Parchment paper has always been a very integral cooking and baking item because it makes everything easier for one. Another is that it helps you keep the mess you tend to make while cooking on the low. A third is that it prevents substances that tend to be sticky, like cake batter and cookie dough, from sticking to your baking pans and trays.
Their amazing and multipurpose nature has made them quite popular in most households. If you cook and bake regularly, we are certain that you burn through your fair share of parchment paper yearly. If you resort to bulk shopping, then you must have at least a few boxes in your storage at home.
Now that we have all agreed that they are important and we use them regularly, then we can begin to ask questions like how do we dispose of them? Certainly, we cannot use them forever, even though some of them can be reused multiple times.
Well, if you are wondering how you can safely dispose of them, we have got you covered in this blog post. If you want to know if parchment paper is compostable and biodegradable, please read on.
Can you Compost Parchment Paper?
Parchment paper is simply paper lined with a layer of silicone. We all know that paper is made from trees, and silicone is made from processed sand. Both materials are biodegradable, which means that they will break down if microorganisms descend on them.
Now, you can compost only biodegradable items. Why’s that? Well, it’s because your compost pile is intended to be used to make fertilizer, and for this aim to be satisfied, everything in it has to be broken down. They have to decay before they can serve as fertilizers, and only biodegradable materials can decay.
Don’t get it mixed up. Non-biodegradable materials can also be broken down, but the difference is that those materials only break down into smaller pieces. They never really disintegrate entirely. It also takes several decades for this process to even get completed, and most times, it happens because of weather and time factors.
Now that you know that only biodegradable materials can be composted, there’s one more catch to composting parchment paper. Here goes.
Not all parchment paper can be compostable. For instance, there are two major types of parchment paper; bleached and unbleached ones. You guessed right; the bleached ones are the white ones, while the unbleached ones are the conventional brown ones.
The process of bleaching usually requires the addition of chemicals, as well as a rigorous manufacturing process. Bleached parchment paper isn’t the most advisable type of parchment paper to use. For sure, it won’t kill you on the spot, but you may be accumulating chemicals in your system.
The only difference between bleached and unbleached parchment paper is the color, they both serve the same purposes. Parchment paper gets bleached mainly for aesthetic purposes.
You can compost unbleached parchment paper because it has no chemicals in it, however, you cannot say the same for the bleached ones. Keep them away from your compost pit.
Here’s another awesome tip for you. Now that you know that unbleached parchment paper is compostable, what is stopping you from adding it to your compost pile? If you choose to do this, then we have a cheat tip for you.
Cut your parchment paper into small pieces, soak the pieces in warm and foamy water, take them out and then add them to your compost pile. That way, the pieces will decompose at an even faster rate than if they were still whole.
Is Parchment Paper Biodegradable?
Parchment paper certainly is biodegradable. It takes about 30 to 90 days for it to completely break down and get absorbed by the soil. Now, when you are considering whether or not a material is compostable, you have to think about the length of time it requires to completely break down. If it takes a short while, like parchment paper, then it is biodegradable.
However, not all parchment paper is biodegradable. For instance, bleached parchment paper isn’t. Bleached parchment paper is a type of parchment paper that has been treated and manufactured to remove the conventional brown color. It is bleached with chlorine, which certainly isn’t biodegradable.
Parchment papers that have bleach on them have automatically been altered, and will not decompose at the time they are supposed to. Bleach itself takes centuries to decompose, thereby affect parchment paper that has been bleached.
The other type of parchment paper, which is the unbleached version, is biodegradable. It is lined with silicone, which is also biodegradable.
Is Parchment Paper Bad For the Environment?
Since you use parchment paper quite often, you must be wondering if it is harmful to the environment. Well, to give a short answer to this question, we would say no. Parchment paper isn’t bad for the environment. However, there’s a catch, and we will get right into it shortly.
There are now two major types of parchment paper; one is bleached while the other isn’t. Unbleached parchment paper is typically safe for us and our environment. It is merely paper that has a slight layer of silicone on it, which gives it its non-stick attribute.
Bleached paper, on the other hand, is white parchment paper. Technically, parchment paper should be brown; however, the bleached ones are always white. The main purpose of bleaching parchment paper is to make it easier on the eyes, nothing more.
Now, the bleaching process is what isn’t good for the environment. For parchment paper to have its white color, bleach chloride is used to remove the brown color by bleaching it white. Of course, bleach chloride is a chemical, and chemicals are quite harmful to the environment.
If you dispose of your bleached parchment paper wrongly, it will not decompose. It will only take up space in our landfills, and also release toxic gases into the atmosphere.
Now, what you can do to protect your environment is to ensure that you dispose of your bleached parchment paper properly. Since we have established that we can always add unbleached parchment paper to our compost piles, we now have to worry about how we dispose of bleached parchment paper.
Parchment paper that isn’t bleached is safe for the environment, while the one that is, is harmful to the environment.
Is Parchment Paper and Butter Paper the Same?
If you are a baking or cooking enthusiast, then you must be quite familiar with parchment paper and butter paper. These two baking materials are quite similar; however, they have a couple of differences.
For one, butter paper, which is also known as wax paper, is lined with a layer of wax. The purpose of the wax is to prevent the cooking and baking ingredients you put on them from sticking. Don’t worry; the layer of wax on it is own is just enough to prevent ingredients from sticking to it. It surely isn’t enough to kill you.
Another thing you need to know about wax paper is that you have to keep it from a strong heat source because of the layer of wax on it. For instance, you certainly cannot use your wax paper to line a cookie tray and place it in the oven. The wax will melt away, and the paper will catch on fire.
However, you can use lay it between your table and bread dough, or any other food item that can leave a mess. You can also use it when you want to cool your freshly baked foods, wrap foods and place them in the fridge and any other function that does not involve a strong heat source.
Parchment paper, on the other hand, can handle high heat intensity. Of course, we aren’t saying you should place it above a fire, or in a fire. We are simply saying that you can use it to line your cookie trays, cake trays or even use it to heat your food in the microwave.
Since it is lined with a layer of silicone, which is strong enough to withstand heat, then it can be used near a strong heat source. Aside from heat tolerance and the sort of materials, they are lined with, parchment paper and butter paper are quite similar.
Is Parchment Paper Made From Animal Skin?
This is quite tricky. To answer the question, we would say it depends. Now, in this context, parchment is made from animal skin.
Parchment is a writing paper that has been in existence for a very long time. It is made from animal skin. However, the parchment paper that we use for cooking and baking activities isn’t.
Parchment paper for cooking and baking is made from cellulose fibers that come from fir trees. A layer of silicone, which is made from sand, is added to it and it is this layer that gives it its nonstick feature.
The two types of parchment certainly cannot be interchanged because of their peculiarities. Hence, answering the question of whether parchment paper is made from animal skin is a positive or negative answer, but it depends on the context.
Is Parchment Paper Edible?
If you have ever smelt parchment paper after it has housed a tray of baked cookies before, then you will understand why people wonder if parchment paper is edible. It smells divine, heavenly even. However, you absolutely cannot eat it.
Parchment paper is made from paper, and even though it is entirely safe for you to place your food items on it, you certainly cannot eat it. Of course, when you bake with it or reheat your food with it, it will not release any form of toxins into the food.
You are perfectly safe when you eat foods that have come in contact with parchment paper. However, eating the paper itself will be like eating writing paper. They are usually made from the same source, with slight differences. One of which is the layer of silicone that comes with a piece of parchment paper.
Now, the same cannot be said for bleached parchment paper. You should not even attempt to taste it. You can use it to cook and bake, but even using it for those activities isn’t advisable. Opt for unbleached parchment paper if you can.
It’s a fantastic idea to get curious about the things around you, particularly cooking facilitators like parchment paper. If you have a green thumb, you would also be interested in knowing the household items you can add to your compost pile and the ones that should stay far away from it.
Finding out if parchment paper is also biodegradable is a huge step to take if you are interested in protecting your environment. Now, you have answers to these questions.