Silicone cookware is relatively new cookware material which is made from silicone. Nowadays, silicone cookware is gaining popularity very fast as an alternative to teflon coated baking trays and other kitchen utensils. The major problem with Teflon coated cookware is Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), a toxic chemical which doesn't ever break down. Silicon cookware is hot technology for the kitchen and takes the best from plastic and rubber. Utensils which are made from silicone are flexible, non-stick and stand the heat up to 400-900°F depending on silicon type and quality. Silicon cookware is ideal for baking purposes and for home bakers; it has become a popular choice.
Heat is spread evenly on silicon cookware, while it's not suggested to put it on heating element or open fire. Silicone cookware has several advantages that other types of cookware do not have. Many kitchen supply stores sell a variety of silicone cookware, and you can also order it directly through manufacturers. To make muffin pans, cupcake liners, spatulas and a variety of other cooking utensils, food grade silicone is used.
Silicone cookware - how it is made?
Silicone is a type of synthetic rubber which made from bonded silicon and oxygen i.e. silicon dioxide. As silicon is a very common natural element, it found in sand and rock and it makes up 28% of the earth's crust. To set the silicone, heat is applied firstly at the point of manufacture and then it is followed by a lengthy post-cure process.
Advantages of silicone cookware:
- Over numerous other materials, the primary advantage of silicone is that it is both heat and frost resistant. You can literally be taken out silicone from the freezer and put into a fully heated oven without damage. You can use same molds for making both hot and cold foods, which means that cooks will save space by using silicone cookware. It works in any temperature range that you have in your home.
- Silicone is a naturally occurring mineral, unlike plastic and so it is safe. Silicone rubber does not react with food, liquids and most chemicals, or offgas hazardous fumes over its life and while in use.
- Silicone is non conductive metal. It would not hold heat and so no more burning your hand if you have to stir something for any length of time.
- Naturally non-stick:
- Due to its non-stick property, you can cook more healthfully as no longer requirement for greasing the bottom of the pan.
- Silicon cookwares are very easy to clean. Additionally, they don’t hold a smell like wood, or stain like plastic.
- Silicone cookware will last for ages if you handle it with proper care. Like plastic material, it is not going to fray at the edges.
Disadvantages of silicone cookware:
- Some lower quality silicone coatings contain filler that may be hazardous.
- It is generally more expensive than other types of cookware items.
- It's not readily biodegradable.
Safety and toxicity of silicon cookware:
The use of silicone in cookware is fairly new and so there has not been much research regarding its safety for use with food. In 1979, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that silicon dioxides, the basic elements in silicone cookware are generally safe to use even in food-grade contexts. The first silicone cookware (silicone spatulas) didn’t start to show up any toxicity. After that, the FDA hasn’t conducted any follow-up studies to determine whether silicone can seep out of cookware and potentially contaminate food. Canada’s health agency, Health Canada revealed that food-grade silicone does not react with food or beverages or generate any hazardous fumes. As such, it is safe to use up to recommended temperatures.
Silicone’s image may be forever contaminated by problems related with silicone gel breast implants, some women with earlier generations of these implants experienced capsular contracture, an abnormal immune system response to foreign materials. Some theories about silicone implants’ connect to breast cancer have since been debunked; the damage to silicone’s reputation lives on.
Consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd, who guides clear of Teflon due to health concerns, is bullish on silicone cookware after investigating potential toxicity. She sampled material safety data on several silicone rubbers manufactured by Dow Corning (which makes some 700 variations) and reported that “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. 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. 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.”
Probably, most of people have not a problem with silicone cookware. People who have chemical sensitivities might want to stay away until more definitive research has been conducted. For those who worried about harmful elements leaching into their cooked foods, cast iron and anodized aluminum cookware remain top choices.
Up to a certain temperature, usually 500 degrees F, silicone cookware is safe and above this temperature it can melt or otherwise be damaged. To determine its safe temperature range, you can check the manufacturer's instructions.
Some silicone cookware is prepared by using plastic as filler. The plastic compromises the cookware's safety by decreasing the temperature resistance and leaching into food. So, do not buy this type of cookware. Silicone cookware prepared with fillers forms white cracks when bent, which is used as identification purpose.
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