Not only are they a huge trend in the current culture, but they are also touted as a green way of baking. Unfortunately, this simple question has quite an unsatisfying answer: It really depends on what we mean by silicone.
Second only to oxygen in terms of abundance, silicon bonds with oxygen to create minerals called silicates (like jadeite, quartz, mica, olivine, and reunite). According to recent research, it was found in the human body and it can be beneficial to health.
It can exist in various states (solid, liquid or gel) and we often use it for manufacturing medical devices like joint replacements, pacemakers, and implants. Generally considered safe for medical uses, silicone has gained new popularity in bakeware.
However, this doesn’t mean much, given that the FDA approves plenty of things that you wouldn’t want to eat. The claim that this substance is “nonreactive” is based solely on the fact that silicon (the chemical element) is “inert.” And if we are honest with ourselves, we admit that just because something is fairly stable in nature doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily cook in or eat on it.
Lower quality silicone coatings contain a type of filler that may be hazardous. Here is a good test for your silicone cookware: If any white shows through when you twist it, it probably contains fillers.
You probably noticed an odor or slight smoking occasionally (especially when oil hits the surface). Just because we do not have enough scientific studies to prove the food safety of silicone does not mean it is safe to use.
If you want to be really sure, you can skip silicone altogether and stick with cast iron, glass, or stainless steel for cooking and baking. In addition, creating silicone cookware doesn’t take more energy than glass or mining metal for pots and pans.
Similarly, the silicone “spoonful” has more than proved its worth in stove top cooking. Therefore, you should only invest in silicone cookware if it helps you in making food easily.
For now, make sure you take good care of your silicone baking mats to keep on the safe side of things. William E. Embanks I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green.
My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it. This is a question on many consumer's minds, ranging from professional bakers to the occasional home cook.
Take a look at the information and make your own decisions about which forms of bakeware best suit your needs and whether you want to use siliconebakeware in your own kitchen. You will also find silicone ice cube trays, rolling pins and all sorts of baking pans.
Siliconebakeware is tolerant of both heat and cold, and can be used in the oven at temperatures up to 428 degrees Fahrenheit. It can go directly from the oven to the freezer, is microwave safe, and easy to clean.
While siliconebakeware is marketed as non-stick, greasing your bakeware is still a good idea to avoid any risk of sticking. It does not emit fumes of any sort, leach into food, or pose any health risks according to the FDA.
If you are concerned about the possibilities of long term use of siliconebakeware, consider confining your use to spatulas, trivets and other items that are not exposed to heat on a consistent basis. If you do use silicone pans, you should also keep in mind that they should be placed on a firm surface, like a cookie sheet, when baking.
Lifting a flexible pan from the oven can leave you with burns and a cake on the floor rather than your table. While there is no evidence that risks are posed by poor quality silicone cookware, offensive burning smells when baking is enough to make any baker want to avoid these items.
It’s incredibly versatile and can be found in a variety of applications such as medical devices, insulation, sealants and, of course, cooking and baking accessories. Silicone is dishwasher safe, so cleaning any stubborn stains from cooking or baking is a breeze.
So it doesn’t matter if you take siliconebakeware straight from the freezer to the oven, it won’t crack. One of the benefits of siliconebakeware ’s flexibility is that it can be bent and folded away, making it perfect if you’re short of storage space.
This makes it much more difficult for stains and odors to seep into your silicone bake and cookware, meaning that they’ll stay fresh and good-as-new much longer than many other items in your kitchen. Items made from silicone are tough cookies and will withstand an awful lot of abuse before they show signs of wear and tear.
Using utensils made from metal or plastic, you run the risk of scratching the surface of nonstick cookware. It doesn’t react with food, leach any chemicals or give off any toxic fumes.
There are anecdotal stories of high temperatures causing silicone kitchenware to emit odors and react with food. There is rightly widespread concern around Bis phenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the manufacture of some plastic containers.
BPA has been found to cause some nasty health problems including cancer, heart disease and hormonal imbalances. Whilst silicone kitchen tools should not contain BPA, it’s important that you check the manufacturer’s details before buying.
Aside from safety in the home, another concern you may have is whether your silicone baking products could potentially be harmful to our planet. The good news is that silicone is far less harmful to the planet than plastic products, which break down into dangerous microplastics.
Silicone on the other hand is non-toxic and non-hazardous when disposed of, making it a more environmentally friendly option than plastics. We’ve taken great care to make sure that we present all the potential dangers of siliconebakeware and cooking utensils.
As long as you use 100% silicone products and avoid very high (500 °F +) temperatures, you shouldn’t experience any problems. We’ve stressed the importance of avoiding anything other than pure silicone products and steering clear of potentially harmful fillers.
Luckily there is a quick and easy method: simply pinch and twist a flat part of the item. Whilst the test above will help you weed out any products that contain fillers, you should also ensure that the kitchenware you’re buying is FDA (or the equivalent in your country) approved and is certified as food-grade.
Make sure the product you’re buying can withstand the temperatures you intend to use it at, else you run the risk of melting your bakeware. With holiday baking coming up and gift season to boot, I’ve been thinking again about the safety of siliconebakeware.
Those that stated otherwise were usually single people in a forum or comments railing about silicone being toxic. The “nonreactive” claim is just based on the fact that silicon (the element) is “inert.” Again, let’s be serious: just because something in nature is fairly stable doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily cook and eat on it.
The oils in silicone, which are very powerful and toxic, may “migrate” from the material, but I can’t find any real data. I do notice an odor or smoking every so often, especially when oil hits the surface (like when roasting pumpkin seeds tossed in Too).
It’s reasonably new, so long-term studies haven’t been performed on cookware that has been exposed to high temperatures over very long periods. All over the Internet, people are basically saying, I can’t find anything dangerous about silicone, so I assume it’s a safe material.” That’s basically what I’ve said over the years, and now I’ve just contributed another article to the vastness of the Internet that says little to nothing about the safety of silicone.
If you want to be very conservative, skip the silicone and stick with glass, cast iron, or stainless steel for cooking and baking and unbleached parchment paper if you need something flexible. It doesn’t take more energy to create than glass or mining metal for pots and pans, and it is not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms.
So for the earth, siliconebakeware is a fine choice compared to just about anything else out there, and better than Teflon, which contains chemicals that won’t break down at all. I also swear by my silicone “spoonful” for scrambling eggs in the pan and other stove top cooking.
I found the muffin tin to be a beast to clean, much worse than its metal counterpart. The nonstick claim leaves a lot to be desired on the three-dimensional products, but the mats are still my friend…unless I decide they might be toxic.
Katie Kimball has been “green” since 5th grade when she read 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. She remains slightly disappointed that she didn’t actually save the whole thing back then, but now that she has 3 kiddos counting on her, she keeps plugging away hopefully.
Katie blogs at Kitchen Stewardship about real food and natural living and is the author of Healthy Snacks to Go and other e-books, available for Kindle.