Plastics ruled the market for years before studies revealed that they are toxic. This created space for a safe alternatives and silicones filled it quite nicely. You can find this material in baby bottle nipples, toys, food containers, baking sheets and so on. Before we try to figure out how safe silicone really is for cooking, let us first look at what silicone is?
Silicone as a Material
Silicones or siloxanes are a hybrid between synthetic rubber and synthetic plastic polymers. They are used to make rubber-like items, hard plastic-like raisins, and thick fluids.
Silicones are synthetic and consist of several chemical additives. However, unlike carbon-based plastics and PFOA-based Teflon, silicones offer more durability.
Also, while there is enough evidence to link use of plastic and Teflon cookware with deadly diseases like cancer, for the time being — because of the lack of widespread testing– silicone is safer than plastic or Teflon.
According to Scientificamerican.com, “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”. That was 10 years before the silicone spatula — the first products with silicone for food launched. Since then “the FDA hasn’t conducted any follow-up studies to determine whether silicone can leach out of cookware and potentially contaminate food” [Reference: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talk-silicone-tally/]
By now, you may know all too well that one can’t become too comfortable with synthetic materials for cooking or storage of food. When you know that the primary source material is toxic you cannot take for granted its safety just because little to no testing is done of its dangers.
Silicone for Storage & Cooking
Although silicone seem better than other plastics on paper, they are not completely inert or unreactive. They can leach chemicals and the leaching increases at cooking temperature, especially in presence of oils. Studies have shown siloxanes leaching from silicone nipples in baby bottles and bakeware, and that siloxanes can impair fertility, and are potentially carcinogenic and endocrine disruptors.
These studies are evident of the fact that silicone may reactive in the presence of heat and fatty substances. Moreover, not all silicone utensils and wares are pure silicone, and some could very well contain additives that leach at lower temperatures.
Silicone and the Environment
When using a synthetic material on such a wide scale, its environmental impact must not be ignored. Silicones is a kind of plastic polymers and do not decompose and thus, extensive use of silicone a threat to the planet’s health.
The toxic dangers of these microplastics is shown in part in this study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068600/
Why Take the Risk?
Having been on the personal journey to complete health and healing health for many years, I feel this synthetic material is only “safe” for the time being. My simple principal of discernment: If we want our food to be truly all-natural, then keep the things that it comes in contact with also all-natural.
Like with all chemicals, toxins and synthetic materials, it is only a matter of time before people start realizing its dangers, and detrimental effects. So why take the risk, with something that is made with polymeric synthetic rubber and has not stood the test of time?
What is the Safest Alternative?
Miriams Earthen Cookware (MEC) is a US-based brand that offers pots and pans made from lab tested all natural clay without additives. Primary clay is the purest form of natural clay and MEC skillfully shapes it into healthy cooking pots, bakeware, and dinnerware.
Clay is the oldest known raw material for cooking. It’s history goes back to the beginning of human history! And contrary to what some may believe, in many civilizations human beings have lived long and healthy lives in the past. Especially as it relates to recent history, cultures that up until recently cooked in or still cook in all-natural clay boast of better health that cultures that have moved away and switched to metals, plastic and now silicone! So, as far as using a time honored material, there is nothing that has stood the test of time than this one.
In these times however, it is important that the raw material be pure and made without contaminants. And that’s exactly what Miriams Earthen Cookware does. We guarantee that our products are made without the use of any additives during any of the making process. This way you cooking vessels is 100% pure, all-natural and non-toxic!
Last but not the least, MEC’s clay is fully compostable, so when disposed at the end of their useful lifecycle, these green cookware sets go back to the same earth where they come from without causing any harm.
Some FAQs on Safety of Silicone:
Is silicone safer than plastic?
Silicone has higher heat and cold resistance so it is more durable than plastic, but they are still made with synthetic rubber and synthetic plastic polymers, and synthetic materials are not safe for food use, period.
Is silicone a carcinogen?
As documented on Washington post, this scientific research study shows silicone gel to cause lethal cancer in rats. If silicone in one form can cause cancer, it has the potential to do the same in any different form. With food related utensils and vessels, the danger is greater because food is a bio-chemical entity with is susceptible to its environment.