Plastic Wrap 101
Plastic, Saran, and Cling Wrap Information
A Guide to Food Plastic Wrap
Plastic Wrap- Plastic wrap is a general term used to describe many different materials. Plastic wrap is most often referring to industrial plastic wrap for securing pallets or food-grade plastic wrap. Food plastic wrap, also known as cling film, food wrap, and saran wrap, is a thin plastic film commonly used for sealing and securing food items in containers to keep fresh. Food Plastic wrap is sold in individual rolls or more typically sold with a roll in a box that has a cutting edge on it.
Plastic wrap was discovered in 1933 when a lab worker (Ralph Wiley) at Dow chemical was having trouble washing out beakers used in developing a dry-cleaning product. The product was initially developed into a spray to be sprayed onto fighter planes to protect them from salty sea spray. The original plastic wrap that was invented was PVdC (Polyvinylidene Chloride). In 1949 Dow Chemical refined the spray and developed saran plastic wrap.
Plastic wrap is commonly made out of PVC (Polyvinylidene Chloride). In recent years other PVC alternatives have become more popular. The most popular option in recent years is LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) because it is considered to be safer for the body. The problem with LDPE plastic wrap is it does not provide the amount of cling that PVC plastic wrap does. In 2004 the "Saran" brand changed to using LDPE due to environmental concerns with the chloride associated with PVC plastic wrap.
How is Plastic Wrap Made?
- Plastic granules are heated until they melt.
- The liquid is then forced through a die to form a tube of stretchable plastic.
- Compressed air is blown into the tubes to form a bubble.
- The bubble stretches the plastic into the desired thicknesses.
- The bubble is collapsed between metal rollers to form a plastic film.
- The film is then rolled onto a large metal roll that may hold several kilometers of film.
- From the large roll, the plastic wrap is unwound, cut, and rerolled onto smaller rolls.
- The rolling and unrolling of the plastic wrap help to provide more cling.
- The rolls are then placed into cardboard containers with serrated edges or packed individually for the end-user.
Frequently Asked Plastic Wrap Questions
How thick is plastic wrap?
Most store-bought plastic cling wrap is 35 ga to 40 ga. See our gauge conversion chart to convert gauges into multiple forms of measurements.
Can I use plastic wrap in the microwave?
Yes, plastic wrap can be used in the microwave. It is recommended that users poke holes for steam ventilation. The plastic wrap should not come into contact with food high in fat. The fat can melt the plastic wrap if heated to a high enough temperature.
Can I use plastic wrap in the oven?
No, plastic wrap is not to be used in conventional ovens, stovetops, or toaster ovens. The plastic will melt if used in any of these cooking units.
Can plastic wrap be used to freeze food?
Yes, plastic wrap will protect food when in the freezer. It is recommended that no air is between the plastic wrap and the food. That will help protect the food from freezer burn. For long term storage, zip lock bags are recommended.
Is plastic wrap a good insulator?
No, plastic wrap does not have very many qualities that make it an excellent insulator. It may slightly assist in heat retention, but aluminum foil is a better insulator. Two layers of plastic wrap with air in between are the best way to use plastic wrap as an insulator if necessary.
What is the best way to protect against cuts from the cutterbox blade?
The perforated edge on plastic wrap boxes and aluminum foil boxes can cause cuts if not careful. We recommend our wrapmaster aluminum foil and plastic wrap dispenser. It features a hidden cutting blade to ensure safe usage every time.
Do you offer Perforated Plastic Wrap?
Yes. Perforated plastic wrap is ideal for a variety of applications ranging from use in restaurants all the way to use in salons. Our perforated plastic wrap comes in a variety of sizes to ensure the ability to fit multiple plastic wrap applications. Check out the link above to view our perforated plastic wrap.
Can industrial plastic wrap be used with consumable products?
Industrial plastic wrap such as pallet stretch film should not be used in direct contact with consumable products. Industrial stretch film is not FDA approved for direct food contact.
Can Plastic Wrap Be Heated?
Standard food plastic wrap should not be heated in the oven or with other forms of direct heat. The Saran Brands website states the brand name wrap can be microwaved, but not heated in the oven. Unless stated on the product safe for oven or microwave, food plastic wrap is not recommended to be heated. Untreated plastic wrap can release chemicals and melt when heated. Below is a video of food plastic wrap vs. shrink wrap. A 1200 watt heat gun is used to heat the plastic wrap to show what happens.