Debra Lynn Dadd

Is silicone cookware safe?

QUESTION:

I am looking for materials that works well as a non-stick baking and stir-frying surface and that will not harm my family. What do you think about silicone bakeware for environmental and health issues? I know Teflon is dangerous but what about silicone?

POSTED BY L. G. :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 01/11/2005


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

Silcone bakeware and other kitchen utensils are safe to use. Silicones are made chemically by creating a "backbone" of silicon from common sand and oxygen molecules, a combination that does not occur in nature. Then various other synthetic molecules are added branching off of the main silicon-oxygen line to create hundreds of different silicones that range from liquids to rubbery solids. Though this is a completely manmade product, it is completely inert and will not transfer to foods.

Health and Environmental Effects

I tried to find some information on the health effects of silicone rubber, but it was not listed in any of the toxic chemical databases I use.

I went to the Dow Corning website who makes over 700 different silicone rubbers and looked at a random sample of their MSDSs. The ones I read listed no hazardous materials or health effects, or needed first aid measures. All descriptions I read of silicone rubber describe it as chemically inert and stable, so it is unlikely to react with or leach into food, nor outgas vapors. MSDSs also note that silicone is not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms, it is not hazardous waste, and while it is not biodegradable, it can be recycled after a lifetime of use.

Some years back there was a question about the safety of silicone used in breast implants. Whether or not the health problems experienced by some women with breast implants were associated with the implants has been very controversial. I found an article from the year 2000 on a leading website on breast cancer and related women's issues that states "A large study conducted by researchers from the National Cancer Institute NCI finds no correlation between silicone-filled breast implants and breast cancer risk."

The prolonged inhalation of crystalline silica dust is associated with silicosis, but there is no silica dust exposure from the use of silicone kitchenware.

Use

I personally use silicone spatulas and baking mats and have experienced no ill effects. Nothing sticks to them and they are very easy to clean. My silicone baking mats which can be reused more than 2000 times have already saved yards and yards of parchment paper!

Silicone has many desireable benefits:

  • nonstick finish
  • does not retain odors or flavors
  • stain resistant
  • dishwasher safe
  • can go from temperature extremes of -58 degrees F up to 428 degrees F, from freezer to oven [note home ovens can go up to 500 degrees F, so keep the 428 degree F limit in mind]
  • promotes even heat distribution
  • quick cooling
  • some items can be folded for easy storage
Silicone kitchenware products are made from FDA approved food grade silicone.

Silicone is now being used to make a whole variety of useful non-stick cooking items. While there are no stovetop pots and pans, there are hundreds of useful kitchen items, including baking pans, baking sheets, spatulas, molds, icecube trays in fun shapes that also can double for baking little cakes, rolling pins, and more.

Debra :-)


COMMENTS:

Id really like to see the proofs your offering for this. Have there been any scientific testing done? Nothing personal but, I will continue to do my own research (still would love to see yours). Those rubbery muffin pans just dont look friendly to me. NOTHING manmade seems to be without side effects, by my experience anyway.

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: Please do continue to research and let us know what you find. What I have is what you see above. I wasn't able to find any scientific testing. I personally don't assume that nothing manmade is without side effects. All I can tell you is that I have been using silicone baking sheets with no ill effects. No odor comes off of them at all. I don't use the bakeware. It doesn't look friendly to me either.

POSTED BY MOM OF SIX :: OKLAHOMA USA :: 02/07/2007 1:29 PM


The safety of Silicone Rubber cookware has not in my mind been proven. I am an engineer that uses silicone rubber to make parts cast from silicone rubber compounds and the material's flexibility is in part do to the silicone oil present in the material's structure. The oily nature of the silicone rubber's surface testifies to the oils presence. It can be washed off only with very strong detergents, but continues to leach out to the surface over time with use. This is the same silicone oil that has been determined to be dangerous when used in silicone breast implants. I can't help but wonder and worry about the long term effects of trace amounts of silicone oil mixing with the foods one bakes or cooks in this bake ware.

POSTED BY ERICC :: CA USA :: 06/04/2007 3:54 PM


Hello,

I wanted to add something more. The silicone mat I have says NOT to put it in the dishwasher, and NOT fold it. I only mention this because Debra mentions that silicone can go in the dishwasher, and some may be able to be folded (?).

I did buy some silicone bakeware- a loaf pan, cake pans, and cupcake pans- and they CAN go in the dishwasher. They are made by Calphalon- which is a different brand than the silicone mat that I just used for the fish. I used the mat on the bottom of an aluminum cookie sheet.

POSTED BY CB :: MASSACHUSETTS USA :: 02/21/2008 3:58 AM


Hello Debra and all,

I just used a silicone baking mat (it looks like the same kind that you use, Debra, from the pictures you show of your own kitchen)- I got it at Bed, Bath & Beyond- it says "Pragotrade USA, Inc." on the wrapping it came out of. I used it last night for fish. I didn't wash it right away- I actually fell asleep, forgetting about it- and then cleaned it up this morning. The manufacturer's directions say that you can wash it off with dish detergent (I used Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap), so I did- just using my hands. Then I rinsed it off, and let it air-dry- just as the manufacturer says. The thing is, it still smells faintly of fish, and when I started washing it, I had an immediate smell that was very strong- it smelled kind of like ammonia. I am not sure if it was the dish detergent (which was actually Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, as I said) reacting with the silicone, but it was pretty strong. Although, I did wash it first before using it, of course, and there was no such smell at the time. My concern (aside from the smell I got when washing it after it had been used), is the fish smell. I have a very allergic child, and she cannot have even a trace amount of any food that she is allergic to. I am worried that the fish- which she is allergic to- is still there, somehow, if I can smell it (faintly). Is it normal for the silicone to hold scents? I know that you (Debra) state that it doesn't hold scents. This (the allergy concern) is why I couldn't use a cast iron or soapstone pot or pan for her, unless it was only to be used for her and her safe foods (she has about 20 confirmed food allergies, and likely more that haven't yet shown themselves; some are deadly- like her peanut allergy). Please let me know if this sounds normal, or if maybe silicone isn't going to be allergy-safe.

Thank you.

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: My silicone baking mat is SILPAT. Don't know anything about your brand. I usually wash the mat fairly soon after using it and have had no problems with lingering odors, but I have never used it to bake fish.


POSTED BY CB :: MASSACHUSETTS USA :: 02/21/2008 4:01 AM


I recently came across a silicone steamer with a nylon core. Does anyone have any information on nylon? How about the nylon cooking utensils?

Thanks!

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: Nylon is a plastic, but it is one of the least toxic. Virtually no outgassing. Toothbrush bristles are nylon, and nylon stockings are nylon.


POSTED BY -E- :: MASSACHUSSETS USA :: 06/05/2008 11:41 PM


can fda approved silicon for cooking be used in the microwave oven? i sometimes use it as a cover over my glass dishes to cook apples which then go into the vitamix for applesauce. As a cover it prevents all the juice from evaporating while cooking. By doing it this way, I don't have to add any other liquid.

POSTED BY IRD :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 06/16/2008 11:12 PM


The engineer says that silicone oil leaches out of the silicone baking products and is harmful in breast implants and that it leaches out. I have two responses to this from my research. First, the reason silicone breast implants are harmful is not because the silicone itself is harmful, but because when it is inside your tissues it is a foreign object and your immune system knows it doesn't belong there and tries to isolate it, like it does with a wood splinter or anything else. The moral there is not to put anything inside your body surgically that your immune system can recognize. Second, silicone is a very stable compound and unlikely to decompose or release any "oil". The oily feeling he is talking about is probably not oil but just the normal feel of a nonsticky surface. I seriously doubt that any oil comes off of it, and even if it did it would just pass harmlessly through your digestive tract, since it is not actually inside your tissues. In summary, I believe it is unlikely that there are any problems with silicone. If you are really paranoid though, you don't need to use it.

POSTED BY WARRIC :: ARIZONA USA :: 12/19/2008 3:22 PM


"Use

I personally use silicone spatulas and baking mats and have experienced no ill effects. Nothing sticks to them and they are very easy to clean. My silicone baking mats which can be reused more than 2000 times have already saved yards and yards of parchment paper!

Silicone has many desireable benefits:

* nonstick finish
►►* does not retain odors or flavors◄◄
* stain resistant
* dishwasher safe
* can go from temperature extremes of -58 degrees F up to 428 degrees F, from freezer to oven [note home ovens can go up to 500 degrees F, so keep the 428 degree F limit in mind]
* promotes even heat distribution
* quick cooling
* some items can be folded for easy storage"

The noted part about does not retain odors or flavors is absolutely false! Sorry, but they DO retain odors and if you google trying to get odors out of silicone you find numerous links where customers, including myself, have tried all sorts of measures to rid silicone of any cooking odor and nothing works! I currently have a silicone splatter screen that for the first time used to cover salmon cooking - it now reeks of fish so the only thing I can use it for is cooking fish! BIG disappointment considering the cost of this. I wont buy another silicone product because of this HUGE drawback.

POSTED BY WENDY :: NEW JERSEY USA :: 01/07/2009 4:21 PM


I would be very interested in learning about silicone use in baby bottle nipples, nipple shields, pacifiers, teethers, and other toys that young babies suck on. Is it better or worse then rubber?

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: I'm not sure offhand. I am not aware of either being a problem in terms of leaching.


POSTED BY ALEXA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 01/16/2009 2:44 PM


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