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Silicone Cookware - The Things You Need To Know!

Updated on July 9, 2013

Introduction into the world of Silicone Cookware

What is it? How does it work? Why should I buy Silicone? Where should I buy it from? What am I looking for? These are the answers I hope you will take away with you today.

Kitchen cookware has enjoyed many transitions over the centuries thanks to new materials becoming affordable and more mainstream. Archeological discoveries suggest clay pottery was instrumental in cooking from the Stone Age onwards. By the 17th century it was common for a kitchen to contain cookware cast from iron or bronze. These materials made way for the lighter and more practical stainless steel and aluminium cookware. With the introduction of revolutionary Teflon and other non-stick coatings, we had never had it so easy in the kitchen. Now is the turn of another innovative cooking material.

Silicone cookware has had a dramatic surge in popularity in recent years and now populates many kitchens and cookware shops across the globe. Many manufacturers of bakeware or kitchen utensils now have a range of silicone based products to compliment their collections. The reason behind the rise in awareness and popularity of Silicone Kitchenware lies in its long list of advantages and minimal drawbacks which we will look at in a moment. However with so many manufacturers producing silicone cooking instruments to keep up with demand, it is important to wean out the quality from those who cut corners.

Silicone cookware draws on one of its advantages (and coincidentally one of its disadvantages) - its flexibility - for its success. You can also use this feature to determine whether the item is 100% silicone or if it contains "filler" as do many low quality silicone products. By twisting the silicone check the ridges for signs of white stretching which indicates that filling materials have been used. If the colour remains constant, you have in your hands some high quality silicone! This initial check is important for several reasons besides checking you are getting what you pay for:

Although 100% silicone is non-stick, these filling materials may not be. All the time and effort you put into baking the perfect cakes (and indeed the reason you selected silicone in the first place) may be in vain if the baked goods stick to the pan due to these fillers.100% silicone is heat resistant to over 300 degrees centigrade (well above normal cooking tempretures). It will not give off odours, discolour or compromise its integrity. However the same cannot be said for the filling material.Silicone, in its limited research, is not dangerous to the use or the environment in any way but who knows what other materials have gone into non 100% silicone produtcs? Particularly if subjected to heat, cooking ingredients, food acids etc...Be under no illusion that quality silicone will cost more than wooden or metal utensils but should be considered an investment that will stand the test of time whether only occasionally used in a domestic kitchen or extensively in professional kitchens.Did you know?Silicone is a very common element found in rocks and sand and makes up approximately 28% of the Earth's crust.

To sum up, despite some of its disadvantages, silicone cookware is becoming more widely available in specialist cookware shops and on the internet and thanks to brightly coloured, intuitive and imaginative designs, more and more modern kitchens around the world are embracing the colour revolution.

Silicone-Bakeware
Silicone-Bakeware

Advantages

Silicone is a non-stick material. The bane of all chefs' lives is the clean-up stage, scrubbing pots and pans, disposing of waste and sanitising work surfaces. Thankfully the cleanup-friendly properties of silicone ease this task. Perhaps the most obvious is the fact that silicone is non-stick. This means food will not get left baked on and crumbs easily brush off. Secondly, thanks to the flexible construction, any food caught in crevices can be removed by inverting the silicone. For those of us lucky (or lazy) enough to own dishwashers, silicone is perfectly safe and as an additional benefit, will not damage other cookware by clattering around thanks to its soft texture.Silicone can withstand varying temperatures. Perfect for storing food in the freezer and equally perfect for cooking in the oven, Silicone outshines other materials by absorbing the shock of varying temperatures without any physical damage. Where other materials may warp or deform when subjected to excessive temperature change, silicone does not. As the non-stick element is not simply a coating, it is impossible to flake of as with some cheaper metal cookware and bakeware items. This negates the need for using multiple products to prepare, store and cook - saving you money, cleanup time and storage space.Silicone cookware conducts heat very slowly meaning kitchen tops and surfaces are safe from burn marks...as is the user! Silicone is perfect for manufacturing oven gloves and grips for this reason. Utensils will always be cool to the touch no matter how long they have been sitting in that saucepan!Silicone does not degrade over time. It is impervious to rusting or staining from food colourants unlike wood making it perfect for cooking utensils. It shares the same sanitary benefits as stainless steel but with reduced heat conduction.Easy Storage - Thanks to its flexibility it can be folded or squeezed into tight or restricted spaces, it will scratch or damage other products within the same storage space due to its soft surfaces. Perhaps most importantly to the consumer is the versatility of these products, as highlighted in this section, mean that fewer products are needed in the first place cluttering up your kitchen whilst you are keeping your hands out of your pockets.Silicone utensils are perfect for use on non-stick surfaces as their soft features will not scratch and remove the coated surfaces that lead to the demise of the pan.Silicone kitchenware is now used in professional and home kitchens the world over. Their ever-increasing popularity influences manufacturers in the kitchen industry to develop more and more silicone based kitchenware with clever designs in a broad spectrum of colours. This means finding the right colour scheme or adding to your existing collection couldn't be easier.Other advantages include long life, lightweight and even recyclable! Yup, food grade silicone is recyclable at many outlets across the UK and indeed the world.

Blue-Silicone-Oven-Gloves
Blue-Silicone-Oven-Gloves

Disadvantages

Along with all the advantages listed above there is the inevitable increase in price. For example a basic wooden cooking spoon may set you back £1-2 whereas a silicone cooking spoon of the same dimensions, you could look to spend between £5-8. This inflated cost must be factored in when you are kitting out the kitchen but so does the longevity of the product. Buying silicone kitchenware is an investmentSilicone ovenware may become more flexible when heated. As any poly-based materials heat up, much of the initial sturdiness is lost. You can combat this by sitting the silicone on a baking tray but this takes away many of the great plus-points about silicone cookware.Knives and sharp utensils can cut and pierce the rubbery silicone. Great care must be taken when using sharp instruments around silicone.As touched on above, some manufacturers get away with supplying poor quality silicone products containing other materials. Great care must be taken when shopping for silicone.Silicone is non-biodegradable which could cause problems in the environment later on if not properly disposed of. Silicone recycling centers operate around the globe to help reduce harmful waste.

Stainless-Steel-Red-Silicone-Cookware-Range
Stainless-Steel-Red-Silicone-Cookware-Range

Question Spotlight: Will my Silicone Cakepan Melt in the Oven?

Short Answer: No (provided you stick to normal cooking temperatures)

There is something logic-defying about putting rubber into a hot oven and probably the reason most of us are skeptable about buying silicone bakeware. "Won't it melt/burn/give off toxic fumes??"

[add more] Do not subject to a naked flame

To help put your mind at ease did you know that Silicones are even used to make the heat resistant tiles on the bottom of space shuttles? If its good enough for stopping spacecraft burning up in our atmosphere, it is good enough for baking a couple muffins!

Flexible-Silicone-Cookware
Flexible-Silicone-Cookware

Question Spotlight: Should I Grease My SIlicone Cookware Before Use?

Short Answer: Yes (to be safe)

Silicone, a type of synthetic rubber, is specifically formulated as a nonstick product designed to smoothly release baked goods without lubrication from baking fats such as oil or oil sprays. Manufacturer instructions for popular silicone cookware brands such as KitchenAid and Wilton state that no oil is necessary on their products' nonstick surfaces. Of course, the non-stick properties of the silicone could be linked to the quality of manufacture and materials used in production.

While silicone cookware and bakeware is proven effective at releasing food without sticking, it is not foolproof each time. In the January 10, 2007 edition of the New York Times, SiliconeZone owner Michael Karyo said, "If any silicone manufacturer says you never have to grease a pan, no matter, they are not telling you the truth" Because baking fats will not adversely affect silicone in any way, it does no harm to spritz silicone cookware with an oil spray prior to use.

Although you don't have to use oil on a nonstick silicone cookware surface, expert cooks such as New York Times food and dining editor Marian Burros recommend pre-greasing silicone bakeware with butter, oil or oil spray to be doubly sure that baked goods and other dishes will release easily. This is particularly important when baking cakes with detailed designs or intricate patterns so that the thinner parts of the cake do not get left behind ruining the overall presentation.

Silicone-Cookware
Silicone-Cookware

Question Spotlight: Is Silicone Cookware Dangerous?

Short Answer: No (Though it is too early to tell for sure)

Silicone as a material has only been around for a few decades, much less as a material used in kitchens and thusly there are no research reports to suggest concretely whether Silicone is safe or toxic as a cooking material.

"Back in 1979 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that silicon dioxides—the basic elements in silicone cookware—were generally recognized as safe to use even in food-grade contexts. But the first silicone cookware (silicone spatulas) didn't start to show up on store shelves until a decade later, and the FDA hasn't conducted any follow-up studies to determine whether silicone can leach out of cookware and potentially contaminate food. For its part, Canada's health agency, Health Canada, maintains that food-grade silicone does not react with food or beverages or produce any hazardous fumes, and as such is safe to use up to recommended temperatures"

Source: Is SIlicone Cookware Safe?

In the short term, cooking with silicone seems safe and none of the the original percieved potential problems suggest to the contrary. Cooking within the suggested temperatures limits produces no toxic fumes or gases and the silicone does not degrade or break down. Silicone has not been found to react with any food ingredients or cooking additives. It is not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms and whilst it is not biodegradable, it can be recycled after a lifetime of use.

Quick Poll on SIlicone Cookware - What's your verdict?

I mostly use silicone cookware for...?

See results

Debate: Silicone vs. Traditional

Ok, so in spite of all the advantages listed above, some of you are still bound to be hesitant about embracing silicone cookware based on pre-conceptions, aesthetics etc. Others welcome silicone cookware and utensils with open arms. So...

Would you trade in your traditional wooden and metal utensils/cookware for silicone?

I like my spoons wooden and my cake trays rigid!

I like my spoons wooden and my cake trays rigid!

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    • anonymous 4 years ago

      NO!

      I CAN TASTE SOMETHING STRANGE ON SILICONE COOKING IMPLEMENTS; AND THAT CAN'T BE GOOD. BYE, BYE, SILICONE... JUST LIKE TEFLON, BYE, BYE.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      No. I won't use aluminum or teflon coated non-stick pans because of health hazards and look at how many decades it took for scientists to discover those things were harmful. So I'm definitely not going to use plastic to cook with. I don't even use plastic in the microwave. Remember how many decades that was assumed safe? I try to prepare my meals with the healthiest ingredients. I use organic when I can afford it, although I always use organic dairy and organic fruit and veggies for the "Dirty Dozen." Why should I risk endangering my health by using silicone utensils and cookware?

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      I totally agree with Monika. Look what happened to the old aluminium cookware. It's been taken off the market due to it poisoning the human body. and how many years did it take for them to find that out. No Silicone for me or my family, EVER.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      I would never change my natural wooden spatulas over silicon , unless they do the proper researches to PROOVE that it is a 100% healthy for cooking and not toxic. This may take about 20 years to proove, that there are some health risks, I have 4 kids, and I want us to be healthy For now SILICON is just a new THING on the market: something NEW, MODERN, COOL. It is not advertised as THE HEALTHIEST it is advertised as NON STICK, flexible,non scratch, heat resistant... but no word on HEALTHY. So good luck!

    • norma-holt 6 years ago

      No, I don't know about the health problems associatef weith any synthethic product. Can't be sure this is not also environmentally disastrous.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      i am sorry to say but I like the wooden spoons, my cake trays. It has not hurt me in anyway why change something that has be working well for so long.

    Yes please, I want a rainbow kitchen!

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      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Wooden spoons don't get clean. 1,000's of people every year get food poisoning due to food that is absorbed by wood used in spoons and other cooking implements the wood absorbs the substance you are cooking with. You use a wooden spoon to stir cake batter in that batter is raw egg then wash it with hot water not all of the batter is out of the spoon then you use that spoon to toss a salad with its dry and some of that raw egg is now in your salad. Now metal is non prose yet must also be washed very well. I have not had good luck using silicone baking sets had one melt but cleaning was easy it pealed right off when the melted rubbery mess cooled down. I used a cheap mold never really a good ideal in any kind of cook ware with metal you need to take care not to have the same thing happen wash it between using it with soap and water. For baking and other uses I like glass yet still use a molded cake pan now and then in small amounts I think both are fine. I will say I like the rainbow kitchen only due to the fact that I must click on one side or the other and I hate wood cook ware.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I have been wary of it for a long time, but after trying I have to say I like it. I always buy from the best manufacturers and test things for white streaks, so I am pretty sure I am buying something that is safe.

      • dessertlover 6 years ago

        For some reason I just don't like wooden spoons. Plus, I love color, so I'll have to go with this one!

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Yep, with the advantages of silicone kitchenware -this is the way to go.

      Article Spotlight: "Some Types Of Cookware Are Bad For You"

      The author of the article is a perfect example of the type of audience I am trying to reach with this lens. Largely skeptable about silicone cookware fueled by the lack of evidence suporting the safety of silicone one way or another.

      Excerpt

      "You take time and energy to find good quality organic food, fresh organic produce, dairy and meat. But how do you cook it?

      The pots and pans you use to cook your food in can also have a great effect on your health. The food is in direct contact with the pot in which you prepare it, and when heated, the pot can further exacerbate any potential chemical contamination. It is very important to use cookware that will not leach undesirable chemicals into your food..."

      "...Personally, I would also not cook with silicone bakeware or utensils. The same goes for plastic cooking utensils. I have not seen enough evidence to know that I can trust them"

      Read the full Article here: Some types of cookware are bad for you

      Had a good/bad experience with silicone cookware? - Let the community know about it!

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        • Tamara14 profile image

          Tamara Kajari 2 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

          Other than some spatulas, I don't use silicone kitchenware and the more I read about it the less I like it. Like with all things in life I guess - "fast and easy" comes with the price, usually a high one.

        • Mary Stephenson profile image

          Mary Stephenson 4 years ago from California

          Love the silicone cookware for baking brownies and lemon squares. The outer edges are not hard and tried out as in other pans....and it is easy to get out of the pan. I have also bought ice cube trays with cute shapes made of this material and make "gift melt n pour soaps". But they can't be used for any food afterwards, but they do make great soap molds. Thanks for answering a lot of questions about the product.

        • profile image

          mehetabel 4 years ago

          If silicon can be recycled - what is it recycled into - does it like most polymer products only go down the scale until it is more refuse that cannot be used again but which is still in the world as in organic detrius, can it stay at the level of usefulness it started at, or could it be some miracle, biodegrade completely? Because if it canât then it is a luxury the world cannot afford.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          I once used ice cubes that had been in a silicone ice cube tray for a long time (several months). The cubes most definitely had the smell/taste of silicone, which means SOMETHING leached into the water. As my HAZMAT instructor once said, "If you can smell it, you are being exposed to it."

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Good at first, but then it took a turn for the "Yuck! "Never again!"

          I loved the silicone cupcake pans I had in the beginning. They were easy to store in my small cabinet space, they baked my homemade goodies evenly, and for the most part, they were non-stick.

          However, after a few runs in my dishwasher with the heated dry element (they were labeled "dishwasher-safe"), my baked goods started to taste like it smelled: like dishwashing detergent. I tried 3 different brands (Wilton, Rubbermaid, I can't recall the third), and they all came out the same. I even contacted Wilton to ask what temp range was safe to prevent certain things, like dishwashibg soap, to leech into the silicone and affectin taste. However, they were vague and did not give me a straight answer (i.e. top rack only, no heat dry, etc.). I even tried washing by hand, and the soap taste became worse (I rinsed them thoroughly) I wasted dozens of batter ingredients and had an upset stomach because all I could taste was soap after baking.

          Traditional bakeware will have to do.

        • DarcyLogan profile image

          DarcyLogan 4 years ago

          Darn... I forgot silicone in my article about the top three vital pieces of kitchenware.. I don't think I could have done the subject as much justice as you did here so i will leave it out. Great article! I always use silicone for baking bread.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Heated oil in blue silicon baking tray (6 large Indiv patty cake size) when added Yorkshire pudding mixture oil was blue. Not new tray usedany times previous for cakes with no prob. Is this safe to eat I'm not game to try!!!

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          oven rack guards.

          they were left on the rack and the oven cleaning was turned on. at the end of cleaning time the oven was looking like a snowstorm. i forgot the rack guards were left inside, then i remembered, this was bad, very bad.

          ALL THAT I ASKED ABOUT THE CLEAN UP SAID I NEEDED A NEW STOVE. IT IS TOXIC, VERY TOXIC.

          is this true? how do i clean this up? i vaccuumed it out and there is still a lot in the oven. my vacuum filter is toast. i tried to rinse it out, it is not water soluble and the dust flies straight to the ceiling. i have stopped everything until i can get some solid information.

          other than your stupid would help.

          thank you.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Muffin mold: It MELTED in my oven. HOW can I clean the melted clumps in the bottom of my oven without ruining the surface of the oven?

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Good to know. This answered all of my question & question I didn't think of yet. I will be checking out silicone cookware in the near future.

          Thanks for the info.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Sell silicone bakeware,tableware,please see more www.hssilicone.com

        • profile image

          angela365 4 years ago

          @dessertlover: exactly

          i like silicone products very much

        • profile image

          angela365 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Dear sir and miss,

          Glad to hear that u are on the market for household products. we specialize in silicone kitchenare, silicone bakeware,and other silicone promotional gifts for many years with high quality and competitive price. contact me if you have any comments. FREE SAMPLE will be sent for our reference.

          please go for our website for samples.

          Best regards

          angela@sky-silicone.com

        • profile image

          angela365 4 years ago

          @anonymous: thank you very much,please tell me which item you want us to offer for free sample,please go for www.sky-silicone.com to choose from

        • profile image

          angela365 4 years ago

          @anonymous: all right,sir

          please go for our website(www.sky-silicone.com) and choose which item interest you most

          and tell me what specification you want us to put in delivering.

          Best regards

          angela@sky-silicone.com

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Hi read about your free sample offer. I am interested if you are offering cookable kitchenware that can also store directly into freezer. kindly advice place of collection in Singapore and also retail outlets for purchase if product is good for my use. Thank you and regards

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          @anonymous: I just read your message re silicone kitchenware. I would very much appreciate the free sample you offer. Betty House, 395 old goshen

          road, alvaton, ky. 42122-9711

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          @Vicky88: we are make ourselves professional in silicone kitchenware and silicone gifts.

          www.sky-silicone.com

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Dear sir and madam:

          Glad to hear that u are on the market for household products. we specialize in silicone kitchenare, silicone bakeware ,and other silicone promotional gifts for many years with high quality and competitive price. Should u have any questions, pls donât hesitate to contact me. FREE SAMPLE will be sent for our reference.

          Best regards

          Jack Li

          Shenzhen changlong rubber product Co.,Ltd

          Add: Shenzhen city Guangdong province China

          Tel: 0086-0755-27231561 0086-0755-27231562 or 0086-13828797434

          Fax: 0086-0755-27231690

          Email: changlong20111@hotmail.com

          Changlong20111@gmail.com

          Skype: jackli198591

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          Silicon is introduced in almost all fields in the world. but I think the use of silicon in Cookware world is very attractive.

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          @Vicky88: Dear sir and madam:

          Glad to hear that u are on the market for household products. we specialize in silicone kitchenare, silicone bakeware ,and other silicone promotional gifts for many years with high quality and competitive price. Should u have any questions, pls donât hesitate to contact me. FREE SAMPLE will be sent for our reference.

          Best regards

          Jack Li

          Shenzhen changlong rubber product Co.,Ltd

          Add: Shenzhen city Guangdong province China

          Tel: 0086-0755-27231561 0086-0755-27231562 or 0086-13828797434

          Fax: 0086-0755-27231690

          Email: changlong20111@hotmail.com

          Changlong20111@gmail.com

          Skype: jackli198591

        • profile image

          Vicky88 5 years ago

          Silicone are in a widely use, covering Kitchen Tools, Bakeware, Ice Cube Tray, Baby Feeding-Bottle, Nipple, Extrusion Tube, Medical Articles, etc.. I work in a SILIOCNE factory. We have hundreds kinds of silicone products, and still keep developing more.

        • profile image

          Vicky88 5 years ago

          Silicone are in a widely use, covering Kitchen Tools, Bakeware, Ice Cube Tray, Baby Feeding-Bottle, Nipple, Extrusion Tube, Medical Articles, etc.. I work in a SILIOCNE factory. We have hundreds kinds of silicone products, and still keep developing more.

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          The "Did You Know" section is just not true!

          Silicone is a synthetic polymer that contains silicon. Silicon is a natural chemical element, although it is rarely found as the pure element. It is commonly found as silica (silicon dioxide).

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          @anonymous: Silicon is used for semiconductors, not cookware. That's silicon*e*.

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

          How do I cut clean, sharp custom designs into a silicone mat ? Anyone got an idea on that? :)

        • profile image

          dessertlover 6 years ago

          I use silicone cake pans and they are wonderful! I won't go back to metal after using mine. Great lens!

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

          My daughter put her silicone muffin pan in the drawer below her oven and it burned to ash. Could it have been real silicone?

        • norma-holt profile image

          norma-holt 6 years ago

          Good lens and featured on Holiday Cooking.

        • eccles1 profile image

          eccles1 6 years ago

          cooking eating with silicone does not sound heathly