Focus on materials: Silicone


What is silicone? Is it plastic? Is it safe? Should we choose products made from it?

You may have noticed that this soft, flexible, plastic-like material is popping up everywhere from kids’ spoons and plates to baking sheets. It’s touted as our century’s wonder material!

The truth is a little complicated. In fact, I actually changed my viewpoint after I did the research for this post.

Please note that I am not a health professional, scientist, or expert. Always seek professional help for your health concerns or questions.

I used to think it was 100% safe, and now I’m skeptical. It does have some very real advantages over plastic, but it also has some drawbacks.

What is it?

It’s a material made from the natural element silicon, which is found in rocks/sand. Some people describe it as a “synthetic rubber” or a polymer made from sand.

Some classify it as a plastic, while others do not. (I’m referring to them separately to make it easier.)

The good:

✅ It is highly durable and can be reused for many, many years

✅ It’s widely thought to be non-toxic with no off-gassing or chemical leaching, even when heated or frozen

✅ It’s soft, smooth, and pliable

✅ It can be sterilized

The bad:

❌ As of right now, it cannot be readily recycled

❌ It doesn’t easily decompose in the environment

❌ It is made with a mix of additives, including those derived from fossil fuels

❌ Some sources question its safety (it’s possible that it might not be as inert as we thought)

How is it used?

It has a variety of uses, including for computer chips and in the medical field. It’s also an:

  • alternative to some BPA- or BPS-based baby and children’s things, and things that otherwise contain phthalates (bottle nipples, nursing gear, teething toys, etc)
  • alternative for food and drink storage
  • alternative to nonstick-coated baking gear

My verdict?

  • I prefer glass and stainless steel over silicone, but I typically prefer silicone over plastic.
  • It’s likely safer than plastic, but also possible that silicone isn’t as safe as we thought.
  • Choose food-grade or medical-grade, high-quality silicone.
  • We need to ensure it is disposed of properly.

Some further reading, if you’re interested:

What about you? What do you think about silicone? Do you use silicone products?


One thought on “Focus on materials: Silicone

  1. Moderation is always key! I think it’s great for ziploc bag replacement and the awesome awesome menstrual cup, but overconsuming anything is always a bad idea.

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