What Is Silicone Made of?
Silicone is one of the most frequently used synthetic materials today. This versatile material made its way into kitchen supplies in the early 2000s and today many cookware items and kitchen accessories are made of silicone. Silicone kitchenware is attractive due to its vibrant colors, non-stick surface, and chemical inertness.
There are a variety of bakeware items made of silicone but like any other material, silicone has both pros and cons.
Pros of Silicone Bakeware
- Non-stick property. The big selling point for silicone bakeware is that food doesn’t stick to it and everything you bake goes out smoothly. Cakes and muffins keep their shape intact. You don’t have to coat the pan with oil and clean-up is a breeze.
- A wide variety of colors. Silicone kitchenware is offered in a range of bold, bright colors. The fun colors attract anyone’s attention and can be intriguing to kids who appreciate their meals served in colorful dishes. A variety of colors also helps you to organize items for different types of food and prevent cross-contamination.
- Chemical inertness. Silicone is a chemically inert material that can be put in a microwave without fear of leaching chemicals into food. You can also use silicone bowls to melt butter or other warm ingredients. Silicone bakeware won’t lose its color or absorb stains or odors, no matter what type of food you bake in it.
- Ease of cleaning. Silicone bakeware can be cleaned in the dishwasher but is also extremely easy to clean by hand. Baked goods don’t stick to silicone, so no scrubbing is required. The flexible nature of silicone allows for the easy extraction of baked goods. It is not necessary to put the pan in the dishwasher after each use. You can wash it with a sponge soaked in soapy water. Over time, silicone bakeware may develop a greasy film from cooking sprays and food. This grease film commonly disappears after machine washing. If you still feel the traces of grease, soak the silicone bakeware in hot water with grease-cutting dish soap. Leave it for half an hour and then scrub it with a non-abrasive sponge. If some tough stains remain, apply baking soda paste and let it sit for 1 hour.
- Durability. Silicone cookware can be bent without losing its shape. It won’t be ruined if you drop it. It won’t shatter in the oven like glass or break in the freezer. Colors do not fade quickly, and it will look brand new after repeated uses and washes. Some scratches can appear from using sharp knives or other metal utensils. You can still use such bakeware, but you must clean it thoroughly after each use to prevent bacteria from growing in the cracks.
- You don’t burn your fingers. A second selling point is that you can touch a silicone pan soon after taking it out of the oven without burning yourself. This low thermal conductivity makes silicone ideal for making handle sleeves for pots and pans.
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- A chemical smell after the first few uses. Silicone bakeware can have a strong chemical smell when you unpack it. That smell may transfer to the food you bake. It usually disappears after use and thorough cleaning.
- Low thermal conductivity. Silicone bakeware transfers heat more slowly than metal, so the baking process may take a few minutes longer than usual. Once you are done, your cake is not brown and crisp up on the sides.
- Hard to handle when full. Since a silicone pan is not rigid like metal, it is difficult to maneuver the pan filled with food. You must be extra careful when transporting it to the oven. Use a cookie sheet or a metal tray underneath to avoid messy mishaps. Some baking pans come with steel rims to give them stability and make it much easier to transport them to the oven. The positive side of flexibility is that it allows quick release of baked goods from the pan.
- Not very eco-friendly. Silicone products are better for the environment than plastic because they reduce the use of single-use plastic products. However, we cannot consider silicon as an eco-friendly material. Silicone is not biodegradable and may take up to 500 years to break down. Silicon can be recycled, but recycling centers are rare. An additional problem is that recycling involves toxic chemicals that harm the environment.
Can Silicone Go in The Oven?
Generally, silicone bakeware is oven-safe up to 428℉ (220℃). Some pieces can withstand even higher temperatures. Always check the specifications from the manufacturer to find out the recommended oven temperature for a particular bakeware item.
Can Silicone Bakeware Go in The Microwave?
Silicone cookware can be used in the microwave oven. However, you should read the instructions before putting it in the microwave. Silicone can heat up when placed in the microwave, so you need gloves to protect your hands.
Can Silicon Go in The Freezer?
Silicone dishes are resistant to low temperatures and can safely be used for freezing food prepared in them. FDA-approved food-grade silicone can withstand temperatures from -80°F (-60 degrees Celsius).
Can You Put Silicone Bakeware in The Dishwasher?
Silicone dishes are easy to maintain and can be washed in the dishwasher without problems. Since the food does not stick, washing by hand is also easy. Warm soapy water is all you need to take care of cleaning after each use.
Is Silicone Safe for Baking Food?
The safety of silicone for use in contact with food is often debated. This especially applies to bakeware. When heated above 260 degrees, silicone is no longer stable and can release compounds called siloxanes, which are toxic to a certain extent. Some experts recommend not to use silicone at temperatures above 260 degrees.
The FDA has defined standards that must be met to use silicone with food. Food-grade silicone shouldn’t contain substances that are harmful to human health. Quality silicone must not emit odors or release color during use.
When buying silicone bakeware, always check whether the piece you are interested in is made of food-grade silicone. Cheaply made items may contain fillers that are not safe for baking food. The presence of fillers can make silicone less resistant to high temperatures and may affect the taste of the food.