaching qualities at normal temperatures, but if it is heated to beyond 160 degrees while in contact with food, the polymer that makes the melamine can break down and leach into the food.

  3. Unlike ceramic dishes, melamine doesn’t mind being dropped.

    You might enjoy serving your dinner on a nice dish, however, the moment your “nice dish” slips out of your hands, you know you’re going to be sending it to it’s maker. Although ceramic dishes are lovely, they are fragile. That can be a nightmare when you have small children, or just have two left feet.

    On the other hand, melamine is the marriage of quality and durability. You can enjoy a nice meal on your melamine dishware without feeling like you’re dining on plastic plates. And then after you eat, when your child gets overzealous about “helping” you clean up and drops a few on the floor, you don’t have to worry that they’ll shatter.

  4. Unlike plastic and ceramic, melamine is appropriate for both cold and hot foods.

    Melamine is a insulator, rather than a conductor. That means that if you put an extremely hot substance in a melamine bowl, it won’t make the bowl itself extremely hot. This is handy around kitchen as well as in restaurant settings, as it reduces the likelihood of burn injuries.

    Meanwhile, it’s insulating quality means that it protects cold food from reaching warmer temperatures for longer. If you put ice cream in a melamine bowl, you will find that it will remain in frozen for far longer than if you put it in a plastic or ceramic bowl. The implications of this quality are far reaching. If you put a melamine dish in the freezer before placing a cold substance on it, it will retain the colder temperature and keep the cold substance chilled. The way that melamine reacts to hot and cold temperatures makes it extremely handy at home and in restaurant environments.

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