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Tonight I preheated my oven, forgetting that I had some dough proofing inside. The dough was sitting in a glassware bowl covered with glad cling wrap and the oven reached about 350F before I realized and took it out. The stretched wrap had a weird hole in the center almost like the plastic had vaporized. Around the sides of the bowl the plastic kind of baked on and got crusty.

Nothing seems to have dripped onto the rack or the inside of the oven and everything came off of the bowl after I washed it with cold water. The dough went in the trash, but is there anything I should do to the oven to make it safe to keep using? I’m worried about plastic particles stuck to the walls of my oven or something. Is the bowl safe to keep using?

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It's doubtful the plastic vaporized. It probably just made a hole because it melted and stretched. I'm sure your oven is safe. Any tiny amount of plastic that might have melted and landed on a surface (which is doubtful) would burn and you will smell the burnt plastic. Next time you use your oven just preheat it to 500 for 30 minutes and if there is no smell you're good to go. If you're really worried about it then turn on the self-clean. I would clean the melted plastic off the bowl with a brillo pad.

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    Yes, melted plastic tends to blob up on itself. I suspect that if you were to look closely at the edges of the hole in the plastic wrap, you'd find that the plastic was considerably thicker than elsewhere.
    – Mark
    Apr 22 '20 at 20:34
  • I'm relatively sure your practical advice (let run empty on maximum heat) is good but I'm also pretty sure some components of the plastic would have vaporized.
    – Nobody
    Apr 22 '20 at 21:19
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    @Nobody, Polymers don't vaporize. And it's doubtful they would have gotten hot enough to burn unless some landed on a coil.
    – Michael
    Apr 22 '20 at 21:51
  • @Michael Polymers do vaporize. What do you think smoke is?
    – nick012000
    Apr 23 '20 at 13:55
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    @nick012000 The results of incomplete combustion. Not vaporisation.
    – wizzwizz4
    Apr 23 '20 at 14:13
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To determine whether the oven is safe, you should look into the material your plastic wrap is made of, with the most common alternatives being:

  • PVC
  • LDPE
  • PVDC

For all of those, we're concerned with melting temperature and thermal degradation: it will have a drop risk only above the former, and a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound, which are the awfully smelling gases you feel when you burn plastic) chance once the latter kicks in.

That said, if the oven doesn't show any visible stain or coating after the incident it should only have had a very negligible exposure to any toxic compound: a thorough cleaning with a coarse sponge (but nothing hard enough to scratch your oven walls) should be more than enough to make the risk non-existant.

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    Not just VOCs; thermal decomposition of PVC and PVDC also produces hydrogen chloride, which is far deadlier than any of the common VOCs.
    – Vikki
    Apr 22 '20 at 19:50
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    @Sean Plus a host of unappetizing cancerogenic organic chloride compounds. The HCl goes away; Furanes and Dioxanes dissolve in fat we eat later. Apr 23 '20 at 9:11
  • @Sean What effect HCl has depends on where it is: your stomach naturally contains hydrochloric acid to aid digestion, while your nasal passsages will not appreciate it at all. Apr 23 '20 at 14:04

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